193 days to leave Regent studios

The problem with blogging rather than journalling is the greater possibility that someone might see what you wrote. The problem with the modern world is that i am becoming more comfortable with writing on a computer than a Journal. Theoretically I could just write in word and layout in photoshop and keep it all as secret as my journal, but the format of the blog I find very appealing and so it’s hard not to prefer to blog rather than journal (unless I’m drawing which is still more appealing the old lead and ink ways). The problem with this is a reticence to kvetch unless my personal issues feel like they might coincide with issues of more universal import. i.e not just about my own “stuff”.. But where does our individual issues and universal ones begin and end? I saw an interesting lecture/ performance by the remarkable Dr. Charlotte Cooper

How do fat people dance

at the Rebel Man Standard festival at the Yinka Shonibare guest projects space

Charlotte danced and displayed on a screen an essay about being a fat dancer. So much of my internal dialogue of the past few years was explored: As I started to dance in my middle 30s, with a gammy hip and a lifelong negative feeling of being fat I’ve frequently felt a feeling of illegitimacy as I walk into those studios full of skinny young things. My presence is frequently appreciated for my energy and I can accept that (I read it as “wow you’re crippled and old.. so brave to be here with us”) but I dismiss anyone who says they appreciate me for my dance (they’re just “being nice”/ like me and so enjoy whatever I do. Dance in one way or another has been one of my primary activities, concerns and obsessions of over a decade now. It is an integral part of my work and social and leisure life. I have countless friends in various dance communities. Very few days pass without me thinking or talking about or practicing dance or related movement or body work. It is one of my very favourite things, I frequently encourage others to do it and believe that (alongside music) it’s at the very crux of our humanity in it’s “higher” forms and what makes us potentially and ideally a perfect blend of nature and culture. Charlotte danced no better or worse than I, it was a great pleasure to see her move. I have seen much more trained and conventional looking dancers perform and been vastly less engaged. Of course there was also many words to digest, and she is a very intelligent and engaging woman, the music also was a great pleasure. Sometimes it is incredible just to watch a highly trained and “perfected” body doing it’s thing: watching the warm up class at the Royal Ballet was entirely enthralling, uplifting, inspiring and amazing.. and that was just them warming up. But with the amount of dedication I have shown toward the practice why do I still confer this cruelty upon myself, or do I simply not dance enough? As in exploring my own dance in environments other than a club, party or class. (Pepa just said the same thing that she doesn’t dance enough and was inspired that I was moving this morning to do so in her room, and I never question whether she’s a dancer!). Charlotte’s show made me realise how very much I’ve internalised all my anxieties about being a “good enough” or legitimate dancer because of my age, my figure, my hip primarily, I am restricted, there is no doubt, and this is more present in some dance contexts than others. Ballet was somehow validating because my teacher was such an exceptionally individual judger of ability: He saw my development and dedication based on my own terms and praised within those terms rather than terms it would be impossible to attain. I did not feel, except very rarely the same validation within contemporary contexts, which I think too often have a hint of bullshit due to their being so dedicated to pretending not to be connected to ballet, among other things (dishonesty so often leads to bigotry innit?). In African and Butoh contexts I feel a lot more at home and able to be me, but I’ve been very aware of this internals narrative lately. A constant “Don’t try too hard you’ll never be good and you’re bound to injure yourself further”‘ even in a room full of smiling praising welcoming dancers and drummers. Anyway somehow Charlotte externalised and echoed a narrative of “wrongness” that has become so second nature to me that It mostly just forms another rhythm track among all the others occurring in a dance class.

And can I extend this to other things? Pepa just said it’s about the relationship of the “intimate and the political” (She is very good at speaking in this way.. Noemie characterised it as good at thinking and writing “conceptually”) (she also just came to ask to borrow my bike saying “can i be the last day of pesadilla?” which i didn’t at first understand. Pesadilla=nightmare and she knows my bike is the one thing I don’t like to lend. I do like this sentence. Could be a good title for something? She does have a way with words, must remind her of this.

