Amy Bell is at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe with a show that explores the lack of visibility for queer women in dance. She tells Giverny Masso how she hopes the show connects people…
What was the inspiration behind The Forecast?
It came out of a feeling of disconnect between my experience as a queer woman and my professional life as a dance maker. It seemed strange, because I felt like dance was such a liberal and accepting place, but there’s little visibility for queer women. Instead of feeling bitter or marginalised, I wanted to do something positive and draw attention to this in a way that connects people, rather than create more division. I wanted to celebrate, but also open a wider discourse around the changes and ambiguities that everybody experiences in their sense of desire and gender.
Why do you think there is a lack of visibility for queer women?
We consider dance as queer-friendly because historically there have been so many queer male artists and it’s often a safe haven for gay men, but traditional training can be quite feminising for everybody. I think that’s changing, especially for the younger generation, and that’s very exciting.
What was the process behind The Forecast?
About five or six years ago, I asked: ‘Where are all the queer women?’ I did a lot of, probably over-earnest, research on my own, then the project opened out when I started working with my collaborators: Hetain Patel as my dramaturg and animator, and Jamie McCarthy, who is the composer and live musician. I wanted to make something that would be personal, but that two guys like Hetain and Jamie, who are men and of different generations and backgrounds to me, could connect to. Together we made something that speaks to a wider audience than if it was just all about me. The Forecast is presented by the Place at Dance Base and is part of the British Council Showcase.
How did you get into dance?
Like lots of little kids, I loved dancing around the living room to Top of the Pops and my mum thought it might be good for me to try some ballet classes. I did that alongside judo and sports as well as modern dance, tap and folk dance. I didn’t think about it as a career until I thought I was going to have to give it up. I went to Cambridge University and studied English, and while I was there I worried that dance, as an adult, was going to become something I only did as a hobby. I didn’t want to lose that part of my life, it felt so integral to me, so I trained at London Contemporary Dance School after my English degree.
What work do you do outside dance making?
I was lucky to be invited by the Place in London and Yorkshire Dance to do some curating around queer events. At the Place I curate Spayed, which is a queer feminist festival, and that’s been terrific because it’s part of a warm activism I can participate in that is enjoying and celebrating the works of other artists. I am now full-time artist development manager at the Place.
Training: Undergraduate degree (2003-06); part of postgraduate company Edge (2007-07) at London Contemporary Dance School
First professional role: Dancer with Maresa von Stockert at Tilted Productions (2007)
Agent: Kat Bridge and Lydia Wharf (producers)
The Forecast runs at Dance Base at Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 21 to 25. More information is available at: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/forecast