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Probe in rehearsal for Running On Empty. Image © Zoe Manders


Pact with Pointlessness - Written by Katie Dale-Everett

Friday, 24 April 2015 08:49

‘Pact with Pointlessness’ by Wendy Houstoun
Brighton Dome Studio Theatre
Tuesday 14th April 2015, 8pm.

What do you expect when you are told that you are going to see a work called ‘Pact with Pointlessness’? A random assortment of comical nonsense? Clowning on stage? A work which will be enjoyable in the moment but forgotten later? Insert movement artist Wendy Houston into the mix and you receive an intelligently thought through and powerful work throughout which you will be laughing out loud in one moment and then reflecting upon your own life in the next. 


Starting with the drawn out choreographed movement of over the top coloured lights, projection of the words ‘Pact with Pointlessness’ and funfair music, the audience is immediately hit with a sense of futility. Entering the stage wearing black tracksuits and a t-shirt, Houstoun continues this theme by running around a microphone stand multiple times and it is refreshing to see an older, female dancer holding the stage alone. Taking her audience on a journey of reflection, we witness not only dance but poetry, film projection, quotes and comedy, each episodic section able to stand alone within its own right, but together creating a constant sense of moving forward, something which Houstoun suggests is the only thing we can do in this pointless world which is taking us further and further towards our death.

Within the final scene, Houstoun’s recognition of the pointlessness of a life in which we are constantly trying to ‘keep everything up in the air’ hits strongly home as she reduces humanity to different parts of the human body. It could be argued that she even reduces her own art form, a form in which she says offers her the chance to be in a constant state of rediscovery through repetition is pointless as it is a construction that will only ever be ephemeral.


Although I had heard of Houstoun many times before, I had never been fortunate enough to attend her work. As an artist I found her performance committed and invested; the audience knowing that of course she is performing a repetition of something which she has done many times before, yet her performance still maintains the ‘innocence of the first act’ (Trisha Brown).

Contrary to the theme of pointlessness running throughout the evenings work, ‘Pact with Pointlessness’ is an important piece of work made to celebrate Houstoun’s long standing as an important figure within contemporary performance. Taking up the position of South East Dance’s ‘Established Artist Fellow’, for this year, the work forms part of the celebration of Houstoun’s thirty five years as an established movement/theatre maker within contemporary theatre.

To conclude, for me this work is a must see not only for those interested in dance, but a work to be seen by comedy lovers, theatre makers and poetry artists. So in answer to the question is this work pointless? I would argue not at all, in fact I think it stands as a highly regarded work, which I will continue to think about for a long while yet.

Written by Katie Dale-Everett

Images © Hugo Glendinning


Audience Ambassador blogs after seeing Michael Clark Company at Brighton Dome.

Friday, 24 April 2015 08:44

By Sally Deakin:
Animal /Vegetable/Mineral- was a slowly burning tightly bonded Catherine Wheel-the twists and turns of the body were deceptively simple and smoothly controlled with occasional fizzing at unexpected moments. The spaces and between the dancers and their limbs became the dynamics and the music sometimes opposed sometimes sympathised with the choreography and the T-Rex ending gave the vintage touch – BUT - where was that shock? The bare buttocks? The startling rethink of dance that caught all unawares in the past? Perhaps it called for a post-performance talk to hear the interesting back story?

By Lisa Sang:
Dance, Politics, and Bach

An ‘audience ambassador’
I like The Arts, in all its cultural and historic diversity, but I have always had a suspicion that something more is happening than meets the eye, especially when it comes to more contemporary/ abstract forms. Consciously or unconsciously I try to make sense of it all, but lacking a strong ‘language’, I get slightly uncomfortable and that makes me less likely to choose to go to an event. When you can’t speak clearly about something, how can you communicate it/communicate with it? With dance, for example, traditional classical and modern ballet feels more straightforward: there is a clear narrative, very defined male and female role and costume, sublime technique, set patterns. I know what to expect and what is expected of me as observer, it is comfortable. It can also be exclusive.

