Posts By: Katye Coe

Change is always happening

This post has 2 parts, that are vibrant as I prepare for Sunday’s Torchlight event.

The event focuses on Surrender in birth processes and in dancing and the every day. I have been thinking about big changes. And small ones.

I have been speaking to midwives and have been finding out also about the roots of the word midwife.It refers to the act of assisting to bring something forth.  At a talk last week, Guy Claxton referred to active listening that dancers practice as ‘attending as a mid wife does’. That the mid wife assists the woman to bring a baby forth but also this term can refer to others that assist to bring something into the world. I can now start to feel even more sure that my hunch that the role of the dancer and her practice of giving and getting attention might have some alignment to that of the word midwife.

2.   At the last Torchlight event people shared their own experiences of the vibrant but messy time after          a performance.

I noticed that it is when I get space and time to be in the mess that I’m able to more fully acknowledge an experience and how it has changed me. How change is inevitable and keeps happening … and I get the sense that I have to acknowledge that mostly change isn’t temporary …

but …

In the last few days I have heard the word resilience or being resilient (as something we need to be or could be better or more skilled at being) used many times, in documents that talk about being an artist for longer, being better at the job one does, being happier. Perhaps I am noticing it more because its been making me trip up a little or perhaps it is a popular term these days. Anyway I have been trying to apply it to my own experience and also encountering how I perceive other living being’s experiences too. And it doesn’t add up, so I keep looking up the definition of resilience in case I have misunderstood what it actually means. I haven’t. Resilience refers to the ability of something (or some body / creature / sentient being) to bounce back, to regain its original form after being compressed by something (think rubber balls I guess). Affirming or promoting resilience implies that (I) am not necessarily changed by what  (I) experience  – somehow can be skilled up to not be changed permanently by what I encounter / come across/ am compressed by. I find this difficult to reckon with.

So when change is invited (or perhaps happens and I know change is not always through choice) I can learn/ heal/ grow new branches/ get thicker skin (if I wanted to) but I am always transformed/ changed/ broken/ mended and never the same again. There is no bounce back to a former version. And therefore strategies to make one resilient (and with my cynic hat on, more productive short term) might just deny the fullness of the change and the rich mess of Afterwards too.

Im interested to find out how this focus on resilience might impact the ways that that intuition and listening to change as it happens, might impact a midwife and new mother experience.

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Assuming nothing – Katye Coe, a small thought

Photo by Anne Tetzlaff Choreographer: Florence Peake Performers: Lizzy Lequesne, Eve Stainton and Katye Coe


Being SDD’s first Torchlight Artist is giving me an opportunity to think about dancing in a different way. My Torchlight time is focused on investigating two themes, Surrender and Afterwards, which are my anchors but not necessarily linked.

Dancing does something that makes me more attuned to others and to my own sense of sentience. There has been a lot of talk of empathy and awareness in recent years. I go further. I want to bring attention to the deeply felt histories and unspoken knowing that attentive and skilled dancers have. It is important and urgent today.

These feelings are not exclusive to dancers. I like to imagine that all beings share these things deep down. These senses are often buried because we don’t necessarily use them so often in the every day. Maybe this is to do with the way that we are encouraged to make sense of everything, maybe it is because we no longer pay attention to intuition or to gut feelings. Our attention is split between so many different things all of the time. I believe that there are huge benefits to giving a different value to these intuitive or gutsy intelligences and that we are missing out by not doing so.

Performing dancing is also always relational … in relationship to. And in a world where the individual experience is being given such enormous emphasis, performing dancing is an important resistance corps because it is always an enacting with.

Surrender is something I experience when performing dancing – it is necessary to enter into the world of others, of the choreographer and the other performers I am working among. It is an act of great generosity. It comes from a place of quiet choice where agency is given space to materialise. It has nothing to do with submission in my experience. But there is for sure a letting go that is necessary.

And the afterwards … what dancers and others go through following a dance performance is complex and full of feeling and thought. My experience and in speaking to others, is that this afterwards is often experience alone and not given a place where it can be discussed and shared. I would like to change this.

None of this is about knowing. And it isn’t about answering questions or proving a point. I’m not interested in those things because if I go towards knowing then I go towards something fixed or finished. The kind of experience that I’m pointing at doesn’t answer questions or tick boxes. It does something else.

I found this quote earlier this week and it moves me and makes me remember why this is so important. I re-found this quote today and it is quite simply YES.

They are some words by Rosemary Butcher that were published in London Dance, about Gill Clarke shortly after Gill’s death in 2011. They were two amazing change makers who taught me so much about dancing and dancing practice.

“Gill’s passionate belief was that the dance practice she and her colleagues are involved in, has strongly embedded ethical values that are fundamental and timely; readiness, openness, curiosity, embracing individual enquiry, working co-operatively to find solutions, creating situations where learning can happen, embracing uncertainty, ambiguity and specificity, and “tuning” ones “skills of attention”. What better approach to our time and place.”

So perhaps what I am learning, and what I would like to shine this light on, is that the intelligence that dancers apply in their work, could bring vitality to many other situations outside of the world of performing dancing. In torchlight events I am inviting people to contribute who attend to situations where this kind of information or these kinds of intelligences are also visible. People like midwives and those who care for people at the end of life.

I also intend to bring alliances to things that each and every one of us experience. Falling asleep, orgasm, grief …

let’s see.

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