I am reflecting on my time at LCDS – I graduated in the Summer of 2019 with a bunch of pals for life after three years of dancing, laughing, procrastinating, crying (a lot), chatting, and caffeine consumption. On the day of my Leaving Ceremony in July 2019, I was unbelievably grateful for the three years at LCDS (and still in shock I had managed to get into the programme, let alone get through the whole thing), but I was definitely ‘danced out’. I didn’t really want to think about dance for a long while. I think I had maxed out before we arrived at the Leaving Ceremony to be honest. My friends have a joke that for the last few terms at LCDS, they never really saw me; I would make a kerfuffle around the corridors in a mini-skirt and a big file, always faffing around with papers, talking about some meeting or another.
They’re not wrong. I realise now that I had found what I wanted to do, and that wasn’t necessarily contemporary dance (although for any potential employers reading this, I am available for all queer/ feminist/ anti-capitalism work – DM for my CV). What I wanted to do was organise and mobilise around sociological and political ideas. This is of course possible within the dance world, and my time at LCDS gave me a space and platform to discover this. It has framed my desires for the future and the work I am doing at the moment.
During my first year at LCDS, Izzy Ripley started the LCDS Feminist Society (Fem Soc). When Izzy departed from the school, we took the opportunity to carry on creating a space for feminist discussion, debate, learning and unlearning. Some wonderful staff members at LCDS gave us the generosity of time, support and space. This enlivened something within me; there were other possibilities for things to happen in this space. With further work in Fem Soc, we expanded the vision of what was possible, inviting guests, fundraising, holding discussions with artists, students, and political parties. LCDS Fem Soc has a life of its own now - it is a living, breathing thing, which has shifted, grown, adapted to the time, and what is possible. It’s a testament to the value of creating communities and spaces.
Through the Feminist Society and the support from some staff members, I had felt the possibility of what could happen outside of the degree programme. We ran with this opportunity – I collaborated with my friends and colleagues to organise a termly feminist zine - a self-published magazine, often with political/artistic/sociological sentiments, we organised a drag show (which COVID permitting is going to be happening again soon), Evie Webzell and I organised a Third Year Solo Day Show, we held scratch nights to raise funds for local organisations. All of these things were outside of the rather rigorous timetable of LCDS life, and yet they were possible, and the desire to make them happen made them possible.
It has been 15 months since my graduation from LCDS, and I am now completing an MA in Gender, Media and Culture at Goldsmiths University, particularly focussing on queer and anti-colonial perspectives on sexual violence. I am also working in a service providing Support Work and Advocacy to womxn experiencing street based violence, homelessness, and sexual exploitation.
I want to end on an uplifting note about the possibilities of organising and social/ political/ artistic action, and yet we find ourselves in a particularly difficult time, where inequality and social injustice is exacerbated for so many. We are having to reconfigure how we can come together in solidarity, in community to make our work, to organise against power structures, to mobilise socially. This time, for those advantaged by forementioned inequalities, can be used as a tool for radical reflection; What is important now? What is possible for me to do with my resources? How can I do these things while caring for myself and others? How will I continue this work without burn-out? How I will I care for local and shared communities? How do I feel? How do we feel? What do we feel? Sad, joyful, overwhelmed, frustrated, hopeful, helpless? How can we join together in shared feelings and care for each other?
When leaving LCDS, I was fearful of what organising was possible without the support of staff, of the building, of the massive privileges that come with being part of LCDS and The Place. However, I can now say that these years and resources gave me the tools to go on and organise, make work, mobilise. When the art, the political, the community is important to you, we have the tools to refuse to be immobilised, de-activated, extracted from.
Images by Lauren Waller