Has anything changed in my understanding after taking part in the South East Dance Audience Ambassador Scheme, which began with meeting choreographer/maker Julian Hetzel, followed by an exposure to the work of choreographer Michael Clark?

Meeting Julian and Miguel shifted my perspective, I began to see dance not in isolation from the rest of social life, but as an intrinsic part of it. It was subtle and difficult to unpick at first, but I was finding a way in, often through conversations with more knowledgeable others as well as completely non-dance others. Although I had been used to other art forms being discussed in terms of how they may reflect, expand, or enable the understanding of ideas, dance was for me a pure aesthetic, somehow outside this dialogue.
Did this insight help interpret Michael Clark and his choreography? I’ll get to that in a bit, but firstly I have to say I was blown away by the experience of seeing ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’. I know my fellow ambassadors felt the same way, as we left the theatre we were all animated by what we had seen. The performance was exciting, visceral, intense, and beautiful. Everything fitted together into an exacting whole: music, lighting, costume, movement – each aspect adding to the other – it became more than the sum of its parts (as wonderful as these were in themselves). We had read, and seen films and videos of, Michael Clark’s biography and choreography - from the early 1980’s ‘bad boy of British ballet’, defiant and confrontational; through his exploration of Diaghilev and Stravinsky; to his revisiting his roots in a mature style. By the way (a little aside here) ‘Mature’, ‘he has matured’, ‘he has come of age’, are all comments I read about this work. It struck a horrible chord with me having recently come of age (described as ‘mature’, with ‘wisdom’, whatever that means). Mature feels like a pejorative term – equated with ‘past it’, sold out. Michael Clark is anything but…he has become tempered steel, still fresh sharp, cutting edge…and wonderfully human. If you get a chance, go and see it.

How would I describe Michael Clarke’s choreography? A kaleidoscope of movement forms - classical ballet, modern ballet, contemporary, even folk dance. It seemed as if he was showing us all these forms in order to reveal their nature and, in the mix, to let something new emerge. There was a satisfying dissonance to it. And when I watched the videos I heard Baroque music. His use of two polarised forms of dance – smooth modern classical and jagged punk – felt like the dance equivalent of a musical ‘suspension’. (This is where one voice holds a note and the other voice moves to the note next to it, and then the first voice slightly leans towards the second before pulling away again). Hearing the point at which the two voices just about rub together creates an almost physical sensation, like an electrostatic charge (or trying to catch an elusive aroma).
“I can see when something makes sense physically and I can feel it, you don’t forget what it feels like to dance…” Michael Clark says being interviewed about being choreographer not dancer. This really translates into the dancers bodies: the technique displayed was as exact and exacting as any I had seen on the classical stage, but deep mastery of technique has also allowed the Company to simultaneously break free of its rules and forms by introducing the very different punk element. I would imagine this is really challenging for a dancer. The choreography explores the boundaries, makes us see and feel the limitations and the possibilities of dance. Then he takes it a bit further – small, economical gestures, opening and closing a hand, brought into focus. Magic.

And so to politics (small ‘p’). ‘The past is another country’ but people in their 20s and 30s who did not experience the anti-establishment, anarchic force that was Punk can still hear and see it in the work of Michael Clark and the music of the Fall (Mark E Smith), and Scritti Politi (but I can relax a bit with them). At the time Margaret Thatcher was embarking on a mission to change British Society by challenging the established order, from Unions to the Civil Service (whether this was a good move or not will depend on your point of view). Punk seemed a much-needed counterpoint, giving a real focus to opposition, even though it was a very loose amorphic thing – not a ‘movement’, but a collection of activities that ordinary people were voicing, independent largely of established social structures. While the Conservative Government was busy cutting funding to Arts bodies, Michael Clark was asking whether they were relevant in this form: the crucial difference was that he was not challenging society’s need for them, nor the need for artistic expression itself. A Cultural Guerrilla.
In ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ there is a fierce individuality and independence on show, keeping the challenge alive and kicking. Even if we look at gender, we can see the political principles at work. Male and female dancers are given largely similar costume and step, there is little discrimination on gender lines. Again, this reminds me how far we have come from the misogyny and homophobia rampant in the social structures of the 1970s and 1980s. I like to be reminded that challenging the norm is quite enlivening, inside this 60 year-old body is a ‘bad’ girl still waiting in the wings.

