Choreographer Matthias Sperling, curator and host of the Nottdance Debates series, offers a summary of the content from the event, that took place on 11 March 2018. Time signatures indicate their approximate location in the footage for navigation.
Introductions of the speakers begin and Matthias introduces the provocation:
What forms of collective self-organisation does the artistic community need right now? How do we take the first steps toward putting that into practice? What urgent questions are we not talking about?
10:00 – 18:41 Dance artist Katye Coe reads her text, speaking from the voice of she, the dancer: “not the dancer as maker, or the dancer as teacher, or even the dancer as an artist, but the dancer herself. Not tool, not muse, not conduit, but she.” She speaks of the importance and power of speaking from that voice of “wildness and potential”, and how its transformative quality can resist and be an alternative to dominant systems.
18:45 – 28:00 Performance maker, performer, teacher and researcher Charlie Morrissey speaks of the importance of artists self-organising and self-articulating, and how influential previous examples of this have been, while reflecting on the relationship of artistic practices to current funding infrastructures and current political urgencies.
28:02 – 35:00 Artist and director of BACKLIT gallery Matthew Chesney draws out reflections from Franko B’s performance and talk in Nottdance, and the history of crossovers between dance and live art, while sharing approaches to practicing social activism as an artistic community.
35:30 – 41:00 Dance artist and actor Flora Wellesley Wesely gathers the concepts and priorities that come up for her in thinking about what is needed next in and for the artistic community, and brings her perspective as Vice-Chair of the Equity Dance Committee to the debate, including by sharing the Committee’s mission statement.
41:16 – 49:00 Co-director of Independent Dance Gitta Wigro reflects on the trade-offs that exist between being an organisation or an individual artist, in terms of the different kinds of strengths and capacities that these can have. She also proposes a questioning of the ‘PhD-ification’ of dance, and how and whom the increasing tendency toward PhD study may or may not serve in the longer term.
49:33 – End In the discussion that follows, many points and questions are articulated by different voices in the room, including the following, selected and re-interpreted by Matthias as:
- How might a trade union structure like the Equity Dance Committee offer opportunities for independent dance artists to organise effectively, and is there potential crossover with other unions such as the Artists Union?
- What learning can be applied from past initiatives of artists’ self-organising?
- How might people working in and across live art and dance contexts develop alliances further?
- What if the most generative and liberating approaches to take at the moment are those of porosity, fluidity, impermanence?
- How can dance, as a sector, keep becoming more consciously and directly engaged with the wider social and political context of being an artist in the world?
- How can we remain mindful that the specific capacities that dance practices make available have profound social effects?
- How can we get further by all working together as allies – including artists and presenters?
- What if we recognise that what we do is not clear? (As Katye Coe elaborated: “I embody and understand that I can live differently because of what I know and understand in my dancing, and that has huge transformative potential as, of and in itself.”)
- How about nurturing the otherness, rather than attempting to normalise it?
- How can an artist counteract the experience that, if they are not good with words, it seems to decrease the value of their practice in others’ eyes? How we articulate our practices is important to talk about.
- What if we speak from our work, not about it?
- Can we be mindful to ask artists what they need as artists and what they need as people?
- Why is the panel of this event all white?
- How about having a mission statement as an independent artist, about your practice?
- Can acknowledging how recently today’s organisations were founded and cultivated by artists’ self-organised initiatives inform how we come together and co-create?