Phew. I recently left London and moved back to Manchester (well Stockport.. but do you know where that is? Nope, thought not) to live with parents, in an attempt to save money for a trip to (dancing in) San Francisco, that I am planning for September. I also thought I would give me a bit more space and energy to work on creative projects etc etc. Wrong! I feel like I have been knocked off course and am currently fighting my way back with more dance more dance as my mantra. But less of that boring stuff. And more of the interesting things.
In a recent conversation I had with a very talented friend of mine, Lauren Davies, (she makes/styles/draws/sews/creates/photographs/) we were discussing the word 'artist'. The conversation started somewhere around the time Lauren said she didn't think of my sister (who is in the process of doing a photograph degree at Parson's New School in NYC) as an artist, and wasn't sure if she ever would. I asked her if she thought I was an artist and she said she wasn't sure. She felt that calling me and artist was disrespectful to my skills, to the things I had trained in so she feels she should call me a dancer/choreographer.
Language is a funny thing. It is so personal - the same word can mean very different things for different people. Once after a class I was asking Nigel Charnock about mailing lists and the like. He mentioned he was going to Hungary and I said something like 'oh, I didn't think they'd be in to contemporary dance there.' He physically stiffened and I had clearly insulted him by putting him in a contemporary dance bracket. 'I don't know if you've seen my work, but its not really contemporary dance, its more physical theatre' he replied. His response to the words 'contemporary dance' had caught me off guard. Personally I am quite loose with terms - anything that isn't ballet, or clearly definable as a form (as in tap is obviously tap, salsa obviously salsa etc) is contemporary dance, purely for ease. Contemporary dance, physical theatre, its all a big mushy mess in my head. But the little exchange with Nigel Charnock brought to my attention the importance, and limitations, of language.
For me artist is specifically some one who draws or paints. But I view dance as an art form, so does that not make me an artist? I tend to think of people who define themselves as 'movement artists' as untrained. I tend to use the word creative much more than artistic. I tend to dislike the connotations that surround describing myself as a dancer.
I feel that having many artistic/creative/dancer friends and working in the 'arts' myself actually makes definitions and labels harder because people just are these things, getting on with stuff, making dances - its a way of life rather than a job or a role. I'm not an artist or a dancer or choreographer. I'm just me, doing stuff.
And just for reference Lauren goes by the label of 'maker'.