Grief Dances is a project in development. Gillie talks about its unfinishedness in the podcast Unfinished/Unpublished with host Em Anderson here.
Gillie’s mother died in April 2016. For almost two years before that, Gillie took part in her care as her health deteriorated. Gillie’s grief began the moment she heard of the terminal diagnosis, and continues, though the acute pain, the last blow after so many exhausting months witnessing and supporting a very sick loved one, has passed.
During this time, Gillie danced. She toured two performances in which she danced by herself and with others. She danced in her back garden. She forced a reluctant boyfriend to slow dance; later, on the day of her mother’s death, he would do a small twirl for her while walking the dog. She wept on a dance floor, surrounded by friends. She jumped and jumped and jumped, holding a friend, on the uneven earth at a festival, lungs heaving and ankles twisting. A few days before her mother’s death, she got stuck in her hallway listening to a podcast about a different mother’s cancer, and the only way to move was to move, to really move, to dance.
Grief Dances is a book, maybe an experimental novel, maybe a series of short stories, a collection of poems. More than any of that, it’s an account of dances, an account of grief through dances. It is a choreography rendered through words.