Revolutionary dancer

Issue section: 

In response to Andy Aitken (Feedback, Socialist Review, September 2008) dismissing dance as a middle class elitist profession which should be left alone by socialists, I feel the need to put him straight on a few facts.

As a dance practitioner for over 20 years and a member of the SWP for 13 years this is not the first time I have been at the receiving end of these kinds of comments. I would argue that dance is an integral part of our lives - babies dance to music before they can speak, and dance is the most accessible art form from toddlers' playgroups to pensioner get-togethers.

Dance is being taught in schools and colleges because of its creative, not competitive, nature and its ability to work with diverse groups. Indeed, Lenin himself was a great admirer of Isadora Duncan (the founder of modern dance) and invited her to Russia to assist in the work of the cultural revolution.

I myself have taught in a wide range of institutions, from homeless shelters to secure hospital units and children's hospices, as well as some of the most deprived schools in the country. I am not in the minority - dance in the community is happening everywhere by practitioners who believe that everyone has the right to access dance.

I accept that middle class people dance, but so do the rest of us. It is patronising to think that the majority cannot appreciate and participate in dance.

To quote a 10 year old schoolboy from Liverpool after a ballet workshop I had just taught, "I never knew ballet could be so wicked!" So come on, Andy, give it a try.

Kirstie Richardson