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Double Vision, Sallis Benney Theatre

By Ian Ray

The Argus, 12 March 2009

Anarchic dancer and artist Liz Aggiss’ brand of performance has never been easy to shoehorn into any specific category, and her latest show continues to evade easy definition.

A collaboration with Charlotte Vincent of the acclaimed Vincent Dance Theatre, Double Vision blends dance and dialogue in an opening piece before its creators present a scripted conversation with each other to the audience.

Finally, there will be a question and answer session with Vincent and Aggiss, who first met on an artists’ retreat in Scotland.

“We’ve created this piece of work which is really like a comic double act,” Aggiss says.

“We were interested in what it’s like to be mature artists – I’m quite decrepit now, and we have a combined age of 96. Dance is normally thought of as something for the youthful nymphette, but I still hop around like a spring chicken, so that was another area we thought we could incorporate into the work.”

The piece also seeks to explore the often fraught relationship between director and performer, and sees both of them play up to the roles they occupy outside of the collaboration, as Aggiss – very much a performer – demonstrates a series of dance pieces or “acts” to Vincent.

“It does present quite a tussle,” Aggiss says. “It’s a very odd situation, because I’m used to directing myself and performing and Charlotte has been in the role of director and hasn’t performed for some years.”

Aggiss and Vincent utilise a space containing a table and chairs with a series of microphones. Sometimes they perform into the microphones and sometimes deliberately off-mic. There are also clearly demarcated on-stage and off-stage performance areas that they inhabit.

“The audience is very clear when we’re off and when we’re on-stage and kind of collude with the audience to explain what we’re doing,” Aggiss explains.

This liminal approach has characterised Aggiss’ work.

As well as being a dancer, she is also a film-maker, artist and professor of visual performance at the University of Brighton.

“All disciplines are up for grabs for me,” she says. “I enjoy moving between disciplines, but it’s strange when people ask me what I do – I just say ‘I’m Liz Aggiss’.”

Double Vision will continue to tour for the rest of the year, before Aggiss takes up another film project.

“I have a commission from South East Dance to make a new screen-dance film, so I’ll be shooting, directing and choreographing that around July and August. It’s called Party Animal and it’s about looking at the animalistic qualities of human beings.”

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