What an amazing International Women’s Day we had on 8th March!

Many thanks to everyone who came along to our Witness, Support, Discuss- Feminist Dance Making. What a fabulously rich discussion was had. Thank you to Artists Jessica Lerner and Eef Bonnet for sharing their work and to Cardiff MADE for having us! This post is a collection of thoughts and ideas from those who attended the discussion event, summarised and collated during the event by Fern Wilson.

The evening began with a powerful performance by Eef Bonnet about domestic violence.

Many questions came about from Eef such as:

“What is Dance?”

“How did you feel at the very end of the performance?”

Supported by Zosia Jo used the Liz Lerman feedback technique – which enabled Eef to ask the questions she wanted. It was great to see everyone engage and feedback.

Audience members took to concluding a final point that “Communication is key – If you can communicate with your audience, expressing yourself through movement and you clearly define your story – It doesn’t matter if it looks ‘pretty, or elegant’”  

The performances captured a sad truth about abuse in relationships – people convince themselves it won’t happen again and yet we can get stuck in a toxic cycle. The narrative was cyclical – repeating motifs – highlighting the pattern of abusive relationships. This was heavily depicted by the ongoing lyrics ‘Hanging on’ by Bel Blue.

Jessica Lerner brought to light many questions concerning public vs private space during her performance.

What connection do people have to their own habitats and does this change your body, mind, relationships etc when they’re in a public space?

“In the private space (upstairs) we could tune into our own sensations but having this projected downstairs meant they had an intimate space shown to the public”

So what about public vs private in feminist dance making?

“There is a history of feminist performance arts and a constant theme of public vs private, it became out of fashion but its is now coming back.”

“It’s important to be in a gallery doing dance. Language comes from the visual arts and dance gives me licence to be more visual and be acceptable so that I can fully engage with my movement vocabulary, which comes from sensation led movement.”

“I’m really interested in how body and mind centred movement coexists with ideas of femininity and the outside image of this.”

“I became aware of the woman’s body and how this made me think of my mother. Being so close to the performance and sharing that space with other people strongly evoked a motherly feeling.”

The evening ended with a final discussion from the Groundwork Pro Team.

Conversations began discussing how we can re-acknowlege our gender through movement and what is feminist dance making?

“The art form that I love is heavily rooted in patriarchy, through training my body and physical patterns have formed accordingly, how now do I go back to the studio and challenge what’s inside of me?”

Does this female led approach become more acceptable in a gallery type environment?

One thing that could be supported is when you take dance out of the dance studio as this provides a different energy. That feeling you have in a room with a ballet bar and large mirror can make you feel self aware. There’s room to be in it through our feminist energy but it is more supportive to be in a space like Cardiff M.A.D.E.

“It is important to use transformative spaces like Cardiff M.A.D.E where you can make anything happen.”

“It is a challenging space to work with but it’s amazing to see people get excited to come in knowing work is going on.”

“There is something in female driven work that is somehow not valued in a monetary sense. Programmers will say ‘We can’t sell that, it doesn’t have a dominant aesthetic’”

“We can positively tell feminist stories and take these works about domestic violence to programmers who tell us ‘We can’t sell that’”

How do we change what we value? We don’t value women’s work enough or simply value softer energy.

Do we need to re-acknowledge our sexuality or even reclaim it?

Part of me wants to say “lets embrace it as a means to communicate what we want to communicate, but I also don’t want to have to present my body to fight against the patriarchy.”

We want to thank our incredible audience for engaging and discussing your thoughts with us on Friday. You helped us bring to light an ongoing discussion that we will continue to acknowledge and communicate through dance.

Thank you for your voice and thank you for supporting our artists.

Keep an eye out on our Groundhub page and join us for more wonderful events.