‘There cannot be just one companion species; there have to be at least two to make one. It is in the syntax; it is in the flesh.’
Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness
Familiar is a twinset of performances on significant otherness. One authored by Kleiman and performed by Wohead, the other authored by Wohead and performed by Kleiman, the two are twisted together with the help of story, song and spit.
Springboarding from a question of companionship, Kleiman and Wohead reach for something altogether more mysterious: a shaggy dog story danced by Twin Peaks’ legendary Log Lady, speaking from the beyond to enable the pair to become others of significance then and there in the theatre.
Set amongst an original design by celebrated artist Tim Spooner, the works in Familiar play out what it means to be companions, where we think we know everything about each other whilst facing the fact that we can’t.
Fat Performance DIY
In late 2020 Gillie ran a workshop, under the auspices of Live Art Development Agency’s DIY scheme, called Fat Performance. Originally conceived as an in-person event, COVID restrictions demanded an online version, which also made space for more people from around the world, including Argentina, the United States, Australia, Germany, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The workshop spawned the Fat Performance Network, with which Gillie continues to be involved.
Aspects of the workshop were turned into a workbook by Gillie and some of the workshop participants:
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 Gillie talks about its unfinishedness in the podcast Unfinished/Unpublished with host Em Anderson here.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.
In 2019, Gillie completed her PhD project, ‘Recreation and Significant Others: seeking post-work possibilities in contemporary choreography’ under the supervision of Dr Simon Bayly and Dr Sara Houston. Examiners Professor Emilyn Claid and Professor Nicholas Ridout passed the work with no corrections.
The thesis is available via the University of Roehampton repository.
Highly visual, unabashedly experimental and underscored by generous humour, Recreation is a choreography about work. Rather, it's about the things that we do that aren't work, or that aren't quite work. It's a show about caring, about cooking, about sex, about gardening and meditating and singing in the kitchen and playing 5-a-side, and, of course, about dancing.
Performed by professional, not-quite-professional and non-professional dancers – including guest performers local to each venue - Recreation is a lamentation for leisure, a choreographed question of labour, a danced demand for seeing our value beyond our work.
neither use nor ornament
...neither use nor ornament was a research project in 2013-4. It was a solo project, obsessed with ornament, wherein I invited three independent choreographers to come and be the guest director. I was working with myself as a performer and as a director, how I could pass on information, and how I could develop my skills. The invited choreographers were Gaby Agis, Theo Clinkard and Roberta Jean.