We saved the biggest week for last.
This was no weekend, oh no. The dance started on Tuesday. And it didn’t just happen in the theatre. This was the week that we took dance out and about around the city.
We carefully scheduled intriguing works that could appeal to the masses. We had Reckless Sleepers, in residence with us for the week at the same time, performing a Swing Section, in different locations every day. A Swing Section is carefully structured performance art meets dance with 5 dancers, 5 chairs and 5 saws.
The begin by looking at the audience, or the passers by as the case may be, and then, slowly, over 45 minutes, saw the chairs that hold them up. There’s something that really matters about seeing women dismantling the very structure that holds them up. They do it so gracefully, dancing in a variety of different positions as they performed the task in hand. And then they leave. And bits of sawed chair and left on the street.
This piece was intriguing and really grabbed people’s attention. It was really fun to ‘make the city a stage’, one of Aberdeen City Council’s funding requirements and allowed us to engage with a lot more audience.
On the final night we collaborated with Sound Music Festival and placed a String Section with an electronic sound musician. This was the first time I’d seen the piece performed inside, and the sound score accompanying it really added an extra dimension. It was lovely to be introducing artists and art forms to one another and to encourage collaboration. With so many festivals going on in Aberdeen, we can certainly work together.
As part of my role at Citymoves I manage the Cashback for Creativity funded project, Project Strive. It aims to engage with young people, predominantly males, aged between 10 – 25 years in areas of deprivation. We have a variety of drop in dance and basketball classes out and about around the city which take places in community centres, in parks outdoors and at football clubs. Part of the aim is to inspire people. We have engaged with 650+ young people, and I wanted to show them the performance side of dance as well as the participatory.
A few years ago, when I had been assessor for Total Theatre Awards at The Edinburgh Fringe, I saw a piece of work that stayed with me. Oona Doherty performed Hope Hunt, a performance so convincing, that was based on young males living in deprivation in Ireland. It was a perfect match.
I decided to bring Oona to Aberdeen at the same time as DanceLive, because if the community performance was not to work for whatever reason (we try a variety of things – some work, some don’t) then we could count on the general public being engaged with DanceLive to attend an extra performance. However, this was not needed.
The performance was held at our Schoolhill Studio, a city centre, neutral location. It began with all the audience waiting outside the theatre. A car then drove up Belmont Street, music blaring, and Oona fell out of the boot to perform on the street. We organised transport and tutors to go out to the community to take participants in. They loved it. It is contemporary dance theatre, that feels raw and tells a story, however each and every one seemed to be engaged and to really love what she was doing. Much of the feedback has been that of inspired. And it makes me very happy that we created a community only performance, with one of the most sought after contemporary dance artists specially for them. This fund really does allow us to create magic and I truly believe that every community participant that came to see this show that was only for them, felt very special.
It was also helped along by the DJ set that played afterward by her car driver; something that is very much so part of the show. We couldn’t get them to leave! Everyone just wanted to stay and dance. It was really excellent to see.
This show was sold out again the night after, however this time to the general public.
Oona delivered two workshops for Citymoves during her time here: one at Grampian Prison, where sessions have since continued as part of Citymoves Project Strive Programme, and one for professional dancers. This was the first pro workshop she has delivered in Scotland and we were honoured to have it here at our studio.
Classes during the festival provided a wonderful way to dance with the general public and artists alike. They also made the festival more lucrative for those travelling from afar. I know for me, I would maybe travel to Glasgow to see dance, but if I could also take part in a workshop, I would definitely go. I really enjoyed what the workshops brought to the festival.
We also had a dance film playing in the Lecture Theatre of The Anatomy Rooms. SHUT DOWN Installation by Vincent Dance Theatre was played across 6 screens, using spoken word, rap, drama and dance to convey themes of masculinity. We had the film looping, and people could come and watch all through the day.
We also had dance happening out and about that day, with Claricia Parinussa performing her critically acclaimed solo by Aberdeen’s infamous Leopard Sculpture by Andy Scott (Same artist who designed the Kelpies). As well as Katie Milroy’s choreography on two dancers, Rachel Morgan and Millie Daniel-Dempsey. This duet was performed around the city and caught many a passers by attention.
All of the above pieces were brought together to create the final night of the festival, the closing party. We were delighted that six Degrees North kindly provided a bar for us, and we converted the space into a relaxed Saturday evening atmosphere, dance happening in different spaces around the Anatomy Rooms.
It was a great way to finish, and to bring everyone together to celebrate what just happened. I am so delighted that DanceLive exists, Scotland’s most prolific and longest running festival dedicated solely to contemporary dance. It really provides opportunity for the art form to be celebrated, and brings people to Aberdeen.
Springback magazine kindly reflected on the festival
It was such a pleasure to be Festival Co-Director of DanceLive, an opportunity I never thought I would have gotten. It’s funny how things work out…
The curation process was done as a team of 4 and we took the festival forward as a team of 2, employing freelancers along the way to help make it all happen. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved and who really did make DanceLive18 what it was.
‘Be part of the movement…..’
Photo: See Imagine Define