Stories…

It’s a Friday afternoon and the room is quiet but full.

Bodies move with ease slowly through the space.

Eyes looking ahead, remembering.

It’s Friday afternoon in Preston, but we could be anywhere.

Bodies push forward, onwards, endlessly.

They pass others as if they’re there / not there.

Whispers of words dance around the space as the mass moves on.

Eyes open.

Whispers of books & places & performances & objects & memories.

The bodies slowly shake their hips, hands raise, smiles form on the lips, toes tap, shoulders relax, and eyes gently close.

A swarm of silent bodies lost in dance in a room in Preston.

The distant sound of California seeps into the veins as The Beach Boys beats start to kick in.

We are lost.  We are dancing in California.  We do not want to come home.

We are lost.  Lost in a memory.  Lost in a dance.

A dance of love.  A dance of hope.  A dance to the future.  A dance to the past.

We do not want to come home.

We do not want to come home.

*Dance with eyes closed*

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New spaces, new audiences, new music, new moves!

On Friday night, I tested out some new material from The Dance Collector at The Birley Studio‘s 1st Birthday.  I was kicking off my residency there with an open performance accompanied by Kath, a live accordion player!  The performance was re-positioned in the white gallery performance space, with a light up dance floor and text adorning the walls. During the hour before the performance, I collected people’s dance-moves: their signature shapes and go-to twists, which I remembered during the performance.  Having the audience recognise their moves – albeit badly boogied by me – was a great experience.

The piece also included old and new stories about people’s memories & experiences of dance.  These ranged from embarrassing and humorous, to ones rooted in cultural traditions, to a nostalgic reminiscing of dances gone by.

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I attempted to teach the audience to dance.  I described how I looked and felt when I danced.  I dedicated dance moves to you.  Kath’s accordion roared along – her quickening beats encouraging me to move more, her rhythms & melodies responding as I slowed down.  One guiding the other, who was leading not always being clear.

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This Friday night gallery crowd watched the performance from beginning to end, much like in a theatre.  On Saturday, however, as part of Lancashire Encounter, The Dance Collector performed again to a different audience.  I still collected stories & dance moves but engaged with a wider range of people in Preston – shoppers, workers & other creatives involved in the festival.  Some Salsa dancers came over from their own demonstration to teach me some moves.  Children performed their twirls & gallops.  This performance was more open, where audiences came and went, rather than staying for the full hour duration – many encountering The Birley & Performance Art for the first time.  Kath played on, competing with the bustle of the festival outside.  Inside, a smile on my face rose as I imagined the dance moves of the people present.

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Preparing for Lancashire Encounter

This weekend, Lancashire Encounter is coming to Preston, bringing with it a range of performance, music, dance, theatre & art.  The event coincides with The Birley‘s 1st birthday and we thought this would be a great opportunity to launch The Dance Collector!

During the weekend, The Dance Collector will be out on the market as well as enticing people into The Birley gallery, to share dance moves & stories about dance.  There will also be a free open performance 6-7pm on Friday & 4-5pm on Saturday, incorporating the moves picked up.

This is the beginning of working in a new, exciting space.  I have to consider what to leave in the gallery when I’m not in it performing.  I’m trying to think up creative ways the public can leave their dance dedications for me.  And I’m think to think up creative ways to document my work in the space so that people can find out more about my project.  What does The Dance Collector leave behind?  How can you show a collection of dance moves?

Working in this durational way is a new concept for me, being used to presenting a piece of performance with a clear beginning and end.  Finding ways for the public to engage in my work over a longer time scale is the direction this project is moving towards.