I knew nothing of this when I took part in a half-day workshop Michael Clark’s company ran in Brighton before their Dome performance. Three of the Company had given up rehearsal time to work with a group of older people, some from the Three Score Dance Company. There I met at first hand some of the movements I saw on stage, my body inhabited a different space, my mind experienced a different challenge. The workshop used part from a choreographed piece devised for a group of 50 members of the public, untrained and all shapes and sizes, who danced with the Company in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in 2011. The intent behind this was the hope the event would become ‘a positive virus’ as the dancers took out their experience to friends and networks. Giving untrained dancers a similar experience of movement and performance to that which professional dancers experience feels very much part of the democratic impulse, one that is positive and inclusive: building new networks and new patterns of working together. It is also fun. If any of you reading this blog are my age (wise-mature, invisible), I would urge you to look up Three Score Dance Company and join up.

And so to Bach. Glen Gould (a pianist I would describe as erudite punk, if punk is an attitude) says of JS Bach that he was not so much ahead of his time as outside it. “Bach, you see, was music’s greatest non-conformist, and one of the supreme examples of that independence of the artistic conscience”. Society needs artists like JS Bach, Stravinsky, bands like The Fall, choreographers like Michael Clark, to allow us to explore the boundaries of the established order so that we can choose, for ourselves, where we place ourselves.


Circus Street Retrospective

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

Dancer at Circus Street

Image from Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance © Zoe Manders

We had an absolute blast programming at Circus Street Market and almost 15,000 people encountered the work that took place there. We have gathered the impressions and memories of a handful of people who engaged with the space, to celebrate the variety and the vibrancy of everything that took place as we anticipate the future.

Click here to check out some pictures, memories and anecdotes from the past two years.

We would love to hear any of your own memories of the space via Facebook or Twitter #SEDdancespaceissue


Humans: fascinatingly intricate animals by Eve Stainton

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

The Old Market Theatre in Hove hosted Victor on 24 March. A piece by Jan Martens and Peter Seynaeve which brought a 16 year old boy and young man, Viktor Caudron and Steven Michel, to share the same mass of lowly lit space.

I got the feeling something extraordinary was about to happen.


Image © Phile Deprez

We were presented with a long period of time, which encouragingly granted us the permission to study Viktor and Steven’s bodies; the skin surrounding their soft eyes, the placement of the lower rib, the delicate protrusion of the stretch of the collar bone, the difference in thickness of the lower arm, the age of the torso. I searched for comparison and, among all the differences, there appeared to be a growing similarity between the two. The interestingly small age gap highlighted the idea of innocence and experience in a tensioned play of power, tact and reliance. Boyhood, manhood and the merging mid ground. Their bodies were alive, which seemed quite obvious, but somehow new. I felt privileged by their humble presence.

This period developed into a dense quietness, which seemed to give birth to a well of conceptual thoughts. During this time, still near the beginning, I found myself wondering if it’s sufficient to explore youth and age by showing youth and age. My conceptual brain was craving to see something radical, like two odd buildings placed next to each other whose shape and distance could subsequently invoke thoughts of relationship, time and humanity. I realise this is absurd. It makes me wonder why, or if, it is in our nature to personify things? Perhaps personification offers comfort in knowing our surroundings, a deeper familiarity to the world we live in, things can become something we share our world with on an emotional level, for reassurance and safety. But maybe that has nothing to do with it. Maybe this simply comes down to my own need to analyse and be challenged by what I see to the point of impossibility. It was then, during this silently brewing whirlwind, as Steven and Viktor slowly planted their synchronised feet through a locked gaze, I uncovered a deeper connection which relieved me from naivety. What we saw here is everything. The fundamental simplest form of representation. We witnessed what was happening and saw what we relate everything else to. Bodies, generations, sensitivity, humans, buildings, life… From then on, my relationship to the piece was existing within another realm, one elevated from the microcosmic action.

