Magazine article Dance Magazine

Gillian Walsh: The Choreographer's Latest Work Questions Why Anyone Would Become a Dancer

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Gillian Walsh: The Choreographer's Latest Work Questions Why Anyone Would Become a Dancer

Article excerpt

The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17-19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.

You describe Fame Notions as a dancer-focused work. What do you mean by that?

I'm looking at the ways in which dance is alienating and the problematic figure of the dancer.

How is being a dancer alienating?

You're consistently silenced. All of the discourse centers around the choreographer and the objects of their creation. You're asked also to be extremely adaptable without ownership over any product. Dancers are barely ever paid, constantly traumatized by bad working conditions and trained for years to enter an absolute void. There really aren't jobs. I think this is very specific to the American economy.

Probably a lot of people reading this are dancers, or hope to be.

Obviously we love dance. It feels good. There are so many reasons to do it, and we're still doing it, still believing in it. So what's the drive to do something that's obviously not in your best interest?

That's a question for yourself, too.

Yes. Why am I doing it? If it does have all these conflicting desires, is it okay to walk away? …

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