Our Dance Democracy 2: Presenters Abstracts

Full abstracts will be available to all delegates prior to the event but here is just a sample of what will be delivered and discussed.

Day Two 12th February 2021

Film: RED, Liz Lea

RED is fearless, RED is fierce, RED is powerful – a one woman show full of film and fabulousness. RED explores Liz Lea’s journey and experiences with Endometriosis. She has been living with the disease for 20 years while creating and touring her work internationally. This is a film from the performance in lockdown, performed in an empty theatre.

Creative team:
Choreographers: Vicki van Hout, Virginia Ferris, Martin del Amo
Dramaturg / Mentor: Brian Lucas
Composer of original score: Alexander Hunter
Cinematographer: Nino Tamburri
Film Editor: Arianna Bosi
Script writers: Liz Lea, Brian Lucas, Victoria Lea
Lighting Designer: Karen Norris
Rehearsal Director and Dramaturgy: Natalie Ayton
Technical Manager: Craig Dear
Costumes design: Liz Lea, Brian Lucas, Bruce Scott and Brooke Giles
Costume Consultant: Cate Clelland
Publicity Designer: Andrea McCuaig
Publicist: Emma Dykes


Alexandrina Hemsley: Retrieving Inner Dances: Making A Way Back To Intimacy

The world is burning up and we are burning out. I will draw on autobiographical experiences of vanishings, disembodiment, a loss of (spiritual) voice, mental health and injury and map how the racist, sexist and abelist environments of contemporary dance reinforce a sense of lacking.

Democratising spaces requires us to sit with complexity and multiple perspectives with compassion and empathy. In the environment, words and texture I will work towards in this talk.


Dance in Pandemic

In conversation: The Body and Pandemic, Liz Lea, Tammi Gissell and Hanna Cormick

Drawing on 70 years of combined arts practice working across Australia and the world these leading artists discuss how boundaries and displacement have impacted their lives and practice. The talk will draw on lived experience of disability, chronic illness, displacement giving rise to creativity.


Process and Reflection

Patricia Carolin Mai – KONTROL

KONTROL is for all people who are enthusiastic about dance, performance, visual arts and extreme Sports and who deal with gender justice and the right to free self-determination. The short lecture will reflect about my process and work about KONTROL with photos and explanations. The video shows my process of androgynisation.


Yinka Graves – The Disappearing Act

The Disappearing Act is a solo exploration of the ways in which Black women articulate their resistances to negation. Yinka is particularly interested in methods of camouflage and mimicry that insidiously seep into the intimate realm. Asking what the real cost of being viable is in a system that has only ever seeked to exploit or at best commodify you.


melissandre varin- Practice of resistance process of mothering

*This presentation is to be experienced with a bowl of flour nearby.*

This paper explores how a home-based autoethnographic multifaceted performance with one’s child exceeds dominant White European notions of working from home and staying at home in times of global pandemic. To plant the seeds of this argument i will be articulating words and sharing an audio-visual assemblage: of flour and Earth 1/3, a performance with and for Eole (15mo), camera and all of us.

of flour and Earth 1/3 interrogates white maintenance arts in relation to unregulated and fluid Black intimacy and parenting. In this provokation i share personal testimonies, and express from a place of transitional gratitude supported by the work of Alice Walker, bell hooks, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Saidiya Hartman. Extending gratitude to frame and reframe improvised everyday performances with Eole as i queer parent them.

i argue that actively looking for ways to hold difficult intergenerational conversations at home and beyond is essential work right now. With this account of home working with a baby, i am attempting to shift, re-member, and redirect artistic and academic activism to my immediate communities as an expansive and healing gesture towards archiving and imagining beyond white scripts.



Dylan Quinn: Evolution or Revolution

We have a choice to make. To enact the change our society requires or to wait until the situation becomes so unbearable for so many we are forced to act.

The “normal” that we wish to return too, as a result of the abnormal context of 2020 was not a normal that was acceptable to everyone… or indeed the majority. The voices of those unheard for too long may have got louder over the last few years however the change that is required is moving too slowly for a world that is changing rapidly. We must understand the various change maker roles we can hold and how we can be at the forefront of holding decision makers to account. Returning to the “normal” off before is tantamount to returning to straighten the deck chairs on the titanic just as the iceberg hits. #Fnormal


Community and Networks

Dr Laura Griffiths & Emily Snow : Communities of Dance Practice within the city of Leeds: How the work of Leeds Dance Partnership reimagines modes of city-wide dance activities and infrastructure.

​This presentation considers the ways in which the work of Leeds Dance Partnership (www.leedsdancepartnership.com LDP) illustrates new models of working between artists and institutions within the context of the city. Leeds Dance Partnership is a consortium of six Leeds dance organisations, funded by ACE (Ambition for Excellence) with a central purpose to grow and develop dance in Leeds and the wider North. This is achieved through the delivery of a range of initiatives, projects and commissions which have seen new modes of collaboration emerge within the city.