I’ve found myself feeling the importance of another side to the piece which seems too relevant to miss, but difficult to tackle (and probably shouldn’t be difficult to tackle). A predominant thought for me was sex; sex in a sense of desire and needs. During the post-show talk, there was an important discussion regarding paedophilia, which we learnt was also heavily acknowledged during Jan and Peter’s process; when does something become paedophilloic? Not that the piece was about this, but that it had been brought up previously in conversation post show. Somehow for me it wasn’t so prevalent, perhaps because I had a subconscious want for it not to be a theme in case it uncovered a dark side to the piece that could morph it into something far from my personal journey. I felt it was cleverly crafted in such a way that allowed for many responses, for me this section was concerning sexualised desires of a man in comparison to a boy and the consequence of the two happening simultaneously. A beautiful section that explored this involved Viktor being held repeatedly in different places around Steven’s body to create a sequence that increased in pace and intensity. As Steven grew more tired, his breath became audible in a rhythmic pattern mimicking the sequence. It culminated in Viktor’s torso slapping against Stevens back, forcing an exhausted breath out of Steven’s body. This conjured thoughts on dependency. The smaller body was completely dependent on the strength and decision making of the supporting body almost in need for comfort, whilst the supporting body needed something different for his satisfaction, a human as a sexual being, whilst still being responsible for support. Viktor was off the floor for the entirety of the section. I thought about growth, development, innocence, need, strength and nurture. This was realised at the very end of the piece, as Viktor was again lifted from his feet to a weightless place of heavy dependency. It was married with gospel, spiritual sounds which filled the room with an emotional cloud of realisation, ongoingness and the constant unfolding of time. It held the reassurance that, aside from wants and needs, wisdom and adult nurture will take over and that willingness to protect is a human instinct. An absolute sacrifice for support. Viktor was in the air because Steven was on the ground. And I was living somewhere in between.


Q&A with Lee Halligan

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

Lee Halligan

Image © Thomas Butler

Name: Lee Halligan

Job Title: Associate at ShedKM Architects and Project Director for the Circus Street project, Brighton

Relationship to South East Dance: Our team are designing a wonderful new Dance Space building for you, and are very proud of it!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A Pilot, then an Architect. My Dad's an Architect though, so it inevitably influences you in the end...

What has been your greatest achievement?

It's going to be the Circus Street project - when it is built.

What does dance mean to you?

To be honest, dance music and going to the Cream nightclub in Liverpool every weekend between the age of 17 and 21. Dancing in amazing warehouses like that made a huge impression on me.

What is your favourite piece of music to dance to?

Spaced Invader by Hatiras... it builds and builds.

What's the best bit about your job?


What's the worst bit about your job?


If you were a famous building, which would you be and why?

This is always going to have an embarrassing answer. Maybe the Sydney Opera House (the first 'famous' that always comes to mind)... because I like to be surrounded by water.

What is top of your bucket list?

Cycle the length of America. I've done Wales and Holland.

Who do you most admire, and why?

I never have answer for this. Anyone who has an optimistic, youthful attitude.

What makes you happy?



Theo Clinkard - Snap Shot

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

Of Land and Tongue

Image from Of Land and Tongue by Theo Clinkard © Zoe Manders

Written by Theo Clinkard

I selected this image from my recent company work Of Land and Tongue, mostly because it makes me want to shout "what the hell is going on there?"

This show draws on foreign words that don't directly translate into English and this is an early section of the work that the dancers and I call the cacophony. In this part, the performers attempt to physicalise 'Potto', a Japanese word which roughly means 'to be so distracted that you don't notice what is happening right in front of you.'

