This month has been more home based than most of the rest of the year. Re-grouping following the Dance Umbrella stint in London and doing some groundwork for new initiatives. At this point it’s hard to know what will take flight and what will never quite become visible. The precious hours of daylight continue shrinking and mostly I find that I want to curl up and knit…or something…
I realised that I had been missing dancing, and living in the countryside, it’s not possible to walk out the door and straight into a class…but there is always the village hall, so perhaps I should try that. Anyway, I had the pleasure of joining Robbie Synge’s Material Matters workshop at Independent Dance a couple of weeks ago. Robbie’s home is far more isolated than mine, in the Highlands of Scotland, so really I should be able to find a way through this in East Sussex. It was wonderful to have the space to explore my own physical practice alongside peers. I was reminded (yet again) that working ‘in conversation’ is good for me. But not any conversation. I’m rubbish at idle chat. It’s the same when I’m dancing. I easily lose interest if the connection with those that I’m moving alongside doesn’t feel fruitful. Luckily on this occasion it did, and I came away full of nourishment and a body that was so glad I’d dragged it to London on a Saturday in the tipping rain.
I want to keep working through the winter (and not just admin), although we are in-between project funding, which means there isn’t really money to pay anyone. I can manage with not paying myself, but I can’t manage not paying other people. So there I am: acknowledging that I work best in conversation, determined to work, to make new work, to dance more, but without the finance to bring in those others. I don’t think I’m unusual – many (dance) artists face the same dilemmas. There are so many of us independent artists, each on our little isolated islands. Perhaps it’s suits some people. I get the impression that it suits Robbie (but maybe I’m wrong – our perception of how other people are operating is quite wonky a lot of the time. The likes of facebook don’t help much with that). But I also know that for many people, working alone for long periods of time, is far from ideal. Finding ways to come together, to exchange and support is, for me at least essential and generative. It extends my thinking; stretching, questioning, confirming. It keeps me sane. It makes me want to get back to work.
Today, despite the rain, I was decided I would spend much of the day walking. A body in motion. In fairly constant motion. My thoughts cluttered and emptied and cleared and cluttered and emptied. I enjoyed the rhythm of my walking. I enjoyed being alone and not talking. Briefly in one stint of particularly heavy rain I wondered why I’d decided this was a good idea. But then the cloud lifted a little, and a soft blue light opened. Colours became more vibrant. I found that I was singing, my legs kept their regular swinging beat and my arms had begun to dance. Really to dance. It just happened. Spontaneously. From nowhere. No, from the 3 hours of walking that had come before and allowed my body to take flight. I returned muddy and wet and hungry, but fresh faced and wide eyed from the cool winter air. Whatever the weather, get walking.