Sarah Shead: Building a democratic community in an era of ‘chumocracy’.

A workforce built on chumocracy. The defining feature of a chumocracy is that those in positions of power and influence give jobs or opportunities to others like themselves, often their friends or know one another socially. A further defining feature is that those in the best position to change the system are often unable to see the problem and are most likely to think they got there simply through talent and hard work.

So, in a time when chumocracy is on the rise, when our leaders seem to be disconnected from the very problems they are trying to fix, where can we look for inspiration? The Golden Age Pirates!


Dance in Pandemic

Shelley Owen and Josh Slater: Making Space for Action and Thought

This collaborative performance paper is an examination into knowledge sharing between self-organising independent dance artists at a time of precarity. Drawing upon an ongoing collaboration between Shelley Owen and Josh Slater, it reflects on the project as a method to unpick and explore the wider notions of action through collective endeavour. Responding to a lack of training pathways for professional artists, Owen and Slater devised a series of encounters within the North West and South West of England in which independent dance artists and choreographers could access a focused environment for training and development.


Workshop/Seminar : Dancing Communities

Rosemary Kostic Cisneros, Charlie Ingram and Karen Wood: Ethics and Equity in Dance and Theatre Practice Research

The necessity to engage in a dialogue around the issues of Ethics and Equity in Dance and Theatre have been identified in the field of artistic practice and in the academic sector of Practice Research (PR). This workshop/seminar is directed to postgraduate researchers (PGRs), artists and early career researchers (ECRs).


Dance and Identity

Patricia Noxolo In/security in relation to Jamaican dancehall.

Drawing on her experience with the CARISCC network, rather than as a dancehall practitioner or researcher, Dr Noxolo offers a critical review of the work of some of the key theorists of Jamaican dancehall – Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Carolyn Cooper, Donna Hope and Julian Henriques.


Lesley Pruitt, and Erica Rose Jeffrey: Front and Centre – Embodied Youth Voices

The past 18 months have seen a dramatic increase in the visibility of dance as implicated in politics and peacebuilding. Across a range of issues, politicians, healthcare workers and protestors are using dance as a means of expression and an embodied voice. In this swell of performativity, young people are front and centre, active in their use of dance connected to social change and including key examples of young women stepping into leadership roles. We will examine youth leadership and local and global connections as seen in the light of recent political activations of dance and building on our previous research on dance, young people and peacebuilding.


Dance in Pandemic

Connor Elliman: Making Dances in a Pandemic

This paper discusses the process of making a solo work – exploring body and space – which was performed in an online platform Latitude. Further contemplating the choreographic aesthetics of dancing at home, and the effects of COVID-19 on an independent artists life.


Dr. Sarah Black-Frizell: Domestic Spaces, arts making during a pandemic

Domestic Spaces is a panel of national and international artists and scholars chaired by Dr Sarah Black-Frizell. This panel offers perspectives and exchange on the ways artists and academics have adapted and developed their existing arts making practice and research methodologies during Covid-19 and ensuing Global Lockdowns. The panel members are contributing to a larger project – Domestic Spaces which will become a series of edited interviews.


Dance and Feminism

Josephine Leask : In pursuit of liberation – New Dance Magazine, Spare Rib and the embodiment of second wave feminism.

In this paper I acknowledge the influence of feminist print culture on New Dance Magazine’s development of second wave thinking. I question how both embodied the personal is political and nurtured spaces for non-hierarchical writing modes in a comparative study with Spare Rib, engaging with close reading and thematic analysis to identify points of over-lap as well as disconnect between the two magazines. Exploring a selection of articles, reviews and letters of correspondence from the early phases of each magazine, 1975 – 1983, I argue how SR’s affective writing and personal testimony nurtured solidarity with women while NDM’s writing from the body added dance to conversations about feminism.


Sarah Houston: #PoleFitnessOver40AndProud: the slippery morality of pole work

Performative Conversation. Pole dance has had a murky history as an “exotic” form. Female, nearly naked bodies gyrating around poles have been a popular part of the sex industry since the 1950s. Yet it evolves from a longer tradition of the circus and is now taken on by the leisure industry as a form of fitness.

Our performative conversation plays around with the fixed notions of pole’s exotic and morally blanched inheritance as well as engaging in the materiality of the pole itself as a point of contact between two entities. We discuss whether these experiences can make slippery the rigid conceptualisations of the form and question how the practice might emancipate the older woman from a desexualised status or ‘effortless’ sexuality. In beginning this conversation, we aim to highlight hidden dancers and a marginalised form.


Closing Act

Raconteur 2 Wendy Houstoun rounds up the highlights of the day.