Originally posted by Patate Bollenti. Read the full interview here.
How did you become interested in dance? And what is it about dance that keeps passionate about your practice?
I loved the feeling of dancing around as a small child, so like most people that got me started. I still love that feeling but sometimes it doesn’t seem enough. Dancing can feel too painful, too insubstantial and if you blink, you’ve missed it and it’s gone. I like that in Buddhist thought these three features, un-satisfactoriness or suffering; insubstantiality and impermanence are the bare facts of existence. Apparently we can only hope to understand or be with existence if we comprehend these three facts, not logically but through lived experience. Obviously we can try to accept these three ideas our life long whatever we do, but making a life in dance gives you really intense exposure to such difficult but potentially liberating truths.
Tell us about your work The Forecast. The connection made between life and forecasting is fascinating. Although we can make predictions (and everyone loves making predictions sometimes to an obsessive degree), we can never be sure what tomorrow will actually look like. Where does this idea come from, how did the piece develop and what should we expect?
So I was thinking about how identify, body, sexuality and gender, people are always in flux. I was thinking how difficult it can be to accept and work with that. Our very human need to know, to put down solid makers in the face of chaos, to predict, convince, to name are useful and yet ridiculous. I was also wanting to work with personal material around this and find ways to open it and make it relatable to people who did not share my experience. I approached composer and musician Jamie McCarthy and visual artist and dramaturg Hetain Patel to work on the project with me with a view to, amongst other things, finding larger metaphors for all of this. For many years Jamie has been working with long durational drone structures which often take inspiration from cloud movement and the weather systems and when Hetain then proposed some studio tasks to me including one which connected a TV weather forecast and gender, something clicked and I knew quite quickly this was a direction I wanted to take. I love that struggling with the unpredictability of the weather is something that we can all relate to on a very concrete level and I thought it was a lovely way into thinking about our internal, bodily or psychological gender weather. As for what you can expect from the finished piece, I think its a pretty goofy, personal but hopefully poetic piece. I hope to share the absurdity and humanity of trying to ride the storms of gender and sexuality as they play out across the body, but you’ll have to decide for yourself what you make of it of course.
How did your collaboration with The Place come about and what is it like working with their team?
I’ve been connected to The Place since I trained in the building at London Contemporary Dance School. Since then they have consistently taken an interest in and supported my work at various stages and worked with me in different capacities. So collaborating more fully on The Forecast and on Splayed feels in some ways very organic. I have recently formalised this relationship a little bit more by joining Work Place, The Place’s artist development programme. The relationship also sits well with other partnerships and collaborations I have elsewhere.
We are very excited to see Splayed, the festival exploring disruptive femininity taking place at The Place in June 2018. What are you hoping to achieve with the festival? What are the goals, expectations and perhaps also the risks? How will it be structured?
I am also excited about Splayed! You can expect a week of subversive and super engaging work and events! The festival is geared towards disrupting conventional notions of femininity through experimental movement, performances, discussions, a free zine. With this project I wanted to address the fact that there is amazing work going on at the moment rocking what we think we know about desire, identity, power, violence, gender binaries and embodiment. Having these works rub up against each other in a relatively mainstream dance context will hopefully set some sparks flying. I hope that there might be a wider debate about dismantling the norms of physical expression and a celebration of the range and richness of individual experience.
Amy Bell is a dance artist whose work embraces performing, making, teaching, writing, dramaturgy and curation. Her theatre solo The Forecast takes an ironic look at identity in flux and her installation piece TOMBO(Y)LA investigates unruly gender embodiments. Amy’s performance work comprises theatrical, installation and site-sensitive projects for a range of artists in the UK and Italy, including Tino Sehgal, Lea Anderson, Maresa von Stockert, Alessandro Sciarroni and Chiara Frigo. She has curated experimental events for Rambert and Yorkshire Dance and will present Splayed, a festival of disruptive femininities at The Place in June 2018. Amy is a Work Place Artist at The Place.