February 7th – March 22nd 2020 at Cell Project Space
‘X6 Dance Space (1976-80): Liberation Notes’ at Cell Project Space is the first presentation of work about the X6 Collective (1976-80), founded by dance artists Emilyn Claid, Maedée Duprès, Fergus Early, Jacky Lansley and Mary Prestidge. The exhibition was curated by Rachael Davies.
The X6 Collective was a counter-cultural dance movement active from 1976 to 1980 in London, UK. X6 established an entirely new structure and way of working outside of Britain’s mainstream ballet and contemporary dance institutions. It was concerned with a fundamentally new approach to dance aesthetics, organisation and teaching, informed by emerging feminist and queer theoretical frameworks. The collective resisted style as a definition and operated within a non-hierarchal structure, producing a diverse and radical programme of performances, classes and workshops that took place in a warehouse in Butler’s Wharf, London – the X6 Dance Space. In addition, X6 produced and published ‘New Dance’ magazine (1977-88), a vital platform for progressive writing, which explored dance and its social context. The collective played a critical role in the development of UK contemporary and New Dance practices.
This exhibition brought together unseen, archival material including original photographs by Geoff White publicity from performances and events as well as a display of selected New Dance magazines. X6 developed new radical ways of working and thinking about dance relevant to its particular social and political moment.
This exhibition presented an opportunity to revisit the movement and consider the legacy of X6 within a contemporary framework, rethinking strategies of collectivity, resistance and opposition to oppressive politics within a current cultural and social context.
A programme of discussions and performances which took place throughout the duration of the exhibition, including new performance work by X6 founders Emilyn Claid, Fergus Early, Jacky Lansley and Mary Prestidge.
"‘Liberation Notes’ attests to an embodied countercultural politics mediated by dance criticism, handwritten advertisements for feminist workshops, and event scores that double as manifesto statements. […] A scheduled live program featuring X6 members may just reprise the group’s politics for dancers (and viewers) navigating the same old problems today.”
Tom Hastings, Art Forum
“Occupying a disused tea warehouse in Butler’s Wharf, on the south bank of the River Thames, the group initiated a collaborative and supportive environment — the X6 Dance Space — to teach, share, and perform experimental new work that stood in resistance to the work being produced by mainstream companies and institutions. […] As an important yet underrepresented moment in British cultural history, the work of the X6 is particularly prescient with regard to an accelerated interest in interdisciplinary practices and the related programming of dance and performance within art institutions today.”
Philomena Epps, Flash Art
“A rich array of photography, excerpts from the magazine, along with a few video clips of performance fragments and books by dance scholars involved with the collective bring to life the many ways in which X6 created dance that connected to its social and political context. Liberation Notes also brings awareness to X6’s invaluable legacy, its vital contribution to somatic practice, independent dance as we know it today and dance scholarship. […]
The exhibition and the various events that ran alongside it must be celebrated for bringing such extraordinary dance artists back into our vision and capturing precious archival material that contributes so much to our dance ecology.”
Josephine Leask, Dance Tabs