Photo: Timothy Spain
Emilyn Claid’s career stretches back to the 1960s when she was a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and the 1970s when she was co-founder of X6 Dance Space in London. In the 1980s she was artistic director of Extemporary Dance Theatre and in the 1990s worked as an independent dance artist, creating a range of Arts Council funded touring performances. Emilyn has choreographed for companies such as Phoenix Dance Company and CandoCo Dance Company and has led performance research projects in places such as Auckland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, Helsinki and Beirut. In 1997 she was awarded a PhD and since 2003 Emilyn has worked as a professor at Dartington College of Arts and at University of Roehampton. In 2020 she resigned from the arena of academia to continue her free-lance career as dance artist, performance maker and psychotherapist. FALLING through dance and life (Bloomsbury 2021) is her second book, the first being Yes? No! Maybe… (Routledge, 2006).
Making with Mess
My practice is one of living experience, as a queer woman intrigued with the bodily effects of laughter, failure and ageing. In performance-making environments these themes are explored through improvisational one-to-one and group scores. I might describe my practice as based in a kind of call and response, using gesture, speech and writing to evoke a jumble of stuff that exists in the arc between perception and interpretation. I seek to expand imaginations in this phenomenological space, to sense the impact of encounter, and as a consequence, to notice, unravel, and perhaps innovate, different responsive possibilities. The practice invites us to bring our entire human-ness – human mess – to listen, sense, confront and interact.
Underlying the practice is a sensing of body, gravity and ground, as environmental and self-support, as an undoing of the supremacy of verticality and as a foundation from which to meet each other with playful curiosity about difference.
My practice evolves through experiences as a dancer, teacher, performance-maker, writer and Gestalt psychotherapist. I explore the practice within dance and therapeutic settings, while also engaging with research that crosses between the two fields.
Laughter erupts between bodies as a shared gift, undoing the fixed sensibleness of an upright “I”.
 Claid, E. (2021) FALLING through dance and life London New York: Bloomsbury
Photo: Heidi Rustgaard