Features Performance Published 15 October 2014

Dance Social

Gillie Kleiman is an artist who works in community dance and choreography and a core member of dance and performance magazine BELLYFLOP. Recently she has begun to curate, presenting the work of international artists in London and the northeast of England. Her latest project, A Lyrical Dance Concert, is on tour from 5th November 2014.
Gillie Kleiman

A dance made by socialising, by laughing and talking

By singing and remembering and searching for the thing that’s just out of memory

By thinking together

The sociality of a courtship, where being with others enhances the being-as-two

And where the being-as-two has to – no, there’s no will involved, it just does it, it just makes the other twos and threes and fours and the rest more twos and threes and fours and the rest

When I’m in my swing dance class

(I’ve been to three

To say it’s “mine” is a push (and a pull) (and a promise) as much as calling A Lyrical Dance Concert a social dance might be from a certain angle)

Anyway, when I’m in my swing dance class

I know which partners I prefer to dance with

I don’t know what the criteria are exactly

I just know

Something about height and confidence and hold and if I think they really don’t mind my sweatiness as opposed to just saying “mmm, it’s hot in here, isn’t it” not as a question but as a way to tell me they’re uncomfortable

I know which ones fit

Sara fits

Sara and I fit

We are an easy double act

One blonde one brown

One thin one fat

One sings one dances (sort of)

Same height, same shoes, same sometimes really problematically stupid sense of humour

And now Ellie will dance for Sara, who is making a new partner-in-crime in her body right now (wow)

That makes us three, sort of, and four, with Kit, our technician and stage-friend, and five, with Beckie, running about mainly via email making sure everything happens as it’s supposed to, doing the producer thing

But still two on stage really, two billed, two photographed for real and in mind’s eyes

Ellie and I also fit, but it’s a new fit, one practised not on stages or in studios but in pubs and kebab shops and playing really quite boring board games in my mum’s dining room once

One cropped one long

One thin one fat

Both sing both dance (sort of)

Same height, same hair colour, same sense of humour in a totally different way

But still the same sociality of two, two as making more, as multiplying

We need to check the fit (soon)

We will check the fit on the first night of the tour, and probably always thereafter

Checking that we want the same for the audience and from the audience

We also check the fit with the audience

We check how they’re sitting

Has anyone come alone?

We check what they’re drinking

What they’re saying

If they’re laughing

If they’re singing

And as we check we also test

How far to go? How quick?

We mustn’t lose them

It’s a risk

A sociality of expectation

A transaction

They pay, we are paid

They pay also with attention, and then pay again with participation

They pay for our attention right back, for our provocation, for our care that they have an experience that belongs only to this place and time and situation and no other, not really

We hope

We want

We want it to work how we want it to work

Of course

That depends on everyone present; the show cannot continue if nobody wants to come on stage to spin the mirrorball or if nobody wants to make a music video (for their eyes only)

Luckily an audience is not an audience but a bunch of people

A public

A mixed-up jumble (not that mixed-up, it is experimental performance after all)

So there’s always one or two who want to

Share a problem

Touch a body

Build a bridge

Fall in love

Help a ghost

Do any of the other stupid things we do in the name of conjuring alternative socialities

And having a laugh

So that the others can do what they want to do, which might be just being quiet and having a drink, maybe they’ve been dragged here by a friend, it’s someone’s birthday or they felt they had to come because they’ve heard about it and like me they think they need to know about all the performances happening at any given moment even though that’s impossible and results in misery

Anyway, there’s room for everyone and their doings

(Unless we sell out, which would be nice)

Oh, so democratic

Oh, oh, it’s so democratic

I wish that were the refrain of any of the songs we work with in the show

Unfortunately that hasn’t yet been a chorus of Mariah Carey or Tina Turner, each of whom have two numbers responding to their work

I’d love it

I love them

But no, instead we have touching and privacy and rivers and heroes from them, and loneliness and dancefloors and survival from the others

Each song’s lyrics driving the way that we can be together

Most often pulling out and twisting and shaking


The threads, the gossamer-like threads, between the private and the social

Intimacies presented as public events

New friends made through disclosure and invitation, in the contexts of an evening out

Which is what this is, more than a show, or rather different, because if you just want to have a drink and a singalong that’s all alright by us

Take photos and tweet, we don’t care

It sounds easy

“Do what you want!”

But remember

We want

We want it to work how we want it to work

Of course

Which involves us being expert

I think we are expert, now

We have learned through trial and much error how to arrange matters, how to arrange materials, in order that there is a finesse to how we must offer these moments

And how we respond if you accept or reject or divert

I am fucking terrified of ‘participation’, in the way that I am terrified of attending the social bits of conferences or festivals or whatever if I don’t know definitely for sure no doubt I’m going to have a known person to stand and talk to or dance with

But here the relationship is clear

It’s like in my swing dance class (not really mine), we are the lead and you are the follow

We are engaged in a collaboration

An improvised collaboration

But we provide the form, we offer direction

And you are the virtuoso with the kicks and flicks

With the power to change shape and direction and surprise us

And we will go with you if you go with us

We will catch you

You can trust us

A Lyrical Dance Concert by Gillie Kleiman and Sara Lindstrom, performed by Gillie and Eleanor Sikorski, is on tour from 5th November 2014 to the end of February 2015. 




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