I had the privilege of performing in not one but two performance commissions at the National Gallery in London this autumn, both part of Dance to the Music of Our Time, a live exhibition presented alongside Poussin and the Dance.
This was my second time working with Hetain Patel after filming a small part in his film Trinity earlier this year.
Baa’s Gold 10 recounts the story of the burglary of Hetain Patel’s ‘Baa’, or grandmother in Gujarati, whilst at home in Bolton where she lived alone. In a pursuit for gold, Patel’s Baa endured a violent ordeal at the hands of a gang of men who specifically targeted Hindu widows for their cultural tradition of only wearing gold jewellery. As the story is recounted multiple times in the form of a spoken screenplay by a group of performers, Baa regains her own agency, enacting revenge in the final version of the screenplay.
Patel’s performances process events from his own biography through a range of media, often recounting these stories in various ways. Patel presents his own domestic British Indian story in amongst the Western canon of art history as equally epic and fantastical, using both the traditional act of live performance, and the modern form of cinematic storytelling.
Watch the trailer for Baa’s Gold 10 here:
I was delighted to work with Florence Peake again in December to create a new work Factual Actual as part of five dancers, a mix of long-term collaborators (including myself) and new ones.
Large, exuberantly painted canvasses are folded, dragged, and suspended by five dancers, moving between flat and sculptural forms and theatrical elements of concealment and revelation. Factual Actual extends what painting can do and its relationship to movement, upending the static representation often found in museum collections through chaotic shifts and ever-changing compositions.
Factual Actual treats the canvases, painted by Florence Peake, with a joyful irreverence, extending the relationship between dance and movement. Unpicking the romantic representation of dance in classical painting and its idealised depiction of the body, Peake looks at the idea of the collapse of the canon of white Western classical painting through the literal manipulation of the large canvases as they are collapsed in form. The dancers work with the idea of collapse and use it as a metaphor to address wider concerns of institutional power structures and the ways in which we can overcome them.
Watch the trailer for Factual Actual here:
Full recordings of both performances are available to watch here: