This is an excerpt from a series of interviews from February 2018, presented in partnership with ICDF’s Network for Men in Dance.
Harry Kingham (UK)
Interviewer: Do you feel that men instinctively move differently from women? Is there a distinctly different male energy and physicality?
My gut response is, ‘Yes’, but it’s hard for me to describe for you or put my finger on what it is. Masculine presence is different, possibly more so when guys are being authentic – yes, it’s a different energy. Authentic can mean attempting to take off the masks that we wear in everyday life.
You’re all about authenticity, yet one of your crucial tools and skill-sets is the physical use of masks. How does that work?
At a very simple level, dressing-up things or props enable people’s inhibitions to fall away. Kids behave differently, but so do adults, as if given a license to play. The use of masks helps people shed inhibitions, too, maybe to recognise and get rid of the masks they wear at other times. But wearing a physical mask which is fixed in its expression or non-expression means that everything else has to be said in the body. It’s difficult to do well, but that’s what brings the mask’s character alive, and can even at times give the illusion of the facial expression changing.
As a practitioner and performer, do you see your role in the multi-cultural area where you live as that of prophet? or conciliator? community-builder?
In the run-up to a community parade, we’ve held workshops that are open to all. We choose to share food together in between the making and rehearsing. The goal for community is not homogenous, but the celebration of diversity, respect, appreciation and relationship. It’s very hands-on. The more we can stay in one place the more established the effects can be, and trust is built slowly. Creativity and food create visible response!!
Men in Dance Network
Any man interested in dance can just go on Facebook, type in ‘Men in Dance Network’, and ask to join the group.
(If there are women who have questions, or are looking for pointers about working alongside men as dancers, we’ll be trying to build up suggestions and resources for that also, as Frequently Asked Questions. So address any enquiries to Andy Raine.)