Dancer and Maker Hannah Buckley ‘takes over’ Kala Sangam

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Hannah Buckley ‘tookover’ Kala Sangam recently as our artist-in-residence, where she developed research for We Are Now – an ongoing film series, which she performed at the Women of the World Festival at Kala Sangam last month.

Read more about Hannah’s experience below…


From Nov 6th – 10th I was in residency at Kala Sangam developing research as part of my project We Are Now. I showed the result of my residency as part of Women of the World Festival, hosted by Kala Sangam on Nov 19th.

We Are Now is an ongoing intergenerational project that began in 2015, and came out of my work with Accumulations, a collective of four artists/curators/academics in Manchester.

We Are Now is an ongoing film series and will eventually be a live performance.

I am also working with photographer Sara Teresa to document the project, and we intend to produce a We Are Now book.

All elements of We Are Now celebrate intergenerational exchange and women.

My questions with the project as a whole are;

  • How do I create a space (and eventually performance) where adult / child and everything in between is equal? (ie. its not a something for children where adults can join in and visa versa).
  • How do I care for everyone’s needs but also challenge / explore / stay true to my artistic practice?
  • How do I care for everyone’s needs but move beyond social presumptions?
  • How can I be clear and also let things emerge?
  • How do I celebrate women and intergenerational exchange per-formatively/ through performance?

During my residency I used my relationship with my Nana Elsie Brown (age 94), conversations with my Mum, Aunty and my own body in relation to these things to think about the ageing body, the courage of older people and the (lack of) visibility of older people (specifically women).

Here are some questions / thoughts / notes / research from the residency and after my performance at WOW:

  • How can I talk about ageing with just my body on stage?
  • What do I want to say?
  • Is the juxtaposition of the image of Nana and my live body enough?
  • How do I develop movement that feels relevant to this subject matter?
  • How can I celebrate intergenerational exchange and women per formatively? What do I mean by this?

• The following quote from American choreographer Deborah Hay, underpinned my residency and

was something I returned to. Deborah talks about dance but I also thinks it relates to ageing.

‘If I really want to celebrate the ephemeral nature of dance then I must learn and respect time

passing’. Deborah Hay, Using the Sky: a dance, 2016.

• Being 32 is a kind of in-between age. I am not old but I am not young. But the ageing process is becoming more visible – in my own body and also in those closest to me. I have more awareness of ageing than I have ever done.

• I think about the the images of older people in the media – the silver haired, beautiful, yoga practicing women and the handsome older men, with chiseled faces, and I think about how far this is from reality.

• I think about the reality of watching Nana simultaneously fight against and succumb to her age.

• I decide to keep Nana’s portrait up for the whole of my performance. I like the idea of her watching over the audience. I think she looks strong in the picture.

• I feel guilty for being disappointed that I can’t interview my Nana because she went into hospital a few days before my residency started. In the end she is well enough for me to go and record her reading a quote. I wonder if I am being selfish. But I also know she enjoys doing things for my projects and will give her something to talk about. When I get to the hospital I sit chatting with her for a few minutes and then she says ‘come on, are we doing it?’

• In the post show discussion I was asked what I thought my Nana would think of what I had just performed. I said I genuinely didn’t know what her reaction would be. This surprised me, and also felt like a cop out answer. On the way home I remembered when I had showed her the film we made together and she said ‘what are those marks on my face’? [they are age marks / spots]

Links relating to the project

Hannah Buckley

Accumulations Project

Sara Teresa

Rowland Hill

Image credit: Sara Teresa
Categories: General News

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