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24 February 2020
Author: The Place

Kloé Dean Q&A

In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women. The highest suicide rate is among men aged 45-49.  Globally, suicide rates have doubled among black men since 1980. What are the reasons? What can be done? In Man Up, Kloé Dean is attempting to find answers to the circumstances surrounding her own father’s suicide, through dance, poetry and song. We spoke to Kloé about the process of making a very personal work.


Your piece Man Up is raising awareness of male suicide, something you have personal experience with, and you talk very openly about. Can you tell us a bit about your own thoughts or research and what you have learned from the process of creating this show?

Kloé Dean: I think suicide is an interesting and challenging subject in a sense of trying to gain closure or an understanding of why a person decided to take their own life. Unless the person has left a note or message, you don’t really know what they went through or felt. With regards to my personal experience, I felt I was close to my Dad as a child and in my early teens, up until he split from my mum and then became extremely absent over time. Taking his own life, for me, felt like I had lost my Dad twice, in a way. So, there’s a lot of unanswered questions and thoughts of what I “think” happened or what he “could” have been going through. 

You worked on Man Up during your Choreodrome residency last summer at The Place? How did the piece develop?

KD: I started working on the idea in 2017 and have explored two versions of the piece: One being a solo and one with two other dancers. During the Choreodrome experience, I was interested in developing the piece by merging the two versions into one. It was a really interesting process and proved challenging but a great way to explore without any pressure to have a finished piece. 

TP: Can you tell us more about the movement style and the opportunities and challenges that presented for what you want to express in this piece?

KD: A huge challenge for me has been to remain disciplined in finding movement from truth and not just what may look nice. Sticking to the emotional connection of the journey and the story this piece is telling. We play with a pallet containing a range of style influences. I come from training in Hip Hop, funk and Streetdance styles. I am also inspired by contemporary dance, theatre and film. 

Is there something you learned about the male psyche that you find relatable/surprising/infuriating/ beautiful – and how can we all help men cope?

KD: That’s a hard question. I think the main thing I have learnt from this experience in my life is the importance of communication and being able to build connection between us as people. Providing space for people to be their true self and enabling them to express their feelings. I feel men, in British society anyway, have been taught to repress emotions. I do think that is slowly changing but definitely, for my Dads generation - Men don't cry! 


Man up will be in our theatre on Fri 28 Feb as part of a Double Bill with Linda Hayford's Alshe/Me




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