Being in a collective is like having a relationship or a family, that needs to be nourished and taken care of. You become close and the conventional barriers of professional relations are gone. This means beautiful intimacy and trust, but also ugly moments of tenseness and disrespect. There are highs and lows, really good times and really bad times. Approximately one year ago Fanclub acknowledged that we were in one of the more dark periods, and as we saw It there were only two ways to go – reevaluate or shut down. Luckily we went with the first one and I must say that, even if it probably was the hardest thing we have ever done I am so bloody happy and proud we did!
This past year have been a year of processing the past work and practises of Fanclub and transforming/adapting the concept into something more elastic, playful and inclusive, that excites and challenge us all. Not only for the sake of our creativity and the arts, but also as a counterbalance and a stand against the capitalistic thinking that indeed also exists in the stagearts. We’ve taken the decision to put ourselves and the wellbeing of the collective in first place, trusting that as a way to create/to be the base for creativity and at the same time being able to survive, not going under with stress and self doubt.
Struggles & Transformation
During the nordic tour with our latest big production ‘DEATH’ in 2014, we started a research project called ‘Collecting Thoughts on Collectivity’, developed together with RISK’s Ida-Elisabeth Larsen. This became the starting point for a new transformation of our work. But to be honest, I think it had already begun before that point, we just needed the right set off. As well as an outside eye, one that we trusted. Our aim with this side project was to research the current state of collectivity within the independent performance and dance scene in the Nordic countries. What it mainly became, for me, was an analysis and an insight to our own collective. Ida helped us to articulate our own practice – to be a bit grand – I think she helped us finding new artistic potentials in Fanclub. Or, maybe more like getting us to reflect upon the past and see the unexplored grounds we had yet to discover – or, maybe it’s the same thing, just different words?
We had a lot of ambitions on behalf of Fanclub, that sounded really good on paper. One of Fanclub’s goals from the start have been to break with traditional working formats but, how do we do that in this structure we created and is it possible to work outside the set framework (of the society/art fundings or what?) and yet still play within the same rules? I guess the way people work in our community have changed a lot in the five years we’ve existed, so maybe it’s a bit blurry what “traditional” refers to, but we’ve always been interested in the position of being dancers with influence over the artistic work and our own artistic paths, in opposition to being in a project, hired by a choreographer. As we all felt, I think, it was rare to get a really interesting and fulfilling job, and once the project was over, you started from scratch again – with Fanclub we have the opportunity to evolve, evaluate and continue the work (keeping a red thread from project to project) as well as having the support and encouragement of each other.
At this stage in Fanclub’s life, we practise on how to lose control, going for the imperfect rather than the perfect and to be more playful in our process – artistically and practically – and how we relate to each other and to the Fanclub – with communication and timeframes. We need to do this for a while to learn how or to decode ourselves from what we think we need to do or be. Or maybe we have to do this forever, maybe it’s the way to be, work and exist in this world?
The importance of history / You always start from where you are
And so. Without the past five years we could not be where we are today. Starting out with nothing, getting the big money, building a name, producing, creating, trying to stay focused, trying to become and stay friends, going on tour, selling, trying to do something more, something that activates the dance environment, activates the society, dancing, performing, learning, singing, growing, burning out, taking a break, asking questions – who are we/am I and what do we/I want? For whom and for what are we doing all this work?
The process of the artist/the collective does not fit into how the modern society functions (or maybe rather dysfunctions) with all the pressure of being efficient, bigger and better ALL the time. This capitalist, patriarchal society structure and overproductive, overproducing way of being has to be fought down, but HOW? It sounds like an impossible task, like a Pie in the Sky, but truly I think it´s the only right way to go as an artist today, for the sake of us all. To insist on our own tempo, insisting on creative solutions and jigsaw pathways, standing on the edge of the money systems, going for anarchistic producing (whatever that means), insisting on being nice and understanding to each other (but of course still asking questions and challenge each other), being open and curious. Not letting the machinery take overhand. Not that we weren’t good at it, we just want something else. Hahha. Yes we were and still is – let’s redirect that skill and force of the “good” dancer/girl/artist!
The collective and the individual within
We’ve been talking a lot about how to use the potential or strength of the individual, how to channel this positive energy of the individual into the collective, pepping each other, making Fanclub, as well as the individual, flourish. I think we started this collective with a strong will, with five strong wills, doing something new, something for ourselves, for the community, and it’s first now, five years later that we start to understand what we have started, and the endless possibilities we have, as long as we are open for it. Keeping it curious, flexible and inclusive.
We experiment on how to develope material with a collective voice, without compromising too much or limiting the content and artistic flow. Like with creating this text for the RISKblog – we are on different places in Europe, busy with vacation/being a new mom/working/taking workshops – how do we deal with that lack of collective presence and a very short time frame? Can we create a text that maybe shows the collective voice as multi layered and nuanced as it actually is? Can we do this without developing stress, pressure and performance anxiety about a (non) result and instead go with the flow, be playful, and see where it leads us? Using situations like this as a tool for further development, research and breaking new grounds, instead of breaking down and keep spinning in the same old “ekorrhjul”.
