John Thackara | Essays

Collapse of Civilization Tango

They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich — and the same seems to be the case in our own times.

Choreographer Valerie Green and Dance Entropy, a New York City-based experimental dance troupe, will shortly premier a new work, “Rise and Fall,” that's about collapsing civilizations, the raw ugliness of industrialization and gross consumption.

The dance is inspired in part by John Michael Greer's book The Long Descent whose cover, it must be admitted (above), has definite dance-like qualities.

(Greer is by no means a dramatizer. On the contrary, he is scornful of those 'doomers' who say that a sudden civilizational collapse is imminent. Greer's argument is that said collapse is already well underway and is likely to become the new normal for for us all).

“Rise and Fall,” which sets out to develop “a non-traditional movement vocabulary,” charts a non-linear path through industrialization, modernization, terror, decline, population dissipation, and “the knowledge to begin again.”

If “Rise and Fall” sounds like a challenging work of dance, its music appears to be well-matched. It's by a group called the Tone Casualties. A former record label, their most celebrated album was Wake Up Gods by the Macedonian band Kismet.

Under the slogan “INSANITY IS FREEDOM COMFORMITY IS DEATH” Kismet's music is described as “industrial-ethno-gothic for following Millennium.”

If you are in the NYC area, and in search of a family night out, see Rise and Fall on 31 March at Dixon Place Experimental Theatre at 7:30 pm, or on 8 and 17 April at the Green Space Studio.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Media

Comments [2]

- "Greer is by no means a dramatizer..." Although, his appearance would dramatically fool many. I'm glad that some are taking an active interest in what he has to communicate. His Ecotechnic Future was an absolute bombshell. I agree with his general thesis about us gradually making changes in our individual lives, like retrofitting, revitalising local and home economies, etc. in 'preparation' for a future societal collapse

...; unfortunately, I'm rather cynical about whether or not governments and the public will snap out of their Rapa Nui-like delusion of progression.

On the other hand, performances like the featured one, can be a tantalisingly disarming way of projecting valuable ideas.

Thanks John!

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