About this Event
The first of two events, the video footage compiled for this screening highlights community focused aspects of Chisenhale’s programme, from teaching and summer schools to performance evenings. This screening will be followed by an in-conversation between Mary Prestidge and Rachael Davies. Mary was a co-founder of X6 Collective and Chisenhale Dance Space.
Within her work at Chisenhale, Mary occupied the role of community dance worker, alongside cris cheek and later Norman 'Rubba' Stephenson and Lynda Agard. Drawing on this experience, Mary and Rachael will discuss how Chisenhale was attempting to challenge traditional values and models in dance through experimental, investigate and interrogative artistic practices. In particular, the conversation will explore how new approaches to teaching and community engagement were being developed.
About Mary Prestidge
Mary Prestidge is an independent dancer based in Liverpool with a professional dance career that spans five decades. Mary was originally an Olympic gymnast in the 1960’s, she went on to dance with Ballet Rambert (1969-1974) and then later co-founded X6 Dance Space and its successor Chisenhale Dance Space. These organisations provided an important context for the research and development of new dance forms and new ways of presenting work. Mary’s interest in improvisation and modes of improvisational performance began at this time and she brought these new approaches and aesthetics of dance and performance to a growing independent dance scene.
Mary moved to Liverpool in 1995 and was key in the creation and development of a dance programme at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), until 2008. She was co-organiser of Liverpool International Festival of Dance Improvisation (LIFDI) (1999-2007) and subsequently co-founded LIC studio at Bluecoat, Liverpool, with Liverpool Improvisation Collective (2008-). With the Liverpool Improvisation Collective (LIC) artists and others, she continues to develop strategies and contexts for performance and artist exchange within the region, nationally and internationally.
About Chisenhale on Video
‘Chisenhale on Video’ is a two-part screening programme comprising archival video footage which documents Chisenhale Dance Space, its work, and the work of its members through the 1980s. Each event will include a curated programme of videos followed by an in-conversation between Rachael Davies and invited speakers Mary Prestidge and Sue Maclennan. The conversation will then be opened up to the audience for questions and further contributions.
In 1985, the Chisenhale Dance Space collective outlined four organisational priorities that went on to shape policy and programming for the remainder of the decade. In no particular order these objectives were:
To programme and develop new work
To programme and develop multi-media work
To work with non-western cultures
To work with youth
These objectives engendered an ambitious and varied programme supported by an interdisciplinary artist collective. In 1987, the arts magazine City Limits reported that it was precisely this ‘eclectic mix of popular, community and New Dance performances and workshops’ that made the organisation unique. Norma Cohen described Chisenhale as ‘London’s only radical dance space’ (City Limits 1985).
Taking the video footage as a starting point and with these organisational objectives in mind, ‘Chisenhale on Video’ aims to explore Chisenhale's work and ambitions during the 1980s and to situate these within their broader socio-political environment.
About Rachael Davies
These events have been curated and organised by Rachael Davies. Rachael is currently a PhD researcher at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University. Many of the videos shown in these events have been newly digitised by Rachael from the personal archives of Mary Prestidge. Rachael would like to express her gratitude to both Mary and Sue for their generosity in sharing their personal archives.
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
Chisenhale Dance Space, 64-84 Chisenhale Road, London, United Kingdom