Meeting in Oxford on a raw January day, but the sun is shining for the first time in a while. We mull over how to take Late Work forward. Difficult to untangle the relationship between the project’s aspects as both research and performance. Is it primarily an investigation of the relationship of technique and choreography in the education of the dancer? Or is it a poetic meditation on the qualities and histories of two aging dancers, exploring the potential audience reaction to such work? In reality it is both; we need to find a form for the project that reflects both our academic and theatrical selves and fuses them in presentation – something we had tentatively essayed in giving our joint paper on de Valois in 2011. We consider expanding and developing our writing about and in response to the project; to explore our joint and separate stories in writing about our experience, practice, disciplinary knowledge, through information and anecdote. The while resolving to continue our research through doing and performing, which both of us have found enlivening. There is more to be discovered and further to go in the dancing. We are conscious of how much we have done and learned, and have an urgent need to create, shape and share our knowledge.
However a chill reality seeps in when considering how to fund the necessary work and time needed. For the independent artist working without on-going institutional support there is a cost to every step taken towards production which must be paid, usually up front. Meanwhile a university setting offers the promise of resources – facilities, support staff, space, designated research time – but at an increasingly high price in terms of teaching and administrative commitment. The innovative nature of our collaboration and fusion of artistic and academic practice makes it hard to fit into conventional frameworks on either side. There are few funding options open to individual artists who are not constituted as a formal organisation; and the byzantine structures, lengthy gestation periods and unlikely outcome of most academic research funding programmes will not provide for nurturing the seedling of this initiative in the now.
We seem to confront a brick wall of obstacles as we outline the practical problems we encounter as thinking creating artists in this most difficult of fields. But perhaps in articulating and facing up to the nature of the wall we are taking the first step to finding the crack we can breach… So for the moment it is a day at a time; further investigating performance opportunities, reading, writing, thinking and dancing, while the rest of our busy lives continue…