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.