Anyhoo, I started this because I registered my desire to both write in this blog and to talk about some personal, and I can’t imagine interesting to anyone else, thoughts. It’s this problem I’ve had a long while, that I first addressed in my Flotilla of Regrets. That did cure the absolutely debilitating constant nag and drag of regret, waking up each morning with a litany of where I went wrong, but there are still residual lingering thoughts of that malady that I cannot move forth without finding a way to shed or transform. I have a deep and essential belief that my past decisions have closed the doors to the life I should be having. the Longterm Lover, the multiple children, the stable/ communal home, the established art career, the embedment within my community.. and the consecutive belief that it is too late to change or aspire to any of these things, partly because I feel so guilty because I did have opportunities to do and be otherwise. This means that I am essentially constantly diss-ing my current life and relationships. I have an amazing home (for now) and many relationships with people I love and admire. My last boyfriend was and is a wonderful man I am parted from due to our life logistics, we stayed attached a long time and neither of us have hooked up with anyone else, and maybe I will love again.. if I can get over this narrative of regret. Of.. I am disorganised and no institution will ever fund me, of I was a crap lesbian and so don’t have the consistent community my queerer friends established and my longterm queerness lost me potential knowledge of heterosexual getting togetherness, I obvs suffer some internalised homo or bi-phobia as though I’m happy bout the sexual choices of others I never name myself queer or poly or all those other things that are pretty acceptable these days but I somehow cringe to identify myself with. My essential feeling is that I’m awkward, wrong, bad, an outsider, not wanted, unbelonging, but I can’t find a reason that would enable me to find allegiance with others like me (although i guess my vast network of friends who are generally nomadic artistic individualists could be said to be this. The thought of which gives me a thought:

To reflect the ongoing issue of human displacement due to economics, war and climate change,  and the discovery of a so-called nomad gene: The variant, called DRD4-7R, is carried by about 20 percent of humans and the unlikelihood of being able to do away with the historically entrenched concept of borders can we not create a “Nomadic Nation”, with which to create treaties with host countries and allegiances to like experienced humans? I think I need to explore this idea more!

But in the meantime. How can I accept that my life is my life, as Deborah Hay said in Becky Edmunds film “Turn your Fucking Head”, which I saw last week

“WHAT IF WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS WHAT YOU NEED?”

The desire to tackle this actually came from the same performance at which I saw Charlotte, Zinzi Minott was supposed to perform but was replaced by Season Butler‘s Happiness Forgets

season butler happiness forgets

It was framed around the Cosby Show and about autobiography and identity and blackness and feminism and black rights and the complications of self and world (again “the intimate and the personal”) and she said while depressed last winter she binge watched the Cosby show. It made me think about my own current TV and radio addiction. It’s the first time since childhood I remember being so media dependent apart from the times I’ve been so because I was overtly and palpably depressed and how I could be watching and listening less and doing more to create the life I wish for but a part of me has given up and that is sad and silly and contrary to the way I choose to think bout the world and my life.

  1. I am not Old. I am “middle aged” but as far as I can tell that can stretch from 30 to 80 so I’m not even halfway through. I have a lot of living and loving and creating still to do.
  2. I am not “Fat” and if I do have rolls around my middle, bingo wings and a flabby chin am I not sexy still. I noticed during Charlotte’s show sitting with greater comfort, worrying less when my belly showed, noticed the constant self policing I engineer to try to disguise my “fatness”
  3. There is every chance that I will fall in love again with someone who loves me. I could get out more, go more places populated with men/ go on-line, flirt more, look, notice, not assume that everyone I’m attracted to would necessarily not be attracted to me
  4. I can make this project work, I will make this project work, this project is my work, this project works
  5. I will find a more permanent community to live and work in. I know many people all over the world who want the same thing. Losing this place is stimulus not tragedy.
  6. I am a dancer
  7. I am an artist
  8. I am a filmmaker
  9. My experiences add up to vastly more than artschool could ever have afforded me
  10. Not being a mother enables me to spend my time doing self-indulgent things like this, Love and parenting take many forms
  11. There are many people who relate to me: nomadic artistic individualists
  12. I am no more banal and narcissistic than anyone else that these are the fears that trouble my peace of mind
  13. Neo-Liberalism will end and I am part of a world wide movement trying to ensure that it doesn’t take the rest of us down with it when it does

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