I am excited by images of live performances that leave space for curiosity; that are somehow are a question rather than a summary. I believe that good dance images always remind us that they are in fact only representations of an experience and that you would only get a fuller picture if you were there in person. As the live experience is fighting for its place in the age of screens and flat versions of 4 dimensional phenomena are a regular part of each day, I think an image like this, partly as it features an audience in the frame, could serve to mobilise people to engage with the form, in person.

In direct opposition to marketing research surrounding 'successful dance imagery', I recently realised that, without exception, the imagery I select to promote my dance creations always leave the performers faces obscured; turned away, masked by hands, smoke or hair. These choices have until now been subconscious and only by reflecting through this Snap Shot has some smoke around my decision making lifted!

Thanks to Zoe Manders for beautifully capturing just enough to make us curious, but not giving it all away.

Theo Clinkard's double bill Chalk / Of Land & Tongue will be touring this spring:

The Robin Howard Theatre at The Place

16 April - 8pm
17 April - 7pm + 9pm
18 April - 3pm

Dance East

15 April - 6.30pm + 8.30pm

Farnham Maltings

18 April - 8pm


What will The Dance Space mean?

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

Dancers on Brighton beach

Image from Where the Land Meets the Sea by Charlie Morrissey © Matthew Andrews

Written by Charlie Morrissey

Brighton is home to, and has a reputation for, an unusually large and diverse community of exceptional and hard-working dancers and dance makers, many of whom are recognized and celebrated nationally and internationally for their work.

And yet there is no home for dance in the city; no single place dedicated to an art form which is so well represented by the many practitioners here; no place that exists to acknowledge and support the rich landscape of dance that happens in the area, or the huge contribution it has made, and continues to make to the cultural vibrancy and unique character of a city which, I think, is very much about movement.

Having organized and engaged in a great deal of dance activity in the city over a number of years, it has always been a frustration to me that there is no place here which is devoted to dance – no established building in which to meet, to work, and to encounter the wealth and diversity of the community of dance artists we have here.

The Dance Space will create a context within which dance makers and their collaborators; as well as interested audiences and others can pass through; to meet, talk, challenge, and engage with this art form, and to interact in a whole variety of ways which are simply not catered for at present.

A building like this can offer a catalyst for all kinds of meaningful creative exchange.

One of the frustrations of having no central space for dance is that it's difficult for things to take hold here – for a critical mass to be reached, because everything is so temporary. So much is about meeting in the in between spaces, fleetingly.

The solidity of a building will, I hope, provide a real anchor for the dance community. The fact that it will continue to be there tomorrow and tomorrow could provide a confidence in a future, and therefore a context around which to plan and develop sustainable and ambitious dance activity, both within the building and across the city.

In my 24 years of living here, I have been generously supported by the number of great small venues and organisations throughout the city who helped where they could with space and resources. But much of the time has been spent trying to make do with spaces of all shapes and sizes, not fit for purpose, and in various states of repair, grabbing what I could in order to facilitate and create the work I've been involved in making happen here.

Working on carpets and hard floors, in cold spaces, in noisy rooms, on dirty floors and so on. I now rarely work in Brighton, in part because it's just easier to find space which is much more fit for purpose, in environments which feel much more geared towards catering for dance, in other places. And this is a common problem – many of the Brighton and Hove based dance artists I know rarely work in Brighton, and yet are nationally and internationally celebrated artists who create their work elsewhere, and therefore deprive Brighton and Hove of much of what they and their collaborators from across the world have to offer.

As someone who has worked with many diverse communities in Brighton – many of whom had had little or no previous direct of experience of the arts; I have seen how dance activity and the creative physical engagement that it offers has, in many cases, impacted so profoundly on their lives. I have seen and felt the power that dance has to bring people together in really energizing, physical and empowering ways.

This building can offer a space for communities and professionals to engage with each other so that both can be informed and inspired by each other, and so that the work of the building can truly reflect the realities of the people living here. This should be a space that is for and of the city.

