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.
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.
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.