Northern Soul

Helio Oiticica has described dance an “…an experience of high vitality, indispensable – especially as demolisher of prejudices, stereotypes, etc.” 1

I am interested in dance is an egalitarian space where people are free to express themselves.

My current work, The Dancers explores the universality of music and dance and the idea of joy.

The imagery is based on nightclubbing and the Northern Soul scene. Northern Soul is music from the 1960s that didn’t enjoy commercial success at the time but became popular with DJs and dancers as part of an underground scene in the 1970s and 80s and has subsequently become a worldwide phenomenon.

As an authentically working-class movement it has much in common with the rave scene of the late 80s and early 90s. I grew up with the music and before the pandemic regularly attended Northern Soul nights.

On the dancefloor at Northern Soul nights, it is very common to see dancers in their 70s alongside teenagers. Music and dance have the power to transport us, and this is undiminished by the ageing process.

Music and dance are often central to the stories people tell about their lives and are recounted as moments of pure joy. The sense that music and dancing will change in their specifics but retain their universal importance as part of our emotional lives and identity is an area I am researching and exploring in my work.

1Helio Oiticica From Dance in my Experience, 1965, Taken from Dance Edited by Andre Lepecki, Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery