For someone like me, dance is something I either do late at night alone with headphones clamped around my head, or late at night with friends under the influence. It’s not something I actively pursue for an evening’s entertainment. If a movement piece or symbolic dance is incorporated into a play I’m watching, I end up cringing into my sleeve. So if, like me, you’re someone who doesn’t really ‘get’ or ‘feel’ dance, you might want to check out The Industry.
Six performance-makers – Hrafnhildur Benediktsdottir, Alexandrina Hemsley, Tuuli Hynynen, Amanda Prince-Lubawy, Christopher Matthews, and Else Tunemyr – make up the group. They like to stress it is not a band, or a commune, or a ‘collective,’ but simply a group. The Industry are united by an interest and active contribution to performance, and currently reside at Hotel Elephant in Elephant and Castle. On Friday 30 March they curated their first night of performances, The Industry Presents as part of SLAM Last Fridays, and they hold open studio nights the third Thursday of every month in their home studio.
Everyone could be involved without that participatory pressure…
I attended their open night, The Industry Loves on 19 April, with no idea what to expect, other than it was six individuals’ takes on that most universal of all themes: love.
The evening featured the performers moving through and engaging with the audience who were free to drink, mingle, and roam around the space at will; performances were either continuous with the group members ‘on’ throughout, or audience members were invited to watch/participate in individual’s pieces. Everyone could be involved at their own pace without that participatory pressure that can make nervous wrecks out of those not used to, or nervous in theatrical environments.
The moment I walked in I was invited to partake in a headphone listening session entitled Surrender with Hemsley, which I, being a bit slow, didn’t immediately get as being part of the event, so refused out of fear of missing out on other stuff. Fortunately this is a smart bunch of people, so I was quickly reassured.
…everyone swaying together to music. All loved up
For Surrender the performer and participant sat on two chairs close together, the participant listened to text written and spoken by Hemsley through headphones and recited what they heard aloud, while Hemsley listened and moved to the spoken words. The emphasis being on the process of listening to the words of another, and how both participant and performer were affected. The transfer of one’s own authorship into another’s hands was for me not dissimilar to what it is to enter into a relationship with someone: the putting of one’s own life into another’s hands for you both to shape, requiring trust and participation from both parties.
There were also very interesting conversations about the difficulties, disappointments and pleasures of navigating internet dating sites for homosexual males, the narration of a 24-page teenage love letter, isolated dance pieces and a running dance video. The night culminated in everyone swaying together to music before trickling out into the night. All loved up.
Bringing six different minds to bear on a single topic means that, whatever they focus on, The Industry’s approach will always be diverse and varied, which is what makes their work so thought provoking and enjoyable to be a part of – some views will be close to your own feelings, others you may have had no reason to consider before. The open nights they host make for a very open-minded, welcoming and warm environment, the doors next being thrown open this Thursday 17 May at 6pm for The Industry Discuss. So swing by and meet them. Every month is different, and if they’re good already, they’re only going to get better.