I have spent a lot of time thinking about liveness, I think even when I wasn’t thinking about it I was thinking about it.
My body, has perhaps made me more than most before this time think about what it means to be live. What it means to be together in space, and in my case what it means to have what I refer to as an unruly body. A body that is always at risk, a body that is always at odds with the spaces it is in.
I started making film work following a racist attack which happened whilst I was on stage.
Thinking through the dangers of being live, the benefits of being behind a screen, within the audience whilst the watch your work is not a new thing for everyone. It is not a new thing for me.
Dance has never been a place where we really discuss life, we think because we use the body which is a universal tool, we some how are equal, liberal or above the politics. In fact, dance is the place where the elite get to be creative and a few of those with less access may be present by accident, exceptionalism, passing or assimilation. Dance, on the whole doesn’t ask often enough why there are so few Black, Brown, Queer, and Trans bodies visible within our form. I use the term VISABLE because we are there, gay boys playing straight men in ballet, Trans people being cast out of their gender and those who are light skinned enough to pass may make it on stage. Then there are the few of us who are present despite those things. Myself, and other dancers who I am lucky enough to call peers and sit outside of this often.
Liveness, much like everything else in life is not an equal place.
As we are somewhat abandoned by the government to figure out our cost of liveness I want to encourage you to remember, and think through the cost of liveness for yourself and others.
Whilst I know that my work and my form is one of bodies, of exploring and investigating bodies, we cannot forget that it is a practice of togetherness, sharing and feeling each other. This has cost.
We cannot move forward in this pandemic only thinking through the presence or absence of liveness. We have to be able to acknowledge that liveness in of itself is not a neutral space. Anyone who was vulnerable before to the consequences of our capitalistic, white supremacist, ableist world is now more vulnerable. And we have to think through that when we rethink liveness. The question we must answer is what is the risk of liveness. Is it worth it? How do we share those risk together, and not leave it to our most vulnerable to shoulder the burden.
If we move forward in that way, nothing will have changed.
You will have studios with the most vulnerable, afraid, in mask and those less vulnerable just happy to be back, maskless, starring and asking “is it hard to wear a mask” . This is what happened to me, and this is why I am thinking through is it worth it?
How do we work in a way that allows the most vulnerable to be present?