By Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie
Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie, identified jointly as Divas Dance Theatre, are popular for his or her hugely visible, interdisciplinary brand of dance functionality that includes components of theatre, movie, opera, poetry and vaudevillian humour. Anarchic Dance, which includes a e-book and DVD-Rom, is a visible and textual list in their boundary-shattering functionality work. The DVD-Rom features extracts from Aggiss and Cowie's paintings, together with the highly-acclaimed dance film Motion regulate (premiered on BBC2 in 2002), rare video photos of their punk-comic live performances because the Wild Wigglers and reconstructions of Aggiss's solo functionality in Grotesque Dancer. These films are cross-referenced within the book, allowing readers to compare functionality and statement as Aggiss and Cowie invite a vast variety of writers to check their concert and dance monitor perform via research, thought, dialogue and personal response. broadly illustrated with black and white and color pictures Anarchic Dance, offers a finished research into Cowie and Aggiss’s collaborative partnership and demonstrates more than a few interesting techniques during which dance functionality could be engaged seriously.
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To be kinder, this writing is probably something we grow out of when we are less depressed or when we ﬁnd ourselves a girlfriend or boyfriend, or, even, as our skills as artists develop and we no longer feel we have to prove to our peers that we read diﬃcult, complex and fascinating books. Nevertheless, it is really to Divas’ credit that they have never lost sight of working an audience whilst at the same time creating dark and unsettling performances. Their visual, physical and musical vocabularies are startling and odd, but they don’t tell us why this is so; they forge an imaginative contract with the audience from the start.
Suddenly we look down into an abyss, that of the German militant tradition, where physical activity, here Turnen as seemingly harmless gymnastics, inevitably turns into marching and violence, into the movement of a war machine. The song has exhausted Liz Aggiss and she wipes the sweat from her brow. The fourth section is a ‘wall dance’ in which Aggiss moves with and against a wall hidden by black backdrops. The scene consists of sliding down, standing up, slithering down again, writhing her body around and around, wriggling in and out of the most awkward positions, some repeated, quoted, from the ﬁrst section.
And she questioned what the stage was about. Valeska Gert, who was Jewish, left Nazi Germany for Paris; from there she sailed to the United States. In late December 1938 she arrived in New York. But in the modern dance world of the United States there was no place for her. She remained less than marginal, because she had lost the society that had provided her with a basis for her critique, with reasons to attack it. The New World ignored her. As one of hundreds of thousands of refugees she had to survive, somehow.