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The Invitation of Precarity

Summer already, though I’m writing this wearing my winter jacket and leg-warmers.

I love writing outside as much as I love moving outside. The latter continues to be my daily practice. A love affair with the land, the weather, the sky and my moving body. Right now I’m snuggled in with one of my favourite rocks.

I want to share this lovely short film made by a student on the Weathering Well design studio I contributed to earlier in the year at Edinburgh College of Art.

Karina Rac, the MA student who made the film, resonated very much with Not Brittle, Not Rigid, Not Fixed the work that I made for Edinburgh Art Festival in 2022 which circled around Richard Sennet’s belief that how we are in our bodies reflects how we build our cities. In his words:

 “…the organization of bodily sensation influences how people behave in cities. It also influences the spaces they make” 

“….how the sense of the body enters into the built environment … how over the course of time different biological and cultural understandings about what the human body is, its physiology, its sense life, how that kind of organic understanding influences people’s ways of building inorganic forms…” 

I love Karina’s exploration of precarity and precariousness in her final portfolio work

Precarious – subject to change or unknown conditions, uncertain

which wonderfully reflects the body’s capacity to read, respond and adapt to the ever-changing environment it lives in constant collaboration with.

We tend to think of architecture as a fixed thing when in fact it holds a liveness for the body which is in constantly shifting dialogue and negotiation with surfaces and textures, light levels and temperatures, depth and breadth and heights of spaces. Architecture is a veritable sensory feast for the body, and in this sense our buildings always hold precarity, and perhaps the more of this there is, the more invitations there are for the body to be more fully alive. Precariousness can be an opportunity to build skills, awareness and resilience in the body and in being. Dealing with uncertainty is so very much needed in these times

Here is the film:  Precarious Performance                                                                                  I find it so wonderfully visceral. Thanks to Karina for sharing


I so enjoyed Weathering Well, yet another opportunity to bring people into body and to connect body with building. I loved the students final portfolio exhibition and seeing the movement influences pepper through their work. Good luck to all the students as they embark on the next stages of their careers

The rest of the summer is going to be busy, more on that later. For now I’ll keep nestling into the living 350million year old rock face, into its welcoming warmth, its strength, solidity, slowness and steadfastness. There feels little precarity here, yet it is constantly feeding my senses. The weather though is another thing

Hope everyone is finding some places to nestle this summer

Go well


Posted in News

Through Winter into Spring

As ever, time flies. Winter has turned into Spring and we have all became adept at managing the rain.

It’s been a busy time. Starting the year was Two Sisters with the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, walking too and from the theatre’s rehearsal space in the grey and the dark, never a problem for me as I have a love of and need for the darkness of the day. Two Sisters was intense, not least because of the productions chorus of 40+ theatre students from both Fife and Edinburgh College. They were superb in their energy, attitude, diversity and skill. I loved working with them. I loved their mutual questioning and openess and the balance of that. I loved how they looked out for each other. The movement required of them was functional, alive, present, instinctual and gritty (with a bit of towel dance choreography thrown in!) my favourite kind of movement in life and in theatre. We were counterbalancing, weight-bearing, climbing, jumping on and off the walls and climbing frames in the Set Design, lying down and sitting still for long lengths of time, and working with the movement invitations gifted by the superlative designs of their party costumes. It was a brutal schedule at times but we made it. I feel immensely proud and more importantly full of hope at the world to come being in the hands of this generation. 

Thanks too, to the Lyceum and all its crew, the creative team, the three phenomenal professional actors, director Wils Wilson, and to designer Elizabet from Copenhagen for her sensory physical set design full of invitations that enabled us to move with reality in the body. Two Sisters is a co-production with Malmö Stadtsteater. I’ll soon be going over there for a week to move with their young chorus and hand over my work to a brilliant locally based dance artist. More info here:  https://lyceum.org.uk/news/lisbeth-burian-on-designing-for-two-sisters

Next up was A Giant On The Bridge a gig-theatre work with Vox Liminus featuring original song and storytelling revealing the intimate authentic real-life human experiences of coming home from prison. What a powerful show and what integrity. To be in the presence of these powerhouse musicians was a daily joy, balm for the soul. To witness them growing in confidence as storytellers holding the stage without their instruments, coming out from behind, trusting their bodies and physicality . I love this subtle work with bodies. It is profound and lasting. So much of my work is about making people more of themselves, accessing and liberating what’s already there. A Giant On The Bridge has Made in Scotland funding and will be on at Assembly Roxy in the Fringe. I hope you get to see it.

If you can get to Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. The Talbot Rice Residents exhibition is shows until June 1st. There you will see the start of Emmie McLuskey’s A-Z Movement Alphabet series.

I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with Emmie on this, leading workshops with a glorious diversity of people exploring the alphabet as movement and in movement. Emmie’s 26 screen prints, for me, invite us to venture into the tangible pleasurable possibilities of an expanded movement vocabulary and a politic that invites embodiment, connection, expression and liberation. It’s a joy. https://www.trg.ed.ac.uk/resident/emmie-mcluskey

February saw me in Hamburg to work once more with “Here We Are” dance company under the direction of director Anke Böttcher. We’ve been working together for 18years! Imagine that! I first went to Hamburg with Royston Maldoom in date who invited me to make a work for a huge Community Dance Project engineered by Kontext-hamburg.de  As one of 5 choreographers we each made work performed in the Schauspielhaus – the biggest stage in Hamburg. These were heady days. I owe Royston a lot. Anke came to assist me and kept the work going. One of the dancers in that original piece is still with the company. Imagine that! They have made really good work in these 18 years and consistently pushed the boundaries of disability-led performance. I’m proud that something I started has such a legacy and body of work. And I’m proud still to be connected. This time I kick started the research for their next new work “Ich Sehe Was…”   More information here: https://www.hereweare.dance/

And finally, catch James V: Katherine if you can. The latest James play currently on tour in Scotland. It’s deliberately chamber size which has enabled a wonderfully versatile tour around Scotland.  Being movement director is such a collaborative process, facilitating bodies and image and story and possibility through and with the body. This one was a joy. It is making Scottish History. Directed by Orla O’Loughlin with a cast of four brilliant Scottish actors. Find out more here, tour dates, and a great podcast between writer Rona Munro and historian Ashley Douglas https://www.rawmaterialarts.com/james-v-katherine

I am still dancing daily in the park – through Winter into Spring  – I might see you there

Posted in News

Small acts of compassion and resistance

This, I think, has to be one of the toughest times we have lived through, not just on our doorstep but throughout the world. I have never felt so helpless but have to take action even more so – protesting, speaking out, showing up – and asking what is the purpose and necessity of our art-making in these times. For me the latter lies within acts of compassion and acts of resistance, small and quiet, invisible and visible, loud and fiesty.

