By Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie
Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie, identified jointly as Divas Dance Theatre, are well known for his or her hugely visible, interdisciplinary brand of dance functionality that comes with parts of theatre, movie, opera, poetry and vaudevillian humour. Anarchic Dance, such as a publication and DVD-Rom, is a visible and textual checklist in their boundary-shattering functionality work. The DVD-Rom features extracts from Aggiss and Cowie's paintings, together with the highly-acclaimed dance film Motion keep watch over (premiered on BBC2 in 2002), rare video pictures of their punk-comic live performances because the Wild Wigglers and reconstructions of Aggiss's solo functionality in Grotesque Dancer. These films are cross-referenced within the book, allowing readers to compare functionality and observation as Aggiss and Cowie invite a large diversity of writers to check their concert and dance reveal perform via research, conception, dialogue and personal response. broadly illustrated with black and white and color pictures Anarchic Dance, presents a entire research into Cowie and Aggiss’s collaborative partnership and demonstrates more than a few interesting techniques during which dance functionality should be engaged seriously.
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A photograph of Valeska Gert’s Clown (1930) comes to mind, hand and leg extended while her unforgettable face stares into the lens. The photograph gives the impression of a marionette clown, a Pierrot ﬁgure out of the arsenal of street puppet theatres. More stretches are carried out. Every slowly developed movement ends in a frozen position as though inspired by a photograph that is brieﬂy animated and then dies down again. Together they produce a series of motions ending in stillness, again comparable to a series of photographs.
In Falling Apart at the Seams, Aggiss’s text about losing parts of her body in shops and on park benches is spoken in a pool of light, while her legs appear to go one way, her arms the other. Meanwhile, in a parallel spotlight, Itami sings a classical aria, ‘La Mia giunture’. We watch her take the breath she needs to get to certain notes, hands clasped to the heart, adding another layer to what Aggiss has just spoken, creating in her stillness and with the force of her voice an atmosphere of controlled panic.
And she questioned what the stage was about. Valeska Gert, who was Jewish, left Nazi Germany for Paris; from there she sailed to the United States. In late December 1938 she arrived in New York. But in the modern dance world of the United States there was no place for her. She remained less than marginal, because she had lost the society that had provided her with a basis for her critique, with reasons to attack it. The New World ignored her. As one of hundreds of thousands of refugees she had to survive, somehow.