The Rebel Man Standard Interview
What do you consider to be the relationship to politics in your work?
I think that to dance despite and in the face of a world that is this messed up is a radical act. That the process of creating something beautiful, whether it is a good bottle of wine or a piece of music, in a world with this much violence, is a means of individual and collective survival.
If we look at the history of dance, as an art form it has always been placed hierarchically at the bottom of the pile. If, on the one hand this means that as dance artists we always find that we have to explain what exactly it is that we do, particularly within the high culture crowd, who often dismiss dance to mere entertainment, it also becomes a useful media to work with from an anti-establishment guerrilla point of view. Dance by definition is elusive and transient, and precisely because it is not easily placed within the market (after all, lets be honest, you cannot really sell a piece of dance like you would a painting), it lends itself to becoming an exciting terrain for a critique of the current state of affairs.
I am at a point in my practice where the desire to be part of something bigger than myself has led me to question why I use movement as a means of expression. In the age of the Selfie and Iphone photography, where everybody is an actor on the stage of social media why am I still using my body to represent and communicate?
Choreography as a term today is on every body’s lips like a cold sore and it is used with relation to the most disparate of activities, from the movement of a flock of birds to the compositional structure of a military attack. British contemporary dance continues, for the most part, to replicate the austerity regime that we are witnessing in the current socio-political climate by perpetuating the hetero-normative fallacy. We need to ask ourselves why we are still witnessing, for the most part, the kind of post-modern interpretive dancing that bewilders everyone apart from those performing it, or worse, using the body and movement as an elitist practice, performed preferably by white 25 year old girls in nighties. In my 20’s I used to do Burlesque performances as a way to pay the rent and I am well aware of the kind of white physicality and eroticism I represent. Personally I am interested in how we might subvert the very codes that saturate our western society, for instance sexuality, instead of passively accepting the status quo: how might we, for example, utilize the stereotypical sexiness of a dancer and what kind of titillation is being produced as an act of provocation that raises questions on the nature of sexuality and gender itself. I think this subversion of codes applies to a variety of subject matters. By this I do not mean that we must all become activists and read Marx but we do however need to tap into a collective responsibility towards the way that society is shaped by the actions and messages we decide to stand by.
I feel that I have always identified with artists who sit at the edge of society, observing the rich tapestry of human idiosyncrasies and contradictions. I often seek beauty in the most unexpected of places, the back alleys and underground scenes of the urban sprawl, which I consider my stomping ground and I feel that I can only make work if I have something to push up against.
There was a point in my art practice where I felt I had to stop making art all together, that I had nothing to say and that, what I had to say, made no difference to anyone. I think I had to touch rock bottom and reach a level of complete creative stasis, before realizing that the process of questioning what and why I feel the need to make is, in of itself, reason enough to call myself an artist. I needed to break down the barrier between production and creation. The act of questioning our position and role within society is necessarily political, for to situate any discourse outside of the socio-economic and political climate we find ourselves existing in is like believing in the existence of mini ponies, unicorns or the minotaur, but also aligning oneself with the blindness of the neo-liberal state, and a passive acceptance of the injustice that is inherent within the free market values of the western economy.
What are your thoughts on the relationships between language and dance, within your work or otherwise?
I try to subvert this relationship as much as I can. Western society is founded upon the Cartesian dogma of mind over body and functions through the supremacy of language and deliberation over intuition. I wish to make art that breaks down the hierarchy of language over movement and questions the rational over more instinctive modes of existing in the world. In this sense I approach Language(s) for what they are: a means of communication. I work with different medias/languages choreographically, without pin pointing one as having more value than another. Sometimes the work has the shape of a piece of text, sometimes it manifests in dance and many times it is distilled into an image.
Guest question: What's the best dance move you've ever seen?
I am still waiting to see it. Which is why I am still in love with dance in exactly the same way as when I first started out at age five. I reckon that’s true for most of the things that make me happy today: I feel the same unadulterated bliss I felt as a kid.
Can you provide us with a guest question to ask the next person we interview
Does your work necessitate an arena, and if so, why is it important for your work to be viewed by others?