This Autumn I had the pleasure of working in small ways with Collective Architecture to bring people into a deeper connection with and knowledge of the body and it’s movement. To move beyond excercise as we think of it, and away from body shaming and movement shaming into finding the pliant, resilient, joyful, energising movement strength and energy that is rightfully ours. To move more in daily life as part of living and being and working. To become more confident and less inhibited in our moving selves. To discover and recognise our physical intelligence and learn how to trust it. This is a small act of compassion towards ourselves and a small act of resistance against the two-dimensional ways that we are most often asked to engage with our moving selves. Suffice to say it was a joy, the movement, the discoveries and the great discussions we had together. Thank-you for inviting me, for checking me out, for the initial scepticism and for trusting.

There is more but that’s enough for now. Ah, except for working with some of the young people of our world – mentoring students, sharing practice and collaborationg to make new work. That is where the hope lies for me, in their enquiring, questioning, suport for one another and care. Thanks to them also.

I hope in the New Year we find many ways to come together, share space, resist, feel, protest, care, sing and dance, move in the full volume of our bodies and be there for one another. Warmest and best everyone and if you ever want companionship to discover and free more of your moving self don’t hesitate to be in touch

Video: An icosehedron that I took to Collective Architecture. My original Laban training.


Posted in News

AUTUMN GLORIES – settling down and settling in

This is my favourite time of year Autumn days become longed for during the heady days of summer Autumn is a settling time

From Old English setl : ‘a place to sit’ Of Germanic origin, related to German Sessel and Latin sella : ‘seat’, also to sit, And Old English setlan ‘to seat, place’ In Autumn I feel my bones settling in my body

A-Z A is for Angle and Z is for Zip and Zoom or maybe for zzzzzzzz

On the horizon of these next months to come is a collaboration with artist Emmie McLuskey who is making an Alphabet Movement Book, a picture book A to Z of the body in motion. Together we have created a series of workshops to be photographed and filmed.

It is pure joy working with diverse and different bodies in a process of discovery and exploration and play. Not only of the alphabet unfolding in human movement. But also, of each person’s innate and individual capacity and potential for movement expanding, flourishing, and growing, something that stays with us always

If you are interested in being part of a workshop please be in touch. No previous movement experience is necessary and we love all bodies and all ages.

Weathering Well

From long before the heady days of summer, I had the pleasure of working with students from MA(Hons) and BA Architecture Programme part of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture on a course unit titled Weathering Well.

You can find a bit more info about Weathering Well in a previous blog post, but here I wanted to share (with their permission) the work of one of the students – Kaiyin Zhao – from their final design studio in March https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNquT2AiNaY 

I love when work from one genre speaks in another genre and becomes its own and different thing, and when different enquirers respond to the same work in their different ways. I am moved too that both the body as a site of experience and the experience of growing older spoke to so many of the students informing both thinking and practice.

Wishing them all well in what is to come as they stride forth in life. Thanks to Fiona McLachlan for the invitation to contribute

Small Acts of Resistance

I continue to move in the park daily, dueting with the weather and the land. I find this daily practice is what informs, underpins and stabilises everything else that I do. I feel that I am welcomed there, that the park knows me and invites me in.

Land and weather, body and movement as spaces and places of discovery and of refuge, of connection and belonging, of deep time and slow time, of exhilaration and of peace, of experiencing and sensing.

These small acts of resistance, to the hurly burly and the commodified a claiming of space in an unobtrusive way a taking up of space and a sharing of space a clarion calling to the necessity of and caring for the civic public green spaces in our cities a way of moving that is such a simple thing to do shared as a reminder, an invitation and a prospect

Join me in person anytime, just be in touch, and catch me on twitter – @janicemparker – now and again

Have a good Autumn everyone. May you settle into yourself in the way that’s right for you. ‘Till soon


Posted in News

A Love of Comments Books

I love comments books. Garnering and gathering responses to the art work, for me, is an integral part of the work and becomes part of it. What it means to people, how it’s experienced. What people feel and think and say in the moment, written in a book is powerful and full of all the feels. We need to hear each others voices and make space for that to happen.

Here’s a wee sample of sharings from ‘TO AVOID FALLING APART’ the Travelling Gallery Exhibition I co-created with fellow artist Emmie McLuskey. The Gallery bus took a two month trip up and down the East Coast of Scotland to many diverse places and spaces, big and small.

The comments are positive (of course, what else would I share!), many reassurring – that what we hoped to achieve we did achieve –  insightful, and thought-provoking. There were a few that were negative of course, and that’s a fine thing. And there will be many more, positive and negative, that people have kept to themselves. There was lots of love for the ‘travelling bus’ too. Thanks for taking the time to write folks. To know what it means to you and what resonates means a lot:

Love the concept of the moving art gallery, very intimate, inspires trust

The world of images held me, softened me

Not what I expected but better than that


Thank-you for introducing your Art Bus to us. Very interesting and unusual and cool

Very thoughtful puts a physical spin on a mental idea


Perhaps we hold each other in body spirit and mind – as without all three we can’t achieve true balance with each other

Very profound

Really nice to pause and reflect on such a different medium. It made me stop and realise what I’ve got. Thank-you

I liked the silence

I loved the idea and the trust of hands clasped

How do we hold each other up?

Great way to be open-minded and make people think

Very interesting, lovely people, great experience, out of the ordinary

I love the exploration of balance and how we support one another

Anything that gets us back into our bodies and moves us from colonial concepts of intelligence – pondering on the terms reciprocity and the holding of one another especially with regards to social justice – amazing and reflective

I loved demonstrating the movements to a wee lass and her mum. Getting moving again in a cosy space. Thank-you

Such a simple and elegant way of sharing a beautiful message

Want to try it

Workshop next time?

I agree. I wish to try this and create the trust and sensations

I think this is amazing art

I liked the moving art

Is there any other movements you could use in art?

It was calming and nice

It was quiet and the lighting felt like a break from lights and things outside

It was interesting as the videos had no sound and most do nowadays. I felt like I could understand what they were saying without it. Inspiring!

Would have been better with Cher!

It was interesting feeling my friends skeleton

Love the words and how they are displayed

I liked all of the facts and I enjoyed it a lot

I liked that we had room to look properly

I found it really fun and the videos and quotes quite helpful

It was very dark and I liked it

A very calm moment in a very busy day

I loved the artists talk – movement in this way wasn’t something I’d ever thought about – not to ignore and hide the natural way. This exhibition felt very healing thank-you

Love the concept and as an autistic person it really speaks to me, and the use of space is delightfully accessible. I will consider this exhibition for a very long time

The poetry is captivating

Absolutely loved the poem and the framing used in the shots – altogether a really emotive exhibit. I’ll be thinking about that poem for a while

Stay creating and hold onto each other 

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Putting The Familiar Into Unfamiliar Places

I’ve been oh so lucky over these past few months, working with good people, making new things, hoping for and aiming for change and better, new, ways for us all

Being invited into the Visual Arts world has been a particular unexpected gifting. Recontextualising what I do, and sometimes take for granted, for different kinds of spaces and places and people. Breaking out of and away from more familiar forms of presenting and sharing work, has not only re-surfaced forgotten powers that bodies and their movements hold, but also led me to new discoveries, possibilities and potentials. I’ve been re-invigorated into a new certainty of how important it is that we have the opportunity to know ourselves in body, personally and socially and politically.