The Dance Space will offer purpose built studios – with proper heating and sprung floors – a place to work – to get things done, and to get work made in an inspiring, professional and concentrated working environment.

It will provide a centre which will nurture and champion the work of the dance community and will provide a focus for them and their collaborators and contributors; as well as for audiences – both existing and those who have yet to discover all of the great things that dance has to offer here in Brighton.

And not only does it present the locally based artists a home, but is also a beacon for people from national and international communities to recognize and interact with the dance scene here in Brighton and the UK via the portal of the high-calibre dance space that will be created. In this way, it can provide a landmark – a focal point and a coordinate on the dance map – a place that says that dance is important and relevant here in Brighton, and has an important and very particular role to play in the wider national and international dance and arts ecology.

I really hope that South East Dance, with all of the pressures on it from funding bodies and politics, are free to and can be supported in being able provide the kind of space that they are aspiring to create - it would be so good if this space could feel like something living, and as free of bureaucracy as possible. Brighton has such a great history of making things happen in odd spaces - necessity being the Mother of Invention, and I wonder how the innovative creative thinking that makes this work happen can be invited into and integrated in the creation of this space. I feel like there needs to be more consultation with the dance community in Brighton - face to face - the dance artists here are such a great diverse bunch who can really properly think outside the box... in fact - most of them find it very difficult to think inside the box, and so it's important that this dance space doesn't become just that - a box.

I just really hope that can be a space for provocation, agitation, for living and breathing, and making a mess in - that the built-ness of it and all of the commitments and compromises that come along with it don't get in the way of it being the brilliant and vibrant space that South East Dance are all working so hard to create.

This building says that dance matters; it's a vote of confidence and an investment in all the ways that dance does matter and can and does contribute to people's lives.

Placing this building right in the heart of the city will be a huge injection of cultural energy into Brighton and Hove and will support and celebrate the city and it's dance and wider arts communities, making visible the extent to which it is a growing centre of excellence for this art form and for the rigorous creative thinking behind it.

Dance, perhaps more than any other art form, is about collaboration across mediums; and as such the arrival of this space can have a galvanizing and enlivening impact on all of the arts communities in the city.

It will make it much more possible for the dance artists that live here to work and collaborate here so that the whole city can benefit from their work.

This space is important, and its coming will mark a real milestone in Brighton's coming of age as a fully-fledged and significant player in the cultural life of this country. I believe that this country is in real need of such milestones right now, and I celebrate The Dance Space's timely arrival.


The Dance Space Vision

Monday, 30 March 2015 09:54

Jamie Watton in Circus Street

Image from Circus Street Market © Zoe Manders

Written by Jamie Watton


Performance at Circus Street
Image from Of Land and Tongue by Theo Clinkard, at Circus Street Market © Zoe Manders.

The Dance Space will be terrific – enabling people to get closer to what dance is, what it can do and who it's for. I think we sometimes get caught up with dance having to be something we watch...The Dance Space will enable us to broaden that and encourage people to experience it in different ways. Experiencing it in a theatre is just one way (all be it a very powerful way), but also doing it; taking part in a class, talking about dance, experiencing what it's like for an artist when they are making work, hearing about the puzzles they are trying to solve, hearing about what inspires them and why they make one choice over another, having a go and just throwing yourself into the deep end.

I think the space will well and truly put Brighton and the South East on the map as a place where there are extraordinary artists making extraordinary work. But also as a city that people can come to make extraordinary work – a place where challenging, thought provoking, experimental work is welcomed and celebrated. A place where a different approach to choreography is encouraged.

Just by having a 'home' it means we can invite people in. We can host them, we can introduce them to other people. We can have some fun. That has been so hard to do for South East Dance as an office based organisation. I can't wait to connect artists and communities working in Brighton to those working across the UK and beyond. By having dedicated accommodation on site we can quite literally do this. We can create a home...and that idea has very much influenced the design of the building.


