I’ve taken a somewhat irreverent look at dance throughout my weeks writing this blog. But I hope that doesn’t mean the more serious aspects of the experience of dance and the teaching of dance haven’t had a chance to shine through every now and then.
Yesterday I saw a masterclass in this type of communication, as Gillian Lynne took to the stage to give the keynote talk at the RAD’s Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing. This is the Gillian Lynne who is about to receive a lifelong achievement award at the Oliviers, the Gillian Lynne who choreographed Cats and many other West End and Broadway shows, the Gillian Lynne who worked once upon a time with Errol Flynn.
As she took to the stage, the first revelation was that Gillian is 87 years old. 87! Honestly, the woman looks at least twenty years younger. It is quite extraordinary, and if that’s not a good enough reason to dance then you’re not wired the way I am.
She began to speak and what followed was a torrent of energy and wit and joy and insight that had everyone in the room beaming and uplifted by the end of the speech.
But despite the storytelling, there were serious points and they were powerfully made. “Dance,” said Gillian, gesturing towards her body, “gives us the knowledge we need to keep this machine going.”
She also had interesting things to say on the nature of dance teaching, arguing that it’s not enough to get the technique right, the teacher must inject a certain magic into the air…the earth needs to move for dance teaching to really hit the mark.
Gillian will receive her Olivier accolade tomorrow night in Covent Garden – tune into BBC Radio 2 for live coverage, or ITV for a highlights programme after the event.
I’m part of the team tweeting throughout the three-day conference – go ahead and follow us at @RADheadquarters, or search using the hashtag #DanceforWellbeing.