I’ve had a longing for this. I can highly recommend putting the familiar into unfamiliar places.

To Avoid Falling Apart

Currently touring with the Travelling Gallery is TO AVOID FALLING APART a commission in collaboration with artist Emmie McLuskey.

I love this work, loved making it and love that it is being shared in many and varied nooks and crannies and unexpected places along Scotland’s East coast. Art is taken to people on a bus, a bus that’s been travelling the length and breadth of Scotland since 1978. What a good thing. And for a similar 40+ years, since I was a student in the late 70’s, I’ve been teaching and sharing a way of moving that is fundamental to my practice – the finding of the reciprocal act of counterbalance, a weight bearing and weight sharing, between two or more people. This is movement that belongs to us all, its significance has been renewed, and how it speaks to the politics of today is profound.

Here’s a wee bit from the Travelling Gallery website:

 “Both artists share an interest in how we live together, how we experience our moving bodies in society and how we communicate outside of spoken words, honouring the body as both the root of experience and as a potential route to change. The politics of support are intertwined in the actions and the artwork and through the work they question how we are allowed to move, what and whose movement it is we value and where the body and its movement are placed in the hierarchy of Western cultural norms.

You can read more about it here.

Weathering Well

In February I was invited to contribute to the WEATHERING WELL course unit with students of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape on relationships between body and buildings

“Body / Movement workshop led by choreographer, Janice Parker, considering tectonic expressions of support, touch, rhythm, balance, poise, ground, tension.”

A small part in a much bigger field of study but an exciting one that drew parallels between the weathering of buildings and human ageing. It felt deeply relevant to bring students into a direct experience of their body and its movement and to invite them to consider their physical selves as a fundamental knowledge base that is in a constant reciprocal relationship with landscape, the built environment and the materiality of things. Thanks to Fiona McLachlan for the invitation.

Not Brittle, Not Rigid, Not Fixed

My 2022 Edinburgh Art Festival commission NOT BRITTLE, NOT RIGID, NOT FIXED which was part of the Channels programme now has an accompanying publication. As part of the live work I invited three witnesses – landscape architect Suzanne Ewing, and visual artists Audrey Grant, and Mathew Arthur Williams – to accompany me on different days over the two weeks in August that I created the work. The publication is their response, along with a fore-word by long-term collaborator, and Channels commissioning artist, Emmie McLuskey.

Inspired by the thinking and writing of Sociologist Richard Sennett Not Brittle, Not Rigid, Not Fixed is an exploration of the dialogue and reciprocity existing between the body and its movement, the spaces and places we build and how we live there. For me Sennett speaks directly to the politics of the body and things that I hold dear – how and where are we are allowed to move, how do we know ourselves in body, what movement do we value, what if our movement practice was free of the marketplace, what if we were opportunist movers, and how do we know a place and feel that we belong?

This is just the start of something

You can find out about it here.

A small part in a much bigger field of study but an exciting one that drew parallels between the weathering of buildings and human ageing. It felt deeply relevant to bring students into a direct experience of their body and its movement and to invite them to consider their physical selves as a fundamental knowledge base that is in a constant reciprocal relationship with landscape, the built environment and the materiality of things. Thanks to Fiona McLachlan for the invitation.

Castle Lennox

And in Theatre land I was movement director on CASTLE LENNOX with Lung Ha’s Theatre Company. A superb work written by Linda McLean based on her experience of visiting her Uncle in the 60’s in Lennox castle Hospital, Scotland’s largest institution for learning disabled people. An important powerful story that needs to be heard and the power and politics of it being told by a company of disabled actors. The sell-out run is over now, the four and five star reviews are in, and Castle Lennox needs to be see again.

A collaboration with Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre.

A small part in a much bigger field of study but an exciting one that drew parallels between the weathering of buildings and human ageing. It felt deeply relevant to bring students into a direct experience of their body and its movement and to invite them to consider their physical selves as a fundamental knowledge base that is in a constant reciprocal relationship with landscape, the built environment and the materiality of things. Thanks to Fiona McLachlan for the invitation.

The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart

And finally, THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENTIA HART is currently playing in The McKittrick Hotel in New York city following a tour in the States.

I love this work and have been movement director with it since it began in 2010, this time shared with the brilliant Jack Webb. It’s a show that just keeps on giving. If you haven’t already I hope you get to see it sometime.

Here’s the link.

Enjoy Spring everyone, a waking up from needed slumber and fallow time, of growth that’s bursting into bloom



Posted in News

Haud the Gither

Another new year has dawned

We’re all of us a year older, if we’re lucky enough, fortunate enough, privileged enough, to have made it this far. Something to be celebrated, and knowing that, feels like one of the joys of growing old.

Like most folks, at the turn of the year resolutions were made, roots of resolve, to bring more, better, into being. There’s no doubt there’s much that weighs heavy and needs changing in us, in society, in the world, and for us, society, and the world.

Here are mine:

  • Be the change – not always possible, but attainable in lots of ways and important to aspire to
  • Slow down – the world goes too fast and demands too much, find simplicity, sufficiency, sustainability, degrowth, more open-ended time, and time for deep care and care-fullness
  • Haud the gither and haud oan tight – hold together, hold onto each other, work for the greater good and the common good, we need each other
  • And, to bring these all into body and into being – how we move and why, swim against the tide at times, share practice, be responsive, work alone, work with others, the small things count

May these reveal themselves, and act as guides and anchors, in this up-and-coming work:

  • Not Brittle Not Rigid Not Fixed : a publication resulting from work with Edinburgh Art Festival and the Union Canal, last August. With contributions from responder/witnesses architect Suzanne Ewing, visual artists Audrey Grant and Mathew Arthur Williams, and commissioning artist Emmie McLuskey. An invitation to sink more deeply into our cities, and to move differently within them and within ourselves.
  • The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart : by David Greig and Wils Wilson. An absolute gem of a show, full of life, spirit, soul and a big touch of magic. It’s been on the go for 12 years now and about to embark on another American tour. What a joy to be Movement Director, and to bring dance artist Jack Webb into the mix as associate in this gloriously physical show.
  • Castle Lennox : my last but one pre-covid commitments. With Lung Ha Theatre Company. Written by Linda McLean. Part of Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre’s current season. An important social political story, one that couldn’t be told 50 years ago. What a thrill to be working with the company again and with MJ McCarthy on music and song. There will be dancing! Catch it 30th, 31st March, 1st April
  • To Avoid Falling Apart : a co-commission with artist Emmie McLuskey made especially for the Travelling Gallery on the experience of finding counterbalance between us, and creating physical reciprocal acts of connection, support and interdependence. Emmie and I share an interest in how we live together and how we experience our moving bodies in society; asking what might happen if we led with our movement and our ordinary/extraordinary human bodies. Touring with the gallery from 10th March to 5th May
  • Weathering Well : Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture as part of the Architectural Design: Tectonics course that draws parallels between human ageing and the weathering of buildings. I’ll be offering a workshop and lecture discussion and really look forward to collaborating with the students. I’m as passionate about shifting perceptions of ageing as I am about movers and movement
  • Daily Movement Practice : in the park or on the street, alone, with others, with the weather, with the land, with the buildings all around us. Some you will find on twitter – @janicemparker – as a way of sharing practice and a gentle invitation to move in the ways that makes you feel good. We all have the right to deeply enjoy the sensation of moving with the fullness of our physically intelligent selves and to experience freedom in our knowing bodies. It’s all there for the asking #WinterDances

Here’s to resolve and a good 2023 for us all, that brings into being, in some small way, change for the better. Happy January everyone, may you enjoy the light in the dark


Posted in News

The Turning Time of Year

I’m writing this on Winter Solstice, the ‘shortest day’ in the Northern Hemisphere.  As a lover of dark and quiet, I never quite feel ready for the return of daylight. On saying that I know that January and February can be hard months for many folks and the winter can take its time unfolding into Spring. If you are one of these folks, I hope you have your ways of finding light, not least in leaning into one another, for company, conviviality, a laugh and a wee cry when it’s needed.

