‘The bodies hold the most power’: doing dance on a par with Iraq

Dancing Bodies is a success at the Royal Opera House – two weeks after the soulful opera opened For the Bristol-born, London-based contemporary performer Kandis Williams, new work always has a core value, but…

‘The bodies hold the most power’: doing dance on a par with Iraq

Dancing Bodies is a success at the Royal Opera House – two weeks after the soulful opera opened

For the Bristol-born, London-based contemporary performer Kandis Williams, new work always has a core value, but wherever it originates, she thinks it has to have some sort of “historical quality”.

‘Dancing Bodies’ investigates the links between dancers, tribes and ancient ritual

She’s quick to emphasise that this isn’t “institutionally agreed” teaching and practice — it’s more about what happens in many living and working communities. “Then you see what’s the modern one because of that,” she says. “So it could be mainstream, it could be eccentric, it could be something very different in Alaska — my production ideas will always evolve and grow.”

Part of the impetus for organising Dancing Bodies was to grapple with “the areas of dance that don’t get explored often and go deeper and deeper into it”. Yet it’s a dry political and cultural dialectic. “I’m interested in issues of body ownership and possession,” says Williams. “I think the concepts of racial and social identity are ultimately about how we are represented.” In terms of cross-cultural encounters, we are constantly “having to renegotiate these ways of seeing ourselves and engaging with each other”.

Dancing Bodies investigates the links between dancers, tribes and ancient ritual.

A lot of new, complex, anxious and still-unfolding dance, she says, and its commercial potential, “seems to sit in one culture, then work its way to another. Sometimes that is with a country, sometimes that is through literature. “So,” she says, “you might have a piece that is set in some wonderful folk dance, but from here, it travels somewhere else and then appears and then one of its things happens.

“Then there are the other elements of just having connections that are disparate. I don’t feel there is one thing that tells you about what’s going on — that’s why I love it. That’s part of the information. It is part of the process.”

Kandis Williams & Dan Tilley Live at The Royal Opera House, London WC2B

Dancing Bodies is transferred from the Gielgud Theatre in St James to the Royal Opera House for runs at the National Theatre, during which it was transferred for rehearsal, and then, with the continuing success, to the Royal Opera House.

A final piece then pops up at Gitex. Williams is reluctant to predict a course to fruition, apart from this: “Things come as they come and come as they come and they feel like the right thing right now. It will happen.

“Right now? I’m maybe uncertain,” she says, shrugging. “Maybe the audiences will meet their needs tonight and the desire and hunger and execution and the ideas that are produced will flow back to the National Theatre.”

But, she adds: “It’s also like, ‘I want to find a place’. I want people to feel that sense that it’s a place for them, but then its about finding a theatre, a form. I think there is a space for artists to start, I just don’t know exactly where it is. That’s just like the space for me.”

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