8 Jan 2010


Javier De Frutos © Gavin Evans
 At the peak of the suicide season the dance world martyred it's integrity. In October '09 The Sadler's Wells commissioned 4 acclaimed choreographers to give 'their own original response to the famous challenge that Diaghilev once issued to Jean Cocteau: “Surprise me!”' Javier De Frutos (above) rose magnificently to the challenge and boy did he deliver. True to 'The Spirit of Diaghilev', Javier's homage to Cocteau; 'Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez' divided the dance world. Critics and audiences were vocal in their unbridled praise and indignant outrage. The moral right obsessed on a scene where a fictional Pope (Roberto 1st) rapes a choir boy- a scene derived from Cocteau's musings. Javier's choreography is renowned for his provocative sensuality, dark humour and visceral beauty- every movement has reference and purpose. With a raft of predatory Bishops resigning from the church the timing seemed perfectly tuned! Javier was given no option other than resign his post of 'associate artist' at Sadler's. Had the dance theatre submitted to the patrons' demands and sided with the ballet hooligans?
 The extraordinary rendition of his reputation continued when his, now scandalized ballet was cut from the BBC schedule. The arbiters of public taste and morality had decreed the piece too shocking to broadcast pre-watershed and the dance theatre offered no defense. We were spared the spectacle when, on the 18th of December, the BBC broadcast the show in its censored entirety.
 On the 23rd December Javier was summoned to a meeting at the BBC. It was presumed that the Corporation would be equitable and discuss broadcasting 'Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez'. Instead, Javier was informed that the BBC would have never have purchased the piece had they known that the set consisted of illustrations of erect penises. Javier respectfully pointed out that these weren't the imaginings of a depraved choreographer; they were reproductions of drawings by Da Vinci and Jean Cocteau!
 Every artist expects the full support of his commissioners, management and contemporaries. Instead of insisting that the show was broadcast in it's entirety, the dance theatre sanctioned the BBC's decision to censor Javier. The press never sought an explanation from Javier or gave him the opportunity to put forward his defense. The perpetrators and supporters of this action should be outed for their collusion in the slandering of Javier's reputation. As for those choreographers who silently watched on as their colleague was publicly berated- they too should be noted for their complicity.
 The public vilification of Javier is a warning to all artists. To stop the pernicious erosion of our rights we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder and be counted. Demand to view the infamous performance- it would be reprehensible if Sadler's were to profit from releasing it on DVD. What about the Freedom of Information act- Javier owns the copyright?

footnote- The BBC broadcast the opinions of BNP leader Nick Griffin without our consent or approval- that's shocking.