Considering The Dance

Until recently, I didn't really consider myself a dancer. I like dancing. I've done some, but it doesn't always feel comfortable. I have a sense of seeing myself dancing, from afar and it looks awkward. It usually happens amongst a group of people. Strangers. In time, or not, with the music. And it feels like a performance. An awkward performance.

But I like to perform. I don't mind people watching me. But I don't like people watching me dance.

I like to walk. I feel comfortable walking. Mostly I can't see myself when I walk. But even when I do catch sight of myself, my gait, in a passing shop window, I don't mind. It feels ok. I don't mind people watching me. I like people watching me walk.

But I've started to think about the walk and the dance. Like the nightclub dance, the city walk happens amongst a group of people. Strangers. In time, or not, with the music - the city's hum and jarring beats. And it feels like a performance. It happens a lot that you look up or across and catch someone's eye. Directly. Were they watching me? Were they watching me walk? I don't mind. I feel good walking, It feels ok.

The walks I've been performing recently are about the everyday.
And then there are the everyday walks.
Up and down the stairs.
To the shop.
To work.
To the kitchen, from the office to put the kettle on.
Repetitive actions.

I'm dancing.
I'm repeating actions like I might on a dancefloor.
I'm dancing in time, or not, to the rhythms of my thoughts.
I'm dancing, in time, or not, to the rhythms of my surroundings.

It happens,  I'm sure to everyone, that as you're walking along you realise that another walker, coming towards you is treading the same line and you move to the left to avoid collision. But so do they. So you move to the right. And so do they. This is a street dance. With a partner. It can last for minute-long seconds, ending only with an embarrassed parting.

Today I danced with an office desk.  It was a big heavy desk, too heavy to carry. So I walked it from my van to the Gallery. I walked it, swinging it as I went, swivelling on alternate corners.  It was a street dance. It was a rhythmical dance. With a partner.

And I've realised I do all sorts of small dances, everyday, everyday dances. Looking for my keys, in the same places, checking and rechecking. Returning to my house upon leaving to check that everything is switched off, one, two three times or more - sometimes when I'm a mile away. Absentmindedly moving from foot to foot while I'm daydream-smoking on the Gallery doorstep.

This is still a bit sketchy in my thinking at the moment, but I hope to get the chance to tease it out a bit further this week, when I document some dancing / walking / movement work by Alison lloyd in her pre-exhibition work at Priimary.


Walking The Middle Way - a ring road walk

This Saturday, I will be leading a group walk around Birmingham's inner city ring road, as part of ben Waddington's Still Walking Festival. Still Walking has been guiding walkers around the city since 2008, offering a different perspective for the walker than the usual sightseeing, but also helping to enhance the touring skills of practitioners across the cultural spectrum.

I was pleased to be asked to take part in Still Walking - most of my walking is a solitary affair, and generally a mechanism or tool for making broader work. They are often exploratory in nature and act as instigators for creative thought.

I have been walking ring roads for a while, and they have been the subject of some previous works, so it is interesting to broaden out that idea into an area I haven't taken it before - namely accompanied walking.

Birmingham's ring road is about 9 miles in circumference - and is made up of a series of roundabouts and intersections / crossroads, which naturally split the route. This formation informed an idea I had about the structure of the walk. The thinking is that I am the only one to walk the full circumference, and am joined at designated stages throughout the walk by a series of walking collaborators, who will collectively act as my walking companion. No-one should be allowed to walk more than one stage with me. At the end of the walk, I will put together a composite of each of the walkers experiences and reflections into one - looking at what we saw, talked about and remembered.

This is an experiment in walking with other people, with an added pressure that they are paying to walk with me. It will be interesting to see and gauge their reactions to walking with a non-expert in terms of local knowledge, and whether they will enjoy its conversational and ambulent focus.


hermetically sealed - a continuation

i like to walk in circles | i like to end where i start | yesterday, i went for a walk | a circular walk | during the walk i wrapped, and unwrapped an 8 foot cube frame in red and white hazard tape | it took just over two 500 metre rolls of hazard tape to fully wrap the cube frame | during the wrapping, i walked for approximately 2,200 metres, or 1.367 miles | i ended up where i started | i like to walk in circles