I’m in bed. Tired and awake. If you want a coherent response to Juncture Day 3, then this may not be the place to find it. The truth is, I’ve not felt this exhausted since I gave birth and, for this reason, I have surrendered my capabilities to participate in day 4 and I shall instead be seeking out quiet and non-artistic experiences that take place in the fresh air. We danced until 1am and I can still feel the heat from my body and a pulsing sensation in my feet.
Yesterday was entirely and wonderfully surreal, fuelled by sleep deprivation and sharp injections of caffeine. The celebration of the youth dance fringe Dancing With Your Neighbours took place with a packed audience and enabled us to share the Juncture journey of 8 young members of Yorkshire Dance Youth. I cannot be impartial about this event (I was too involved) but, as with many youth and community events, I felt a deep sense of pride for what we’d achieved. I was humbled and inspired.
The inclusion of this event in the Juncture programme felt vital. There are too many festivals that solely play to one crowd, that only speak to themselves and that don’t connect with real people. This is not to imply that the arts community are somehow hallucinatory or on some sort of higher plane but there is a tendency to bounce around a creative bubble which can fail to involve those beyond its sphere… Enter Community Dance… in all its glory. It’s our chance to shine.
The event was introduced by Marianne and Michael, two of our Young Bloggers. It was the least prepared introduction in the universe but it was charming and perfect. “I’ve been asked to say something…but I don’t know what to say”… you can’t beat a bit of honesty. Maybe I should have prepped them better but actually I love this casual nature of presenting.
The film was screened, the group shared some live material and then they spoke to the audience, responding to a stream of questions. We then ate cake and listened to music. The most surprising thing about the event was the mix of audience… of course, friends, family and colleagues but sat amongst professional artists, producers and council representatives. Two worlds colliding and communicating. Lovely.
The following few hours were spent attempting to parent my 3-year-old daughter who ran in and amongst lighting cables, ladders and props, squealing with the enjoyment of having all this space and a few captive onlookers. Here we have it. The next generation of artist, running around in slightly baggy leggings and a chocolate-smeared t-shirt. I lay on the floor and pretended to be a snail and I wondered if this would make a good performance piece. Probably not. It would be seen as self indulgent.
Fast forward a few hours, neatly skimming past the bit in the pub in which I ordered a round of drinks and then completely forgot my PIN number. (£16.25’s worth of embarrassment and a slight concern that my lack of sleep has broken me.)
I then found myself watching Jordi Cortes’ In Heaven, a surreal experience which would have bamboozled even the most seasoned theatre goer. In truth, I loved him but I wasn’t entirely convinced that I loved it. He was warm and generous with the audience and he had a spark in his eye that seemed to evidence his love of life, of people and of the moment that he was in. It felt like he was enjoying himself and therefore it was hard not to go with it. He played about with the audience, flirting and selling himself as a giant slice of Spanish ham. I liked the way he joked and laughed and broke down some of the usual constructs of theatre. He involved us. He needed us. I think he just found us very English and I suddenly wished I was sat in a more forthcoming audience. He referred to the Spanish and how they were noisy and wanted to come up on to the stage. All very British here. All very civilised. Come on, I told myself, loosen up, have fun.
The stage was littered with lucky cats that glittered in the stage lights and we witnessed a series of scenes which included Jordi strutting about in sheer red footless tights with high heeled patent black shoes and a pig’s head masking his face from the crowd. It was strange and often didn’t seem to connect or make much sense. I did find it strangely compelling though, and the final image of his naked body in a window of light being caressed by a projected version of himself was unbelievably striking and I felt really moved.
My favourite moment In Heaven was a seemingly impromptu duet by Wendy Houston and Jordi Cortes in which they recounted snippets of choreography from their past ventures together to a soundtrack of Cheek to Cheek. It felt extremely personal and yet entirely meant for us. I felt privileged to be there, watching an intimate moment between long lost friends. They spun in circles, hands held, moments of falling and being caught in each other’s arms, smiling eyes fixed on each other. I found myself grinning and wishing I was Wendy. Starstruck again.
Later in the evening, we all returned to Yorkshire Dance for ‘The Party’. I’d managed to convince some of my parental friends to come along and I secretly felt a pang of anxiety. I’m responsible now. They better have a good time.
For me, ‘The Party’ got better as the night wore on, until, at 1am, we left the dance floor and called it a night. It started slowly. People drip-feeding into the studio which had been brilliantly staged to resemble a night club, with twinkling fairy lights, circular tables and the battered red Chesterfield sofa that usually sits in the hallway outside our office. There was, of course, a bar which helped to lubricate people onto the dance floor as things progressed.
George Adams performed Solitaire, his solo piece. I think he would have agreed that it fell slightly flat, not aided by the fact that he’d consumed an entire bottle of peach schnapps and half a bottle of red wine. I’ve watched this work several times and it always feels a bit unsafe… an experiment in consumption and reaction. As with any alcoholic cocktail, it can go one of two ways. You are either the happy drunk, everyone’s friend, cheerily looning about and having a great time or you’re sat in a corner in floods of tears. It felt like George veered to the latter and hit on a tough crowd. To my embarrassment I was pulled out of the audience for some participation. I’m not shy and I didn’t mind, but having watched the first half of the performance, I felt completely unsure that this would work. Anyway, the audience appeared to rally a bit, enjoying George’s take on ‘live art’. I didn’t have much of a clue about what was happening and I also stumbled over saying my own name into the microphone. First my chip-and-pin and now my own name. Apparently part of my brain had imploded.
The rest of the evening was spent mainly on the floor, and the dance floor. At one point I felt like I’d never move again. I’d slumped. I’d been ‘over-Junctured’ and now I was crashing slowly off the cliff. Then, a sudden burst of energy… the right song and the pull of infectious energy from my colleagues and I was up and dancing manically. I think it was Kate Bush that did it. “Let me in to your window… it’s me… Cathy.”
Juncture is a two week festival but my journey is on pause for recovery. It’s made me realise a few things… firstly, I love my job. Secondly, I have great colleagues. Thirdly, I want to make something. This festival has been about art but ultimately it’s about people and its human themes have been apparent in everything.
At 1.10am, on a pavement outside Yorkshire Dance, Wendy Houstoun gave me a brief appraisal of my performance in George’s piece. I was too tired to remember what she said but I’m pretty sure she said that if she ever needed a magician’s assistant, she would call me. I really hope she does.