In March 2015 Isaac Ouro-Gnao, editor of Gender in Dance, invited us to an interview to find out if there is a need and importance for a female exclusive platform.
You can read his full article and many more on the Gender in Dance website, a valuable resource to anyone interested in gender issues in the dance world. Gender in Dance is also on Twitter and on Facebook.
We thought this interview would be a great start to our Kaleidoscopic Arts blog and Isaac kindly agreed for us to republish it. We spoke about very complex issues and hope this interview will be part of the wider debate. The debate and our own thinking have to be on-going and the ideas and thoughts we present here are not at all conclusive. They are the beginning of our own approach and we are curious and excited to see where producing the Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform will take us.
Thank you Isaac for making us reflect on our practice and ambitions!
What made you personally decide to take on this challenge and create Kaleidoscopic? Was it through personal experience for example?
Lucia: Several events led to us producing the Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform. In August 2014 I was invited to participate in the CrisisArt Festival in Arezzo, Italy. It brings together artists and political activists who share performances, workshops and presentations. All performances were afterwards critically and constructively discussed by all participants.
There are many, many reasons why the festival was overwhelmingly inspiring and one of the best experiences in my life. The one relevant for Kaleidoscopic is that I found the feedback I received from the audience of my dance film incredibly helpful and empowering. Likewise I found it very valuable to continue engaging with a work once it’s over, and discuss my perception and experience with the makers of the work and other audience members.
Why did I not just participate in one of the many scratch nights available in London? Because at the time, I knew I wasn’t going to get many opportunities. I had no footage, no track record, etc. So I decided to put a night on myself, which would incorporate some of the amazing artistic experiences I gained at CrisisArt. Konstantina loved the idea and proposed to not just put on one night, but to create something bigger. We jumped in the deep end and have been continuously developing our vision since then. We want to figure out what it is that’s needed as we go along. It’s very much learning by doing.
Konstantina: Kaleidoscopic was at first born out of the need to showcase our work and get audiences’ feedback. The traditional theatre/performance setting doesn’t really allow this conversation between audience and performers, so we were looking for an unconventional space which would allow intimacy, as well as interaction between observers and performers.
After the success of the first platform, we decided that Kaleidoscopic Arts could be more than just a dance platform. Through Kaleidoscopic Arts we would like to address issues that young or emerging artists and choreographers are facing, to identify our need for collectiveness, as well as for further artistic development. It is our needs as freelance dance artists in the early stages of their careers that are being reflected through Kaleidoscopic Arts. Needs like: opportunities for visibility and networking, professional development and to be part of a dance community.
You offer many services to upcoming artists such as performance and screening opportunities, professional film and photography, and publicity. Does this cost you or the artists anything?
Konstantina: It costs nothing to the artists. These services do cost a lot of money but we have been very lucky so far to have some significant amount of in-kind support.
Lucia: Since we are currently unable to pay the choreographers expenses or a fee, they have to find a way to pay for the creation of their work. We are actively looking into ways to offset their costs. For example we are negotiating with venues for in-kind rehearsal space and of course we are working towards eventually receiving Arts Council funding. We know that this is not easily obtained any time soon, but we are taking the necessary steps that will enable us to apply. We are currently connecting with people who we think will be able to point us in the right direction.
We funded the first platform with our own earnings from our work as dancers, choreographers and teachers. We paid the photographer and filmmaker a modest fee and we shared the ticket revenue with the artists. This is not sustainable for Konstantina and I. This time round we are supported by the IdeasTap Innovators Fund which enables us to run the platform until approximately the end of the year. Konstantina and I receive a modest fee for our work from that.
How important is it for audiences to watch and know about upcoming female choreographers?
Lucia: Feminism has won a lot of battles over the last century or two. There are issues that still need work; equal pay comes to mind. Additionally there is the issue of under-representation or false representation of women within media, film, popular culture and in the arts.
Of course we see a lot of women. But we have a lack of women’s voices that show the way life looks from a woman’s perspective. It’s not necessarily about raising women’s issues; it’s a simple matter of hearing and seeing more women’s perspectives. The more we see diverse perspectives, the more we can understand each other, which I think is a prerequisite to equality.
That’s why it is important to see dance created by men and by women. We are currently working on an online survey with which we can underpin the need for our platform with statistics and opinions by more people than just ourselves and friends and colleagues.
Are you not afraid of being called sexist for being female exclusive?
Lucia: I do sometimes worry about that. But I think I shouldn’t. We are not here to exclude people. We are here to give excluded people the exposure they deserve.
Konstantina: Being myself a female dance artist, I address through my work themes that relate to the female nature. Thus, it felt natural to set up a platform that concentrates on empowering women dance artists. Moreover, it is easier for us to identify with the needs of female emerging choreographers as well as the need to create and strengthen bonds amongst us. Although Kaleidoscopic Arts is a platform that aims to create opportunities for emerging female choreographers, our targeted audience is not female exclusive. We would like to connect with both men and women.
Lucia: After all films, music etc. created by a man or woman are not intended for just the one gender. Art can speak to all.
Finally, what are your hopes for the future? What kind of influence do you want Kaleidoscopic to have?
Lucia: Since we have only been on the London arts scene for less than a year and have actually only been artists for a few years, our vision for what Kaleidoscopic Arts will be is in constant development. We are redefining where we will go regularly as we realise more and more what challenges exist for female choreographers. We believe that you have to aim high to get anywhere, so I would say the following: the crux is in the phase in which choreographers move from emerging to being commissioned and then being commissioned regularly and being able to present their work to a large and diverse public. That’s where the numbers of female choreographers dwindle. Our ambition will be to figure out why that is and then how we can help to solve the issue.
Konstantina: We are hoping to establish Kaleidoscopic Arts as a platform which takes place twice a year at least. Beyond the platform event, we would like to benefit our community of artists by offering seminars, mentoring support, resources and networking opportunities. Kaleidoscopic Arts aims to create a community of emerging artists which will be growing together as artists, will be supportive of each other’s work, will encourage collectiveness and new collaborations. Another aspect of our mission is to raise dance appreciation amongst the community, to making dance performance more accessible. We would like to challenge the audiences’ role, to give them the opportunity to know more about the artist’s process of making. In addition to that, we would like to encourage audience and artists to participate in discussions in order to reflect and deepen on the themes expressed, express feeling and ideas. Dance is a universal language, thus it should be accessible and coherent to anyone.
This post was published with permission by Isaac Ouro-Gnao of Gender in Dance. You can read his full article and many more on the Gender in Dance website, a valuable resource to anyone interested in gender issues in the dance world. Gender in Dance is also on Twitter and on Facebook.