New Dance Magazine Collective

At the time I was researching a practical realisation of human ability for a new book I was writing for Wildwood House called 'Sense, Think, Act'. I was attending dance and bodywork classes run by the X6 Dance Collective.[1] At the time dance was being challenged by new ideas such as 'release', Contact Improvisation, gymnastics, Aikido and Tai Chi. This was not an open collective. I had a relationship with one of the members, Emilyn Claid, but I was not a member of the X6 group, which was based in a large old tea warehouse in Butlers Wharf near Tower Bridge.[2] In 1976 X6 initiated a magazine 'New Dance'. I became part of the separate open collective that produced this between the end of 1976 and 1978 (New Dance magazine went on until 1987). At the same time I took part in performances which grew out of this network such as those directed by Sally Potter and Rose English.[3]

As I looked through the early issues of New Dance I noticed that two of the reviews were of performances that used home movies and presage some of the later preoccupations of this thesis. The first, written by me, is about a performance by Mary Prestidge and the second is written by Prestidge about a performance by Sarah Green:

An acute shaft of orange sunlight. Most of the windows are blinded. A small sprawled audience watch two films, both home made. One, showing top Olympic gymnasts going through their routines, is on 16mm. The other is of Mary's gym work and is on 8mm. Both films are running together, Mary is talking about scenes from her past. She pauses frequently. She mentions her relationship with her mother." (New Dance No1 New Year 1977 p12)

The 'stars' of the film are the Green family, but we the

 audience see Sarah warmly alive in contrast to the bright projection on the back wall. Her shadowy figure moves with ease in and out of skills, but the magic and quality of the performance for me lay in the dialogue and relationship that was created between Sarah and the changing images on the screen. (New Dance No3 Summer 1977 p15) [4]

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[1] X6 consisted of Jacky Lansley, Fergus Early, Maedee Dupree, Emilyn Claid and Mary Prestidge. They had variously had previous careers in such mainstream companies as the Royal Ballet and Ballet Rambert. The main published accounts are Christie Adair, Women and Dance (Macmillan 1992), Stephanie Jordan, Striding Out: aspects of contemporary and new dance in Britain (Dance Books, London 1992).

"X6 provided a political feminist framework for the movement language of new dance, focusing particularly on radical subversive experiments in performance, and the performer as political being and subject of her own work". (Yes, No, Maybe: the practice of illusion in dance theatre performance, PhD Thesis by Emilyn Claid, University of Surrey, 1998, p59)

 

[2] I was also 'member 1396' of the London Film-Makers Coop in November 1976 but was only active as a member of the audience. According to Paul Burwell there were meetings c1977 between the London Musicians Collective, the New Dance Collective, The Fitzrovia Cultural Centre (David Medalla's squat) and the London Film Makers Coop (Resonance 8/9 No 2 p23).

 

[3] Sally Potter has become a leading film director and Rose English is also well known for her flamboyant theatrical performances.

 

[4] Sarah Green went on to be one of the leading members of the Greenham Common Women's Group.