Interview: Art in the form of a knees up

Monday 3 November 2014

Gillie Kleiman in 'A Lyrical Dance Concert'

Can cabaret also be a gig or an experimental dance performance? Can a party be a comedy double act? Gillie Kleiman, Sara Lindstrom and guest performer Eleanor Sikorski promise all the answers and a good old knees up as well in their A Lyrical Dance Concert , currently touring the UK. With London dates coming up at Greenwich Dance (this Friday) and Shoreditch Town Hall (13 & 14 November) we asked Gillie to tell us all about it…

Sara [Lindstrom] and I met in 2010 ina big house in northeast France. After hanging out a bit, we realised we laughed at a lot of the same pretty stupid things – and, most importantly, we laughed at one another.

During a chat about more or less nothing, we got to joking about what a lyrical dance is – not a dance lyrical in quality, but a dance of lyrics. We found this very amusing, and set about making a list of songs we could do this with. Sitting side-by-side with my laptop and Spotify in front of us, we conceived the show.

Fast forward to 2013, and we’re in the studio at Dance4 in Nottingham. The brilliant team, co-producing the show, pop in and out. We threw a blanket over Ruth, handed Claire some lyrics and touched Paul, all in the name of artistic research. We asked ourselves questions, pinned on the wall as reminders of what on earth it is that we’re doing – questions about pop culture, dance, comedy and politics. We developed a fairly good system of taking turns responding to songs of the other’s choice, resulting in some ridiculous dances to chart hits by Dire Straits, Slipknot and No Doubt, none of which made it to the final cut.

After weeks of work (and laughs) (and cries), we ended up with a show we’re proud of. It’s a cabaret of sorts – we do a series of numbers, each a combination of movement, song, speech, jokes, fantastical costume changes and a ton of lamé. The numbers are driven by pop hits we know and (mainly) love, which we interpret as literally as possible, responding to lyrics as directions. When Mariah says Touch My Body, that’s what we do. Only You, Bobby Vinton’s 1950s hit, is only for you.

The show depends a whole lot on the audience. We work together as a room to shape the show each time, your reactions and interventions making it possible for us to go on. We’ll offer you a private dance (of our own daft sort) or ask you to sing along. At the end of the show we make a special souvenir for you all to enjoy at home, and remember us by! Having said that, there’s room for those who are less participatorily-inclined: grab a drink and sit back; there’s plenty to see and hear.

One of our important references was the common-or-garden pub, which was the environment to which we originally toured last year. There’s something a little bit 1970s about the show – think working men’s club, all-round entertainment, a little bit of karaoke, a touch of drag. This is a night out as much as it’s an artwork, so get dressed up (we’ll be wearing gold and purple), get a round in and chuckle along with your pals. Chat right through it, have a dance yourself, take selfies if you like. It’s art in the form of a knees-up!

Catch A Lyrical Dance Concert at Greenwich Dance, Friday 7 November (£10/£7.50)
and Shoreditch Town Hall, 13 & 14 November (£11)

UK tour til February 2015. Dates & venues:

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