For me these dark days are a time for reflecting and coorie-ing in to what’s been and changes hoped for.

Late Summer and Autumn have been quite an adventure. I feel both lucky and blessed to be movement director for Medea in the Edinburgh International Festival, and, for The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart in the Fringe. The former a new work emanating from ancient thinking that potently speaks to our times – power and politics of course, and where women are placed within that and the choices and sacrifices one woman makes. A magnificent visceral work, with a brilliant cast and creative collaborative team; and the latter, an old favourite brought to life again by a new cast and rehearsal time that allowed for curiosity and discovery. I’ve been working on Pru for over 10 years now and she has a very special place in my heart. This time around I was able to share the love and bring in Dance Artist Jenna Corker to work alongside me. Jenna brought new eyes and fresh perspective to the mix and Pru shone as bright as ever as a result. I love the opportunity to share practice, open doors and pass things on.  Thinking of that on Solstice, when the Earth’s turning imperceptibly tips in the opposite direction, feels apposite.  It’s so important to invite change in.

In late August another adventure awaited – a commission from the Edinburgh Art Festival, as one of four artists, invited by artist Emmie McLuskey as part of her Channels programme, to make work in response to the Union Canal. I moved daily for the final 14 days of August along the tow path of the canal, making my way to Wester Hailes and back again. Through the work, titled Not Brittle Not Rigid Not Fixed, I fell in love with the canal, the land and the life that surrounds it, affirmed the need for slow in life, connected movement and body deeply to land and landscape, both urban and wild, and emboldened my belief in the value of chance encounters and unexpected combinations. All of this through direct experience and in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. The experience sits deeply in my bones and feels like the start of something. In the new year a Not Brittle Not Rigid Not Fixed publication will be available, sharing more depth about the work and with contributions from witness/responders architect Suzanne Ewing, visual artists  Audrey Grant and Mathew Arthur Williams

My Autumn has, to say the least, been full of slowness and stillness. I had Covid in October, which still hasn’t fully left me all these months later. The need to be slow and still, feels so out of kilter with ‘the outside world’, as I am want to call it.  We seem to have speeded up enormously in our desire and excitement to be back together and to how we knew things pre-lockdown. I’ve been reading Gavin Francis’s gem of a book, Recovery. In it he talks of the lost art of convalescing, of rest as an action and of the necessity of time. Recovery is this and so much more. I highly recommend it, and being out of kilter with the norm. A time of living in synch with the self. Slow walking, slow dancing, slow living. Savouring. Staying close to home. Slow and steady.

Winter Solstice is a time of change. Change may be hard, but it is the way of things. The world needs change right now, we all know what and why. There is change for the good, change for the bad and change that’s been foisted upon us. It’s hard to know how to respond, or react, or even survive. So, let’s aim for change for the good, supporting each other on the way. I’ll leave you with the words of Grace Lee Boggs, that came to me via my friend Chris Erskine, “In our bones we sense this is no ordinary time. It is a time of deep change, not just of social structures and economy but also of ourselves”

Wishing everyone comfort and warmth and a smattering of joys this Festive Season x

Posted in News

Back to Work and Ordinary Human Bodies

On 1st February, Imbolc, the midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, one of nature’s thresholds, honouring Brighid the Goddess of the hearth and this year a new moon, I decided I had to embrace the notion of “being back to work”.

I’ve been finding myself reluctant, full of reticence, daunted and dragging my heels as we move into, adapt and respond to this next phase of pandemic living.

I loved lockdown living. I realise how lucky I am to have experienced this, but I’m an introvert and an HSP (check out The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron) and for the first time in a long lifetime, I felt a sense of living in my own time. A matching up of the cultural societal rhythms and of me. I became more creative, more proactive, more responsive and more deeply connected and collaborative in my arts practice and in my way of living. I laughed a lot and felt liberated. I literally caught up with myself. I also rested (which I desperately needed) and I slowed. Deep lockdown was such a strong frame to respond to, collaborate with and be held by. I felt safe and sure in my choices, responses, learnings and contributions. I scraped by financially and I made new, unexpected, work that took me by other ways and means into a whole different world of moving and thinking, understanding and awareness. One always there in potential but a stone as yet unturned.

So, of course, I wanted to hold onto all of that, not lose it, or give it up.  But the reality is, that time has gone, and rightly and thankfully so. My dilemma of not wanting to go back to how I was working and living before was being fed by hiding, ducking down and procrastinating. Daunted though it feels I simply just need to do it – go back to work, even though I never actually stopped. It’s a conscious stepping forward and into, taking these new ways and findings with me.

Like many artists, my work is an active engagement with the now, with people, politics, places, with what’s on the doorstep, in the world and on the planet. A process of observation and noticing, a set of values and ethics, accumulated experience, and particular knowledge, that is all processed, like deep research, filtered through body, movement and mind in order to make meaning and a contribution, so we can get by on a daily basis as well as making a better world for us all and for the world itself.  I’m up for sharing anything that helps.

So, on a day of a new moon, of gathering together around the hearth, I felt I could step over the threshold offered by Imbolc, and can’t wait to get on with it.

Here’s a good start : Ordinary Human Bodies

Launched on Feb 1st as part of In Conversation With… a series of podcasts by 4 artists commissioned by Fair Access and CPP at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to engage, in conversation with students from both Fair Access and CPP courses

“conversation as an artistic research tool, as a way to nurture, as a way to better understand, share knowledge, make sense of the world, and a way to more deeply understand a subject position beyond our own”

Find out more and listen here.

Thanks to :Bishop Down, Gudrun Schmidinger and Tabitha Dearie for talking about what matters to you

And to Amanda Aitken for recording and edit

And here’s the ‘getting back to work wall’ of what’s to come

Posted in News

A New Years Gifting

Happy New Year everyone.
Here’s to a 2022 full of joys for us all
strength and resilience too, no matter what it might throw at us
We can do it!

