Interview: contemporary dance guru Siobhan Davies on her latest work, Table of Contents

Interview: contemporary dance guru Siobhan Davies on her latest work, Table of Contents

Photo: Pari Naderi

Looking back at paintings, writing or music from the past is made easy by the multitude of archives in the world. But how do you capture, and store, the more ephemeral art of dance – and the processes that went into its creation?

One of the few digital dance archives in existence documents the work of contemporary dance guru, Siobhan Davies. But putting the archive together flagged up what was missing – the movement.

‘We put in lots of objects – programmes, films, photographs,’ says Davies. ‘But in a way, celebrating those objects is unhelpful because it was all the things that moved that were actually what the performance was about.’

A desire to explore and remember works gone by led Davies and five fellow dance artists to create Table of Contents - A Live Installation: Memory and Presence.

‘I don’t think Table of Contents is a solution,’ says Davies, ‘but it is a way of bringing things up in our consciousness as performers, and involving the audience in that.’

Each performer uses their own personal history of dance and choreography to question how dance is archived, and the piece is deliberately set in a gallery, rather than a theatre, to challenge what dance is and how we access it.

Running for seven hours each day, the live installation also involves us, the audience, leading to a different output each day.

‘Every 20 minutes or so we all sit at down at a large table in the gallery, and ask members of the audience who are there to join us,’ explains Davies. ‘Then we plan the next 20-30 minutes. It gives us an opportunity to collect ourselves, and the audience a chance to access what’s going on.’

Tramway, Glasgow, Wed 29 Jan—Sun 9 Feb.

Siobhan Davies Dance: Table Of Contents

A live installation engaging the audience in an exploration of how different art forms build their own history.

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