I became interested in contemporary dance after being a participant in Tino Sehgal’s installation THESE ASSOCIATIONS at Tate Turbine Hall in 2012 and afterwards working on a Nearly Dance piece with dancer and choreographer Jia-Yu Corti. THESE ASSOCIATIONS was a brilliant piece of art consisted of around 50 people at any one time moving around that huge space, walking, running, playing games, configuring in different patterns, chanting – and breaking away from the pack to tell stories to people. Many of my fellow participants were dancers of different kinds, and after the show was over I began going to dance performances by people I’d got to know, like Janine Harrington whose ‘Screensaver’ project still fascinates me; and brilliant dance companies such as Nora and Edifice (whose ‘Salome’ was one of the last performances I saw before lockdown). I also worked on a Nearly event at Chisenhale Dance with the dancer and choreographer Jia-Yu Corti and began to realise that those trained in conventions of dance are also keen to explore everyday movement and constraints which lead to more original moves.
When the time came I signed up for an over Sixties dance class at City Lit led by Anne-Gaelle Thuriot and then Francis Angol, both wonderful teachers and dancers. Freed from the self-consciousness of being surrounded by lithe young dancers, I could concentrate on working with a lovely group of older students. My aim wasn’t to learn dance moves, rather to explore how my body moves and the idea of choreography. I discovered Small Dance, performances made of tiny movements of the hands or face, and Pedestrian Dance, developed out of walking about. After lockdown I discovered Simona Scotto who had set up a webinar-style morning warm up session which kept me sane and supple through pandemic strangeness. As a Nearly Dancer, I’m not pretending to be the real thing, but experimenting with what i can make from filming my own movements. In June George Sleightholme, an amazing musician with whom I improvised when we were both members of Academy Inegales, sent out 4 short clarinet pieces asking for responses of different kinds. I worked on these movies to go with them, made during lockdown and either side of my operation for bowel cancer.
Simona’s warm ups were crucial to me regaining strength after the op. Even when I was too weak to join in, it was good for the soul to watch, stretch what I could and feel part of an invisible community of elder movers moving for our own sakes, not on public view. I’ve since taken a short course on Zoom with novelist and dancer/choreographer Rebecca McKenzie who teaches an improv course based on Action Theatre techniques.
This piece of movement to music by Alistair McEachern led me to write a longer song, Everybody’s Doing Zoom.
Here’s an improvisation involving salt and percussion.
And here’s a real dancer, LISA MAGNAN, a fellow Smith from Schmiede in Hallein, who asked various people around the world – including me – some questions about their experience of lockdown then made dance to accompany. I’ve never been danced to before! Take a look at the other Confi(n) Dances on Lisa’s YouTube channel.