I love winter, and the dark
So, I always feel I get off to a head start and am lucky

I love the hush of the town
and the land
the silver light of the sky
the sometimes fierceness of the weather
telling me what’s what and keeping me in my place

And moving, lets keep moving
the deep sensuous vibrant feeling of being in motion
not the exercise type (since when did exercise dominate our understanding of what movement can be?!)
but a way of moving that taps into what the body already knows
and that is there simply for the asking
awakening, expanding, growing our physical selves
So, in the dark days of the next few weeks, which I know can be hard for lots of folks
You might want to join me in moving outdoors

WORKSHOPS : An Hour In The Park in Company in Winter

Outdoors, in Holyrood Park, in Edinburgh
(I can also travel within the city to your park or back garden – let me know)
Weekly if you can, but fine if that’s not possible – come to one or come to all

Connecting to body and movement
Connecting to land and weather, tree and sky, stone and earth, overhead and underfoot
Connecting to each other

Socially distanced and small numbers
For everyone, particularly folks who might feel daunted or nervous

We will laugh and enjoy finding the exuberance in our beings
have fun together, alone and with nature
go at our own pace (and our own pace differs on different days)
learn stuff we can have with us forever
Your body will love you for it
feel and stretch and shoogle and strengthen
develop capacity in your body and its movement
in your physical intelligence and knowledge
strengthen and stretch
You will be guided and supported and we will support each other
experience nature through your body – the properties of it and the properties of you
in nature, as nature, with nature
You will dance with a tree
and share (a big wide open) space in the company of others

There will be no counting and no measuring
leaving space to focus on the sensation of being in motion
and the joy of movement
expanding, not forcing


If you’ve an inkling of interest, even the smallest stirring, contact me through this website or DM me on twitter @janicemparker, and I’ll contact you with possible workshop times and to answer any questions


In response to the times we are living in these workshops are gifted
so there is no charge
You might want to gift to a charity in exchange

Also, if you know of anyone who might like this, then do pass it on

And please be aware that you will be participating at your own risk

And I’ll finish how I started
Happy New Year everyone.
Here’s to a 2022 full of joys for us all
strength and resilience too, no matter what it might throw at us
We can do it!

Janice x

Posted in News

From One Year Into The Next

Looking back over this past year and adding to/updating my far too long CV (by that I mean I have a compulsion and a need to list everything, to write everything down. If I don’t do that, I forget and it flys away. If I write it down though, I can savour it in my being) 

This year has held much more than I realised it had done. In a very different way, more quietly, more local yet with a wider reach, and more responsive than ever to people, place and circumstance.

It’s been tough, for so many of us, but the ability to adapt and respond resilience has been breathtaking and moving.

I feel lucky too and privileged, for I have been in a place that has let me discover much and find new ways forward, ways to contribute through dance and the body that are relevant and resourcing. 

It’s essentially about care, connection and connecting, support, well-being, loving our differences as well as our common bonds, and finding these deeper energetic, feeling and imaginative places that the arts can take us to. 

Here’s to a New Year full of joys for us all. We can do this

Posted in News

Small Acts of Hope and Lament – A live shared solo work

I was recently invited to offer a performance intervention as part of
Turbulence / Emergence / Enchantment:A Compendium of Climate Literacies
at Cove Park. It was a potent, powerful and resonant thing and I thought to share my introductory notes as a flavour of the work

Introduction and Invitation
To a live sharing of
Small Acts of Hope and Lament

It exists in the encounters and connections
the explorations and discoveries
and is not a performance as such
but a witnessing,a recieving and a gifting.

What is between the land and the body
the properties of it and the properties of me
the invitations of the land and the weather and the sky, the body and the tree.
An outdoors on-going daily live practice
quiet and private and some of it shared

I have a need to move every day
and a love of moving
a need to onnect inwards and inside.
Moving is my language, my thinking, my feeling the way I connect with the world
and how I know that I am here, now.

I am offering that possibility
as a way of being in the world.
A love of the land, the weather, the sky.
The overhead and the underfoot
and all the space in-between.
A passion for the freedom to move in green civic spaces, our urban parks, and our wilder lands.
A way of tending and nurturing
places and spaces of connecting and belonging
places and spaces that belong to us all.

A private, quiet, personal connection
That is simple and there.
No fuss, no bother, no equipment,
neither commodified nor commercialised.
Just working with and being with what is
here and now in the land
and here now in the body.
Taking care, treading carefully
responding to the moment without censorship
or judgement of oneself.

What does it mean to move outdoors in nature in this way ?

To sink deeply into the natural non-human world to feel its grace and presence and power.
To tend and nurture
be tended to and nurtured
to care and respect.

This is not my land, it is a place that allows me
to visit & revisit
to have conversations with its nooks
and crannies and nuances.
It remembers me and I remember it.
Sensing into the land and into mother earth
a way for me to feel my strength
my gentleness and my tenderness.
A place where I can process and be how I feel.
A place to rage and roar and cry and delight.

We have these extraordinary bodies.
What does it mean to move In the full volume of our glorious bodies?
My life’s work has been to challenge
and question who is allowed to dance
and what dance can be.
Whose bodies and what bodies are valued and acceptable?

I believe we need to reclaim
our movement language
our innate, inherent knowledge
and sentient intelligence
our natural born right.
The poetry of the body.
The joy of moving.
To experience and to know that
removed from the commodification of the body and its movement
away from the body as part of the marketplace.
To de-stabilise and de-centralise
the grip of dance
as a set of steps to learn
and excerise as the only way to health & fitness that values certain bodies over others
and exists in a hierarchy of movement style
and attainment,
where we value and aspire to one over the other.
As if there is only one correct and right way.
There is so much more.

A reclaiming of the body and its moving
as a quality not a quantity of counts and steps and miles and measurements
as something to be conquered
driven to beat its own personal best.
And to come to know and love the body
as a feeling, sensing, messy, ageing, articulate, alive, spontaneous, responsive, sentient,
source of intelligence
and knowing
and being.

This isn’t about me
it is about what I discover as I journey outside.
It is slow time, deep time
a dialogue and a place where
and a way of
feeling welcomed and known,
never alone
always remembered.
A place of refuge that is so much bigger than me and full of awe and wonder

A deep, intimate, playful,
informative relationship and dialogue
with what is out there in the land.
Connecting deeply, experiencing deeply listening physically
feeling and discovering
a deep respect for nature.
A way of knowing through the senses.
As I get older
I feel and know the age of the land better
the land that will be here, I hope
long after I am.

