Interview: Kiki Gale, East London Dance [BDE 2012]

Friday 27 January 2012

Kiki Gale.
Photo: Lise Smith

Kiki Gale is Artistic Director of East London Dance, the dance development organisation for east London, based in Stratford – and now with the Olympic Park on the doorstep of its home, Stratford Circus. Kiki’s team work in the local community and with professional artists at all scales…

“At the heart of our work are artists and communities – people and place. Our constituency is from babies up and our oldest member is 98, so we’re really for everyone aged 0-100! There are over 120 language communities in this part of London – what if all those were danced? We have the world at our doorstep and Stratford is at the heart of the biggest urban regeneration project of our time. Between now and 2020, the population is expected to grow exponentially as new developments and neighbourhoods spring up across the town centre and the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. All this makes it an exceptionally exciting, fast changing, place to work.

One of our aims is to reveal and support local artists as well as bringing the best national and international artists to this part of London, and artists such as Tony Adigun and Alesandra Seutin – both ELD associates – are ones to watch. We’re really excited that Tony is bringing The Bunker Thing to Greenwich basement for BDE and that Alesandra’s work is featured in the BDE cabaret.

“London is such a big city, there is the scope to take fantastic dance or develop inspiring projects in unusual spaces. We’re committed to getting dance into all areas – from outer Zone 6 as well as Central London! It’s also how we go beyond what the infrastructure can and can’t offer and look at placing work in the heart of communities – a park or community space of some kind, and how that can inspire and build new, different audiences for dance. I’m delighted we’re working with Caroline Bowditch on her Unlimited commission* this summer, taking her quite conceptual work into an outdoor setting in East London.

For BDE we’ve got both performance and installations and we are also tucking an installation of Nic Sandiland’s ( Orbital ) into the Theatre Royal Stratford East next door. We have both the opportunity and the challenge to be ambitious for dance in this part of London.

“London is well-placed to offer dance in all sorts of unexpected spaces, in terms of the architecture and the range of different spaces the city can offer. I’d say to visitors go local. There is really interesting and exciting work beyond Zone 1, so get on the train and just go to the end of the line! We have some wonderful parks, lots of green space, and in east London hidden gems such as Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (nearest tube stop Mile End ). And I think rivers are always very exciting, taking a trip down the Thames gives you such a completely different view of the city.

“On our doorstep in Stratford I’d suggest The View Tube – a social enterprise and community venue located on The Greenway adjacent to the Olympic Park: fantastic views of the whole 2012 Olympic enterprise in this part of London, with a fab café. Further east there is Eastbury Manor House , a grade 1 listed building in Barking (nearest tube stop Upney ), a magnificent Tudor survival; the house was originally in an isolated position and is now in one of the largest public housing estates in the country.

  • Unlimited is the ground-breaking programme that celebrates arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists on an unprecedented scale for the Cultural Olympiad.

Interview & photo: Lise Smith

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