Tetrads – being four
We went from being five to being four… Soon after it was notable that balance was displaced and weight shifted within our constellation. .
“With the notable exception of vocal and musical quartets, groups of four tend not to last very long. Two persons in the group are apt to find it more satisfying to relate to each other than to either of the others. If the other two feel left out, they have at least that in common. They may feel a need to counteract the advantage a pair has when acting together over an individual operating alone. The relationship becomes one of two pairs rather than an effective group of four members.
In decision-making groups the tendency to split two against two can lead to frustrating stalemates. Differences can be resolved more easily if the group starts out with three or five rather than four members.
On the other hand, a group of four can be stable if it depends upon unique contributions from each of its members. In a musical quartet each participant’s part is different and essential. The more experience the musicians have in playing together the better they can perform. Some such groups stay together for decades.
Stability can also result when there is one leader and three subordinates. A similar but short-lived pattern occurs at cocktail parties: studies of social gatherings find frequent clusters of one person talking and three listening.” (Wikipedia – Herbert Thelen Principle)
The Power of the Dancer (- Feminine Power)
Why dancers and not choreographers? I believe my choice to be a collective of dancers instead of choreographers lies in my believe in the soft power of the dancer, the ability to listen, take in and transform something outside myself, into myself. I see the dancer as a empatic, feminine power/energy, a way of being in the world where you take in, listen and make yourself available (physically and mentally) and transform information, and how I in this way make a huge impact and imprint on the outcome, without having to force it/someone/myself by using my “veto”. We do it together. On the other hand we are in some ways aliens that live in a parallel universe beside the rest of the society. Both in the way we experience and see the world but also how we live our lives, and how we function and relate to each other and our bodies, through our bodies. We are beings that can connect sounds, rhythms, bodies, nature and object thru energy and moment. The ability to be conscious about these elements that always exists around all of us. In the dancer lies the potential to show weakness without being afraid of losing power or credibility.
There is a struggle though, that might be specific for Fanclub (or not – since we started writing this text I’ve noticed it everywhere, talking about the stiff frames we are educated within, the hierarchy, the expectation to be a tool, a nice tool), to fight against the “good girl”, the “good dancer”. Of always wanting to be perfect, flawless, and always smiling, being correct and hiding your own needs. Important lesson to learn – within the collective and in life.
Multiple understanding and experience / Hierarchy
There is constantly this struggle, against the set, verbal language and the definitions given by our selves and the environment. Just take “Fanclub” as an example – it wasn’t certain that we were going to name our “Collective” that – but that choice have to an extreme extent shaped our activities and choices. Hopefully we’re now steering in a direction where we have a possibility to create and exist beyond verbality and more in dance. Move from the endless discussions into doing and trying out – living.
Movement and change – collective work and the dancer´s potential
To frame our work with words like dancer, collective, collaboration, having no other artistic goal than to work within the fields of what these words envelopes and invites us into – into investigate, to become, to belong into and create while render meanings to discover and react within and without existing and reappearing rules (of power or order or free potentials) while changing them, repetitions, negations and ruptures, modulations, directions, relations, intensities and potentials, sensations and changes into movement – communication.
Movement creates sensation and effect and forces the mind to engage in thought. What comes out or what comes first, the chicken or the egg? the society or the individual? the body or the mind? the general/the stasis or the singular? Where the idea of the complete individual with complete identity makes way for a society of generalities and stigmas – of stasis, the dancer’s body, the collective selves with intimate possibilities to change language and the meaning of language (whether through or of language, movement – corporeal or incorporeal ) without the predetermined already codified, use of the narrative, linear, signifying, codifying into habitual thinking into stasis, with the involvement of the tactile and the visceral into the proprioceptive, giving way for a re-evaluation of every moment/movement as something singular as never before happened and therefore actually sensed and experienced and effected into thinking and developing a new language with variations and change.
The collective space – to work and create within a necessary distance from one’s own ego. Sort of a place between yourself and the outcome yet to come. The collective work is an engagement in change, with the “unfounded and unmediated in-between of becoming”.
To form a collective ideal, as a direction, a collective ego, a potential rhizome of multiple, heterogeneous voices, ever changing. Accepting change and variations as to invite and create movement. Since change is movement.
Collaboration is an inviting rupture and welcoming meeting where new potentials are created.
In the dancer’s way of engaging and working with movement, with receiving and communicating at the same time moving and being moved, the intensities that force you to change, nothing is ever fixed, complete or perfect. There´s only directions, potentials and short eruptions, identities created are only short glimpses of productive lapses that pass through in the continuation of variations.
To accept and invite change, to accept eruptions and conflicts, to be otherness, multiplicities and engage in openness, sharing and receiving while creating is collective work as essential for human beings – individuals and society.
The movement in dance is potential.
Photo credit: Jacob Grønbech Jensen