Installation at Circus Street

Image from Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2 by William Forsythe, at Circus Street Market © Victor Frankowski.

In conversation with artists there is just such an incredible need for this space in Brighton. We have some really fantastic artists in the city and the South East but it feels in a way they are homeless. I personally think you need to have a home to really develop a community.

We will be challenging artists. We want to connect them to communities because ultimately we want to get more people involved and excited by dance. Once The Dance Space is open we will continue to deliver participatory projects that connect artists to audiences – but we want to find new ways, more meaningful ways and perhaps more interesting ways of doing so. Artists are the best people to drive this – working with us to define ways to engage with people that are many, varied and right for them.

In ten years' time, following all the work we will have done through The Dance Space I'm hoping that local communities will think differently about dance. I'm hoping that they will see it as a fantastically inspiring, thought provoking, social, fun, weird and wonderful, life affirming, bonkers, gratifying, healthy, exhilarating thing to be involved with. I hope that it enables them to make new friends, see the world in a different light and celebrate the power of creativity. Not much really...but all stuff that dance has done for me.


Performance at Circus Street

Image from A String Section by Reckless Sleepers, at Circus Street Market © Zoe Manders.

One of the things I am most excited about actually being in The Dance Space is being closer to creative people. Also being able to introduce people living and working in Brighton to those living and working beyond the city. I can't wait to be a creative match maker.

We have conversations with artists all the time, commission work and programme work. However I'm really excited about having conversations in the studio, being part of the conversation as work develops and maybe even helping (when asked) to realise great ideas.

I also think just being connected to participants of our work and people who use the building - who want to come and find out more, have a go, take part in a class, take part in a workshop, propose a project. Having that direct relationship with our public will feel like a blessing after working for so many years without having a front door. It will feel like a final part to the jigsaw puzzle – rather than seeing what people feel about our work on paper or on line...just being able to have direct conversations in a conducive environment. I also look forward to seeing how the public respond to what we are trying to do as an organisation, and hopefully feed our plans for the future.


Workshop at Circus Street

Image from an Urban Playground workshop, at Circus Street Market © Zoe Manders.

We've still got to raise a significant amount of money to get The Dance Space built. We're getting there and with just over £3million in place we've done really well – particularly in the current climate. However the final £800k needed to make it a reality and throw open the doors is going to be tough. We're just about to launch our fundraising campaign – which will start to emerge in the coming months around Brighton. We'll do it...but there will be some sleepless nights. I need to plug that any donations, regardless of size, are most welcome and will, in fact, be necessary to ensure The Dance Space is built. If you want to donate, or want to have a conversation about how you can help The Dance Space become a reality contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website.

I think there is also a challenge in terms of getting the programme right. With funding for the arts under strain we have to have a really solid business model in place that enables us to do the things we want to do (support choreographic research, the creation of new work and ensure everyone in the city has an opportunity to enjoy dance) but at the same time we need to ensure we can pay the bills to keep what is going to be a beautiful and valuable resource for the city, region and beyond up and running.

But most importantly – we need people to use this space. We've been fighting really hard to get it this far, and once we have moved in we will need all our varied communities to help us make it work. Everyone is welcome.


Can You Tell What It Is Yet?.... By Ms.Merized

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 10:26

ANIMAL / VEGETABLE / MINERAL: Michael Clark Dance Company, Brighton Dome Wednesday 11th March 2015


Show & Tell

The clue had to be right there in the title of Michael Clark's latest dance production at the Brighton Dome Wednesday 11th March, harking back to the hugely popular long-running TV & radio show, otherwise known as '20 Questions' - a game of deduction with 3 categories: Animal (alive); Vegetable (growing); mineral (not alive, doesn't grow & comes from the ground) being the only clue given to the panel at the start of each round where the word must be correctly arrived at through a filter of questions. The audience, however, are privy to 'the mystery voice' announcing, for them only, the word to be identified. In this context a single spotlight was focused on a performer down on the auditorium floor - the visual equivalent of an aside - before the performance / game began. In keeping with the general cluelessness at the start of the process we had very little to go on, unable at this stage to even guess at gender: dancers looked identical. The music too gave little away, sweet and level in tone for several tracks.