So let us dress warmly.
Meet me out on the deck.
There is nothing arduos about what we are about to do
it is simply a chance to be with the night

We will follow the path
work with the lights that are there
you might not see me
merging in,not dominating or standing out.
Come quietly with me.
Walk and stop and watch
Breathe and be with.
Feel the ground under your feet
Feel the weather and the sky
Take lots of care
Take care of each other
This is your journey too

Through the gate

In-between the lights – the dark space

On the rocks – balancing and counterbalancing – standing tall – the strength of it and the strength of me – jumping and landing

On the path – tread carefully with no sound

Light 3 – the softness of the grass & the softness underfoot – flow movement & lying in the grass, breathing & heartbeat

Between the lights – the dancing path and/or feel the weather and/or a jump and a shoogle

Light 4 – a rest in the ferns – lying and rolling over

Light 5 – crouching with bird arms

Light 6 – the edge of the fence to counterbalance with – holding me up – and see the mushrooms

Light 7 – the swinging tree – can be climbed – branch on head the same height as me – connected to earth and to tree

Before the bridge – big shadow – cockeral hat – play

Bridge work – lie on the bridge on my back – look at the sky – touch my face on moss

Light 8 – the pushing tree – stronger than me

Through the gate – running back and forth – feel the rising quickness of breath

The two stones – footsteps to balnce on – shoes of rock

The kissing tree – tracing the edge of the roots with hands and with face – balancing on the edge – the branch of balance – gently squishing the moss and nestling in

The amazonian tree – climb high – climb strong – be held in its arms – barefeet

Images                    Emmie McLuskey

Posted in News

Not Going Back to Normal

Here we are in Autumn 2021. A time of change and creating anew. A chance and an opportunity to work and share and live and be differently. Exciting and unsettling at one and the same time. My constant resource is my on-going daily live practice in my neighbourhood park in Edinburgh, and at times now in other nearby outdoor spaces and places in our gorgeous glorious land. I have found a real home, place of connection and belonging, a vitality, spark and hope for the future in this way of working and connecting to myself and the land and the making and creating of my art. What started as a shy twitter post saying ‘hello out there’ in the depths of the Covid19 pandemic lockdown to connect with others, and also a desire to make visible the wonders of what I was discovering in the connections between body and land.  This was my way, as a choreographer and facilitator of people and their movement, to share and to encourage. Who knew at the time that it would lead to so many things. Have a read of SMALL ACTS OF HOPE AND LAMENT in the WORKS section to find out more, and please get in touch if you are interested. There are films to be screened, workshops to be had, conversations to be shared and both big and small performances yet to be created……

SMALL ACTS OF HOPE AND LAMENT is fundamentally about love. Love of movement and ordinary bodies, love of nature and the environment and love for what we were and are going through together.

Wishing you all a good Autimn season and the strength and courage and support to find ways through and create anew

Posted in News

On Ageism in Dance

Another brilliant question from Cultured Mongrel’s “There Are No Stupid Questions” You can find more on there work here: https://www.culturedmongrel.org/blogs/2020/6/17/there-are-no-stupid-questions

Delighted to have been asked this ‘anonymous’ question and very much enjoyed writing this response

“What are the main drivers of dance being ageist?

How can we uncouple white middle-classism and notions of what is permissible to the white male gaze, from the energy and progression of dance performance in terms of age?

Older dancers can jump too y’know.”

Ah ageism, very close to my heart. What a great question, thanks, and so much to unpick.

Here goes…a very personal perspective

We live in an ageist society. A recent World Health Organisation report estimated that one in two of us are ageist. One in two – that’s quite a statistic! And, many people reckon that to be an under-estimation. Once I started to think of age this way I began to see ageism everywhere. It is endemic, systemic, unconscious and deeply engrained and embedded into our language, behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and way of life. Quite a force to be reckoned with. I am even ageist against myself!

Looking at myself in the mirror or experience myself dancing I sometimes have the thought “I am wearing well for my age”, and feel chuffed about that, proud even, and relieved. But it’s actually really shocking. It is not a benign thing to say because embedded within that thought is the sense that there is an ideal that we are constantly measuring ourselves against, and that ageing is all about loss and decline.

We all know it well – to be old is not acceptable, to look younger is better. Older age is synonymous with reduction, loss, deficit, something to be held at bay, and we have fear around that too. We constantly do ‘battle’ with it, and affirm ourselves when we perceive a win. We simply don’t want to go there, can’t embrace it, pride ourselves for beating or conquering it. We want to anti-age, arrest it, prevent its development, and society perpetuates and mirrors this and supports us on that journey. Ageism undoubtably results from a complex conspiring weave of intertwining factors, there is a lot to understand and unpick, and this is only just scratching the surface. But it is insidious and prevalent and wraps itself around everything we do.

And then there is dance! Dance sits within this complex pervasive field and, is in itself, an art form that elevates the young and the movement qualities, skills and, by default, the aesthetic languages that only a young body can create. Dance is synonymous with a particular image of perfection, one that it has created itself and one that is also aligned to youthfulness.

Take ballet for example and its historical place in our cultural and societal history. Ballet is the dance of the courts, aligned with privilege, ascension, ethereality, heaven, gods, symmetry, thinness, whiteness, weightlessness, illusion, and non-earthly (non-bodily?!) presence, transporting us away from earthly boundedness and burdens to an idealised place where everything is good and we have no worries.

Then there are phenomenon’s like Strictly – which is all about the attainment and mastery of steps and executing them ‘perfectly’ according to a pre-set regulated form of what is right and what is best, a particular set of competencies with particular physical attributes, registers and styles. It says there are right ways and wrong ways to dance, good dancers and not good dancers. We actually laugh at people who can’t do the steps. Or we embrace them, root for them, take them to our hearts, rooting for the underdog. Perhaps we recognize ourselves in there and whilst this is a compassionate thing and a positive human attribute, we never ever seem to ask  – but why is dance only this?

Dance in its very essence, at least in our cultural understanding and valuing of it, is a hierarchical art-form that favours, perpetuates and aspires to certain aesthetic languages over others, certain body types over others, certain movement languages over others and certain styles and forms over others. Agility, speed, flexibility, athleticism and all the dazzling physical feats of monumental proportions that we all love, have all been normalised but are actually elitist and non-normative, because they are unattainable for most people and require a particular idealised physicality to attain.  Youth and the physical attributes of the youthful body is part of this, and culture, high and low, is screaming out this message of what dance should be and trapping us in a perpetual cycle that supports this hierarchy of dance.

So, it is within all of this that older dancers sit. There is nothing wrong with any of the above. All are thrilling, moving, meaningful, there to be admired, felt, experienced and enjoyed. For me, the fact that this is what is being valued is the problem, and any other form by any other body type is seen as being of less value and a lesser form of dance.

We need to start asking who can dance and what can dance be?

What is perfection?

On whose terms?

Many inroads have been made by disabled dancers who have fought for the recognition and right to have their non-normative physicality and movement vocabularies accepted as a valid dance aesthetic in all of its diversity. This has been a long hard journey and is still on-going and not yet fully accepted or acceptable in the mainstream. But undoubtably, disabled makers and performers have started to change, not only our understanding and expectation of dance, but the structure and form and language of it. In other words, the work of disabled dancers is challenging, changing and adding to what we think of as dance, and who can be a dance and also expanded what we want from dance as makers, performers and audience.

In dance, because of the presence of the body, we are always faced with a physical representation of ourselves. We don’t want to confront our own ageing. We are fearful, in avoidance, only see deficit, and decline in our minds eye and in our emotional register. Ageing is never seen as something to embrace. When do we ever say ‘bring it on, I can’t wait.’ Also embedded in there is a brush with the end of life, and as a culture and society that denies death and rarely speaks about it openly, to be faced with an ageing older body is perhaps too confrontational.

So, I think also that perhaps the ageing body brings with it its own particular prejudiced drivers.

We need to push against ingrained stereotypes, attitudes and expectations, but how?

