This is an excerpt from a series of interviews from February 2018, presented in partnership with ICDF’s Network for Men in Dance.
Liam Scarth (UK)
Interviewer: I think you would say that you want the projects and creativity you are involved in to make a difference. What difference does it make to the quality of life for people in the neighbourhoods you work in when they get involved in arts projects?
People need a creative outlet to express themselves. We as humans hold everything inside, and that holding on can become our ‘demons’ of depression, anxiety, social anxiety, addictions etc.
By creating art in neighbourhoods there’s a profound amount of connection that happens. Together you’re taking back ownership of that neighbourhood, and it dissipates the fear of ‘the other’ taking over.
That’s ironic, because you come in from outside and facilitate that happening by helping people own local identity and be proud of it!
Is there a way of using art, dance and theatre to tell the story of a place, its history, and even characteristics of life lived there now?
Yes. I think it’s the only way – because the ‘black and white’ of information doesn’t capture the imagination.
When I was at university we went to Barter Shoes in Tilbury for a site-specific show, and we interviewed people who’d worked at the factory, then tried to recreate those characters, and for one day bring the community-that-used-to-be back alive, although the factory was now closed. And it does, it works.
Yes, it dignifies the reminiscence process. I remember a show by Eternia Dance Theatre from Sweden called ‘We want to live’, about the experiences of jews under Nazi occupation. It brought alive the experience for those who hadn’t lived it, not just for anyone who still remembered the events.
In a way, when you speak someone’s name they are brought back from the dead into this reality. When you form a story, from real-life events you bring the spirit of that event out of the shadows and it can become visible.
It’s the whole addage of ‘Lest we forget’.
That’s why it’s called RE-MEMBERING, like bones coming together and being re-animated. It’s the valley of dry bones, or the army of the dead in ‘Lord of the Rings’…
Is there a dance in everyone just waiting to get out?
Yes, there is a dance waiting to come out. I think it’s important that we actually express that – we have to. We are creative beings, craving expression, and dance is one of the most primal expressions (alongside singing and story-telling).
It’s been that way since the birth of humanity, and why should it stop now? Why should it be only for ‘the artist’?
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.)