Phrases by Katie Hagan and Stella Rousham.
Launched in July 2021, Independent Dance’s annual Worldwide Pageant of Studying is designed to place the accent on expanded approaches to studying, collaboration, efficiency and worldwide alternate, with 30+ artists bringing a fortnight of labs, talks and performances.
We attended A Gathering on 10 December, an all-day occasion marking the pageant’s midway level and one bringing collectively over 20 artists with work spanning ritual, collectivity, belonging, help and pleasure.
A Gathering was delicately and punctiliously curated. Like tributaries of a river, A Gathering was a complementary assemblage of dialogue, efficiency and lively participation that converged in a strong but fluid wave that flowed by Siobhan Davies Studios.
A Gathering began gently and warmly, with the crisp December solar lighting the beechy roof studio that crests Siobhan Davies Studios. Laughing yoga with dance artist and laughter chief Flora Wellesley Wesley eased us into this dance day marathon, assuaging any early winter chills from our our bodies.
After laughing yoga and a short pause away from the studio to redress the house, we had been welcomed again in and invited to sit down in a circle. Totally different scents and smells imbued the room with a way of calm but in addition anticipation for what was to return.
The primary ‘speaking’ session of the day was a dialog with Brian Lobel, artist and scholar whose work offers together with his private expertise of getting most cancers, Denise Rowe, director of Earth Dances and Rebecca Swift, Inventive Director of Entelechy Arts, chaired by Nic Conibere referred to as Who belongs, the place and the way.
After introducing themselves, Nic invited Brian, Denise and Rebecca to mirror on what they imagine belonging to be. The dialog fairly organically and rapidly turned to unbelonging and the methods by which we ‘collect’ in knowledgeable context. The three audio system and Nic – additionally bringing us ‘spectators’ into the dialog – mentioned necessary contact factors together with the character of ‘gathering’ once we work and the way we are able to keep away from gathering in a manner that’s exclusionary to individuals who have totally different life experiences.
We then had the pleasure to take part in a motion session led by dance artist Denise Rowe. Bathed within the golden heat of the sunlit Roof Studio, we, together with the opposite 20 odd members, had been guided by a grounding, restorative and calming improvisation, accompanied by the soothing tingles of the mbira. Rooted in themes of ancestry and orbiting a central bowl of water that lightly ricocheted with the vibrations of motion and music within the room, Rowe used focussed contact primarily based companion work and flooring patterns – putting arms on the again of one other, stepping forwards, away from the arms – that evoked sturdy sentiments of what it meant to really feel and embody (be)longing.
Across the constructing at sure intervals was a durational efficiency that includes Adam Moore, Abby Nocon, Erin Robinsong, Sophie Seita and Florence Uniacke who shared winter readings and rituals.
The durational efficiency was each elegiac and boldly experimental. As viewers members had been free to wander between studios, performances and talks, they had been gently washed over by these durational performers, who, like the present of a river, meandered into each enclave of the Siobhan Davies Studios. Costumed in darkish electrical blue overalls, the water-like performers delicately toyed with viewers consolation and expectations, discovered at unpredictable intervals draped over banisters, arranging miniature installations of dried flowers and incense on the touchdown or tumbling within the courtyard (which, curiously, attracted the quizzical eye of pedestrians). We significantly loved passing the performers by on the steps; reworking what may very well be a reasonably repetitive journey between studios right into a form of improvised dance itself.
A watch celebration of streamed stay performances adopted, with work from Carolina van Eps, pavleheidler, Michael Kaddu, Elvan Tekkin, George Maund screened on a projector in a darkish room. The streaming was kaleidoscopic and trippy in its aesthetic, typically deliberately and at different intervals unintentionally so resulting from connectivity points. Nonetheless nevertheless, the distorted shapes and glitchy sounds added to this type of weirdly dystopian digital artwork present by which questions of id, belonging and not-belonging had been raised.
The anticipated and doubtlessly reasonably meaty longtable dialogue led by a few of Impartial Dance’s artist-ambassadors Mira Hirtz, Alisa Oleva, Teresa Skamletz and Rosalie Wahlfrid got here simply earlier than dinner. All members had been free to sit down on the desk once they had the urge to contribute – both verbally or textually, including their ideas to a mind-map operating the size of the desk.
Referring to vitally prescient points with the up to date dance/artwork sector – care, accountability, structural inequalities – the fluid format of the dialogue did have its drawbacks. Some individuals did share private reflections and experiences of working within the dance business. Sharing was one thing we had been all inspired to do. But, it wasn’t fairly clear the place these necessary conversations may then be taken as soon as the longtable ended. While laudable for its radical intentions to generate a participatory and horizontal dialogue of delicate business points, the ‘open’ format nonetheless appeared to empower those that already felt assured and protected within the house to talk, leaving a major variety of members who nonetheless didn’t really feel comfy to sit down on the desk.
After an ambrosial dinner got here a comic book, whimsical, dancing-in-your-bedroom fashion solo efficiency by Flora Wellesley Wesley. On this piece Flora used laughter as a technique to supply respite and aid. Meme-like in its tone, Flora bedecked her dance with humorous, nonsensical however surprisingly sensical statements akin to ‘Extra of a chokehold, a somatic choker’ as a technique to carry us collectively, to create a way of sharedness and commonality on the finish of the day.
A Gathering completed in true fashion with a participatory efficiency by A Band That Dances (fka The Yonis). By means of a sequence of their best “hits”, this up to date motion band didn’t shrink back from utilizing spoken phrase, pulsing rhythms, wit, and viewers engagement, to rework the Roof Studio right into a pageant of pleasure and collective expertise. By means of a skillful steadiness of iconic unison dance numbers, sharp comedic timing and nuanced social commentary, A Band That Dances fastidiously captured the continuous tensions and contradictions of womanhood. The grande finale – a Ceilidh-remix weaving collectively viewers and performers alike – was a real hit and absolutely the embodiment of belonging.
Header picture: Who belongs, the place and the way discuss that includes Brian Lobel, Denise Rowe, Rebecca Swift and chaired by Nic Conibere, at ID Worldwide Pageant of Studying (2022), picture Cheniece Warner.