Much of my life’s work has been about moving the vertical dance hierarchy to the horizontal plane, away from the aesthetics of sameness and symmetry towards the aesthetics of difference and asymmetry, away from heaven to earth, away from fixed ideals.

Where are the alternative images, the art that reveals and shows age as natural and the diversity, difference and individuality there is amongst older people?

We need to be aware of the politics of the practice and the bigger frame that dance sits within. Dance is not just about mastery and a fixed ideal of beauty. Age is not just about decline

We need to keep asking questions of ourselves and of society.

We need to persist.

We need to be patient.

We need to do this in our own style and in our own way – make work gently, subversively, noisily, feistily, quietly, sassily, with humour, with gravitas, with poignance, shout from the rooftops  – to excite, to empower, to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed, all of these ways are necessary and will make a difference.

And our greatest strength? Actual physical presence. In dance because the body is visible and present, the ageing body is there in the flesh so to speak. Perhaps almost too much for audiences to bear because the fear of ageing sits so deep and the prejudices and judgements are so conditioned and pervasive, but this is where the hope lies. In dance you are the thing that it’s about, we represent ourselves when performing. In this way dance performance is a radicle act, a form of direct action, a step to bringing change.

And as for, “older people can jump ye’ know”. Maybe we can start by asking do they need to? Does dance need jumps in order to be dance? As an older person of 63 I no longer enjoy jumping, certainly not in the leaping way, nor can I twirl anymore. That’s cool with me. Neither good nor bad, just how it is for me, and where my body is at.

We are all different and that’s what’s exciting.

And what I can do and love is create movement from other, new, places. We all can. I have less of some things which by default, brings more of other things – slowness, being closer to the earth, soft skin, stillness, a softness in my muscles, a presence and confidence.

It was dancer and choreographer Erick Hawkins, I think, who said : “tight muscles don’t feel”

I’ll take that!

Janice Parker May 2021




Posted in News

Being Asked and Answering

This was written as part of Cultured Mongrel’s on-going work : ‘There are no stupid questions” A pleasure to be asked and get my thinking cap on. The question (below) is asked anonymously and you can find lots more on Cultured Mongrel’s website here. https://www.culturedmongrel.org/blogs/2020/6/17/there-are-no-stupid-questions

A bit of a rambly answer from me but hope there is something there that gives some context, support and food for thought 

“What happens when young amateur dancers (those with no intention to attend college) become adults and where do they go?

Open classes exist for choreography and technique, but where’s the creativity?

Should this aspect of dance be done alone or not at all?

(I can read bitterness, sorry)”

Bitterness accepted and legitimate! Thanks for the question which I’ll circle around, and hopefully shed some light on.

First a wee history lesson. My background is in what was originally called ‘Community Dance’. I began in the early 80’s on the crest of the Community Dance wave. Leading this in Scotland were Royston Maldoom at The Arts in Fife and Tamara McLorg with Stirling Council and as director of Dundee Rep Dance Company, now Scottish Dance Theatre.

This was a big time for contemporary dance development and signalled a change in terms of participation and opportunity for ‘ordinary’ people to dance, and who were not, and had no intention of training and becoming professional. It is the bedrock of what we now think of as participatory practice or social engagement.

There’s a massive history and legacy here to be shared at some point, but that’s for another day. Suffice to say for now that this exciting and groundbreaking era laid the groundwork for much of Scotland’s Contemporary dance scene as we know it today – both community and professional practice.

There’s also some terminology to get clear on here – the distinction between amateur practice and community/socially engaged/participatory practice. Here in the UK, they don’t mean quite the same thing. The former is associated more with self-organising constituted groups or associations who organize themselves to produce art works (think amateur dramatics) whereas the latter is more about people’s right to access the arts through and with the professional arts scene and professionally trained artists. I’m assuming here we are talking about the latter – community/participatory/ socially engaged.

So, back to the 80’s. Adults were very much part of the Community Dance scene. My own contribution in parallel with Tammy and Royston was in the development of disability-led practice and the right of disabled people to be included and have access to dance. I’ve continued with this work including working again with Tammy and Royston to develop Community Dance Practice in Europe. The philosophy focuses on movement as a human right, on everybody’s right to access dance as an art-form and on the contribution people can make to current contemporary practice.,

However, even from the beginning, there has been more emphasis on youth. The legacy of the Scottish Youth Dance Festival, initiated by Tammy and Royston in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and the development of Youth Dance Companies across Scotland continues today. Adults were always in second place

I’m no expert, but off the top of my head I think there are a number of reasons for this

  • Investment in youth is seen as an investment in the future of society
  • We live in an ageist society (the latest World Health Organisation report concludes that 1 in 2 of us are ageist)
  • Dance is a powerful educational tool that support more traditional learning, so it went into schools
  • Creativity itself is regarded as a tenant of the young unless of course you decide to train and make it your career. As if it is ‘natural’ to children but not to adults
  • And funding of course followed this thinking and artists follow the funding in order to be able to earn a living

So, part of the reason for limited focus on adults is embedded in the very history of participatory dance development, it has aye been, and youth are invested in as an investment in the future.

There are other reasons too.

There’s a split between performance created by trained dancers and performance created by community non-professionally trained participants. The latter has always been judged as lesser than, of less value, and often not as art at all. We ascribe particular aesthetics and registers to dance, then we aspire to that and judge anything else to be not as good as ‘the real thing’. Our idea of dance is in many ways very elitist. This narrow perspective of what good dance is, is also dominated by youth and young bodies who sit at the top of the hierarchy in our mind’s eye and our belief system. Community performance is therefore rarely regarded as a serious aesthetic form or language in its own right. This limits the possibilities and potential and our very idea of what dance can be and who gets to be a dancer.

In 2014 I made a piece called Glory in Tramway in Glasgow. It was part of the Commonwealth Games cultural programme. Deliberately and consciously, politically and aesthetically I wanted to involve the biggest mixture of dancers I could find. There were absolutely no auditions, all movements were equally valid and valued, as were all body types and levels of experience. Professional and experienced dancers, moved alongside first-time dancers, with ages ranging from late teens to 60’s and 70’s, both disabled and non-disabled dancers and dancers of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds all moving together. Glory was, amongst other things, a statement, cutting across this hierarchy, moving dance from its vertical hierarchy to a horizontal platform that embraces diversity and different aesthetic registers and movement vocabularies. Movement is a language as diverse and individual as people are and dance is more than one thing – it can be, and is, many things.

The same goes for how vocabulary and content is devised. I think this what is being referred to in the question – “where is the creativity?” – where the body is an expressive tool, engaged in its own materiality as a way of discovering and creating dance vocabulary.

Again, creativity, and self-expression as it is sometimes loosely and referred to, is seen as belonging to the young, and often only the very young. This working from the inside out, from sensory and felt experience, and from the imagination is very rare in standard dance practice, professional or community. This way to developing and finding vocabulary, image and story for choreography, and as material to dance with and dance as, has gone out of fashion. Dance in our minds eye has become something else, often a set of steps or a form to be ‘mastered’ and learned from the outside in. As opposed to the liberation and experience of a vocabulary that is innate and already existing as potential in each of us. Accessing one’s own creativity and body language, is, in my opinion – in fact more than an opinion, it is my working method and practice – an equally valid place from which to build and create choreography. Our attitude to and understanding of dance, popularised by TV has become a two-dimensional athletic action to be learned and mastered rather than a three-dimensional living and breathing creative act.