Clues EveryWhichWay

With each question asked, or dance performed, a little more is revealed. It's possible, however, to think you know the answer, only to discover you've been on the wrong tack entirely. Clue succeeds clue: the dots still need to be connected. If for any reason you miss the word given at the start, it can be hard work getting clued up, but the false leads and misinterpretations are part of the fun of the game. Everything is a possible clue & this worked so well with lighting by Charles Atlas; costumes by Stevie Stewart, and music by Relaxed Muscle; Scritti Pollitti; The Sex Pistols; Pulp & others; plus little details, like 'drawing' (in a lyric) mirrored by the action of a dancer's leg (delightful!); and hand signals that showed: Pointing (indication / selection); Beckoning; Negation / Denial. All clues! With a lot of backtracking in the 4th piece: dancers reversing before advancing: recapping: eliminating dead leads, making new connections like professors & clerics (hands held behind the back). 

'You can find a station with talking...' went the line of a lyric (dancers as radio tuning dial, and listener). Words should make things, but not always. Think of the scope for misinterpretation due to the absence of tone/ expression when texting which, like tofu, takes on the flavour of the recipient's state of mind. Text appeared on the back screen: disordered, back-to-front, random, sequential, breaking up. We seek to connect; search for meaning, look for signs & signals; tune in to wavelengths & good reception in the human zoo of life, where we're all performers of one kind or another. The costumes signalled significant developments along the way, from homogenous genderlessness to greater definition: 3 disparate colours up-front, shadow element behind, to a final glorious burst of orange. If the Oscars in the Oscar-making factory could party, they'd look like this, I found myself thinking; with just a hint of Clockwork Orange in dancer-as-chair pose. The audience was dazzled by mirror-spotlights: we were all in it together. 

Mass media; mass production, and all-in-all a massive success, although there were times we were completely in the dark; but then - That's Animal / Vegetable / Mineral for you! 

Good game! Good game! We all came out Winners - Thanks to the Michael Clark Company.

Blog post by Ms.Merized. Read her blog here.


Q&A with Sally Abbott

Monday, 02 March 2015 10:50


Name: Sally Abbott

Job Title: Director of Arts and Culture, Canterbury Christ Church University
Relationship to South East Dance: Chair of the Board of Trustees

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An ice skater! Until a friend and I found a frozen pond to practice on and fell in - the glamour of ice skating just seemed to disappear.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I was promoting a new chocolate chip cookie and had to wear this huge bear costume and walk around a supermarket - I just remember how hot it was but at least no one recognised me!

What first got you interested in dance?
As a kid I loved dancing in front of Top of the Pops. Amazingly I didn't join Pan's People but instead went on to train at Laban after being hugely inspired and mesmerised by 1920's films of the black American dancer Josephine Baker.

What is the most memorable performance you have seen?
Vaguement Derrière by Alias, choreographed by Guilherme Botelho. I think it was 2004 and I was completely blown away by the intense physicality of the dancers and the complex and yet moving choreography.

What is your favourite disco move?
Currently it's the one that gets me to the bar the quickest.

Who do you most admire, and why?
Peter Brinson - he was a dance educationalist but also a script writer, editing many dance films. He directed the pioneering Royal Ballet's Ballet For All, which took ballet to small towns and villages across the UK. I had the privilege of spending a year studying under him in 1982, when he became Head of Postgraduate Studies at the Laban Centre after he offered me the Laban scholarship for that year.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Karl Marx, Josephine Baker and John Coltrane.

If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?
That question is too daft to answer.

What would your super power be?
I would like to be able to fly.

What do you wish you had more time to do?
Train my young horse out on the South Downs - we are starting to compete now and I have high hopes for us but only if we practice, practice, practice......


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