News: Chisenhale Dance Space celebrates The Big 30

Tuesday 10 September 2013 by Carmel Smith

Michael Clark in Charles Atlas'  'Hail the New Puritan' - filmed at Chisenhale Dance Space in 1985/6.

This Autumn Chisenhale Dance Space in Bow celebrates 30 years of boundary pushing performance, with The Big 30 – a season of performances workshops, events and talks, as well as critical discussion, improvisation, family events, classes and coffee mornings.

In 2008 the future of the venue looked decidedly uncertain when Arts Council England withdrew funding, but local authority Tower Hamlets was supportive and the organisation regrouped, finding a wide range of different funding sources – and continues to thrive as a home for exploratory, innovative work – including in recent years, the Bellyflop collective of artists.

This season marks an important milestone for Chisenhale Dance Space,” says Lead Producer Laura Sweeney. “Not only is it a chance to celebrate the influential artists who have, and will continue to pass through the space, but it is also a testament to an organisation that has been resilient through many shifts in the landscape, always remaining a home for artists. To be able to nurture and provide a home for artists who work on the fringes of dance and performance places Chisenhale in a unique position and we hope to still be here in another 30 years!”

The venue opened in 1983 and has always been a home for experimentation in dance and performance. Film maker Charles Atlas made Hail the New Puritan, his ‘mockumentary’ about the young Michael Clark there in 1985/6 and as part of the celebrations it will be screened where it was shot in the main studio (Sat 21 September), with an introduction by a founder member of Clark’s company – Ellen van Schuylenburch.

The Big 30 season launches on Thursday 19 September with a Dance Art Foundation workshop led by Louise Klarnett, followed in the evening by Cake – a launch party performance from Eleanor Sikorski (invitation only).

A diveres and action-packed programme takes place in the following weeks. Highlights include Dance and the Homemade a triple bill from Will Dickie, Lisa May Thomas and Dan Watson on Thursday 26 September; a Community Day (Sun 29 Sep) features The Flying Project, a family-friendly workshop and performance with Emelie Wångstedt and Helena Webb, plus dance films, chat and an ‘80s teatime disco; Dance + Politics: Performance & Discussion comes courtesy of dancers and activists Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamila Johnson-Small on Saturday October 5 with O – A duet about being black, mixed and female – a discussion on Feminism and Dance – have things improved?, chaired by Jacky Lansley with guest speakers follows.

Jacky Lansley was one of the members of X6, the seminal artist collective who started Chisenhale Dance Space, pioneering the British New Dance movement. On 20 October, she’ll join Fergus Early, Mary Prestidge and Emilyn Claid in Now & Then – X6 & Friends – a round table discussion discuss topics relevant to arts and politics, now and then.

On 31 October, there’s another Dance and the Homemade triple bill with new work from Neil Callaghan, Rachel Champion and Tim Spooner.

On Saturday 9 November, Mary Prestidge presents Disturbing The Dust (3pm), followed by An Archive Performance from Jacky Lansley & Fergus Early (7pm).

There are more family activities on Saturday 16 November 16 with Kids Class Day and the Bellyflop team round off The Big 30 events on 23 November with Cue Positions – a symposium.

Luke Pell, current Chair of Chisenhale’s board extends the invitation to join the celebrations at one of London’s vital spaces for dance: “We would love for you to join us as we celebrate the work of an incredible, influential community of artists, practitioners, professionals – people – who over the years, today and tomorrow will have called Chisenhale home.”

Photo: Michael Clark in Charles Atlas’ ‘Hail the New Puritan’ – filmed at Chisenhale Dance Space in 1985/6.

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