The instrumentalization of dance I’m sure has contributed to this. We know this well. Dance being seen as a tool to counter and support social deprivation, inequalities, and mental health amongst other things. These are important and necessary, and dance can and does in the right hands, have that capacity. We have brilliant teachers, classes, workshops and infrastructures that all have an impact and make a difference in these areas, but we also have missing things.

This way of quantifying the purpose and value of dance can take us even further away from the artistry and creative aspects of it and adds to our increasingly limited and limiting understanding of what dance can be, what it is for, and how it is made. Classes become neat and packaged, easily understood, compact, quantifiable and recognizable. And we become removed from, perhaps we even become afraid of, creativity and the potential exposure to ‘getting it wrong’ emotionally and physically.  Also, to understand and value creativity you have to engage with it and know it experientially. Only talking about it, causes our understanding of creativity to stay in the realm of the abstract and the obscure, and this further removes and reduces any sense of the intrinsic value that the creative dance process can have.

To sum up and finish, I am very heartened by this question. And “should this aspect of dance be done alone or not at all?” It most definitely should be done, and it can be done alone and/or connect to other areas of dance provision. Think of it as a radicle practice – adults contributing to dance, adults mattering and being part of building the future, creative movement from the inside out as a vital life force, an alternative to the current limiting hierarchy in dance, and swimming against the tide to offer choice and access to a way of moving that belongs to us all.

There are some good adult classes in improvisation around – have a look for them, you might enjoy the creative practice that they offer

And finally, going back to the 80’s and the time of self-initiated ‘movements’, perhaps you could think about self-organising – getting a group of you together who want to explore a similar thing and way of working, finding premises, or working outdoors and then finding a teacher who works in this way. We don’t always have to wait for our big institutions and organisations to take the lead.

Janice Parker May 2021

Posted in News

Marking The Moment


On the cusp of the first of 2021’s easing of Covid lockdown, I wanted to mark the moment. This easing allowed up to 15 people to meet outdoors for exercise. What is exercise if not movement, and what is movement but a way of connecting to our physical selves, to each other and also, new for me, to nature. The prospect of being able to stand in a big wide circle in the presence of other people filled me with a deep and nourishing delight. As I write this post we are almost at the end of this series of workshops and it has been both a privilege and a wonder. The energy of a human-made circle, even without physical contact, is a palpable and emotional thing. Being present to that and taking in the moment is visceral and profound, and gets right underneath the skin if you let it in. It feels like a liminal space and time of collective acknowledgement, unspoken, but deeply felt.

We are a small group, deliberately so, who have met for an hour on a weekly basis, to share in some of my experiences and learnings from the past year of moving, outside, with nature

I made the invitation via my twitter feed, wanting to be fleet of foot and light on administration and organisation. I have loved teaching and facilitating and bringing people into body and into a connection with nature and the natural world. I’ve found myself saying:

“feel the weather, and the surface of the ground underfoot; let yourself inhabit the open space and move into the full volume of your body taking up as much space as you can and want and need; touch the earth and touch the sky; what do you hear and what do you see; listen inside and outside at the same time; listen to your body and move in ways that you love; oil your joints; bring energy into the body; switch off thinking & judgement and move into feeling and sensing; pick a tree – what is its invitation, what capacity does it liberate in you, how can you move with the tree in ways you couldn’t move alone – a duet of sorts, what is its ask, feel your strength in its strength, the properties of the tree & the properties of you, the connection and dialogue between you and the tree, discover its texture and feel, be kind to it, say thank-you; move from functional, to qualitative, to expressive movement; know the feeling of running; the dance of the balancing of a stick on your wrist, and always, always,  feeling the weather”

Everything is an invitation and, as always for me, only if it feels good for your body in this moment. To sense inside, to physically listen and switch on your awareness of yourself moving, is to awaken the body’s natural intelligence and is a way of moving that you can have with you for ever onwards. It is yours and always has been and is there for all of us, simply for the asking. Connecting this with nature seems the most natural thing in the world. I’m shocked that I haven’t done this before now and deeply grateful to have found it. Dancing with trees! Ha, who would have thought

Thanks to everyone who came and for marking this big moment in time with our collective energy and presence. I very much hope to offer more workshops with nature in the future.



Posted in News

Small Acts of Hope and Lament

I made a series of small films during lockdown 2020/21 – see Works.

They grew out of a daily practice which was my response to living through and with the global pandemic. It was not only a response, being outdoors was the one thing that was permissible. I leaned into it as they say and found myself dancing daily outdoors in the park that I live beside.

This new outdoor practice evolved slowly at first. It was consistent and had constancy. It was always there for me during this year of uncertainty and loss, and of everything I’d known ‘till know changing. It became a lifeline and a security.

I need to dance and move. It’s not really an option. It is my primary language, and way of thinking, sensing and being in the world. If you’ve got to dance you’ve got to dance, if you’ve got to move you’ve got to move. I’d lost awareness of this simple fact. The need and economic demands to make something of it, from it and out of it had obscured that. Movement for me is simply a necessity and will always be there for me no matter what. What a joy, this daily outdoor practice was, and a nourishment and strength.

It comes as no surprise that, of course, I was also making and manifesting something. Nothing was planned. It grew out of instinct, desire and a response to what was present. My daily dancing practice was shared with others in the moment, through chance encounters in the park. Then I began to share on twitter, at first as a way to connect with folks ‘out there’ and say hello ‘I’m here and I’m okay. How are you, are you okay?’.  People liked it and it was resonating with folks and meant something. So, I kept going, sharing small film clips on twitter as a way to connect and as a way to nourish and resource not only myself but others too.

Then the opportunity came to make a series of small films. Each film focuses on something that either rose to the surface because of my daily outdoor moving or that I had been sitting with for a while – the necessity of movement and moving for us all as part of our possibility and potential, the over-commodification of our movement and physicality yet it is just there for the asking, the need for free civic space to inhabit and connect with other people as a place of belonging, the need for green space in the city as a necessity to living well, a deep and growing love and respect for the land, awe and wonder as necessary experiences, a knowing of the land because of relating to it through movement, the inhibition we feel as a culture to move freely and expansively in outdoor public spaces………and oh, so much more.

The films are rough and ready. I love that about them. They are essentially a dialogue between what was present that day in the land and the weather, and what the camera on my mobile phone picked up as it was propped on a tree or in a hole in the ground.

This personal daily practice, an essential way for me to process and respond to what is happening in the world right now, became work in the world. Quiet and unassuming, constant and consistent, both a still point and a generator. I’m keeping going for as long as the spirit is willing.


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A Year Like No Other

It has been a while. I had no intention of not writing and there has definitely been news – we are all living through it. I hope everyone is well and finding ways through. There is a lot to deal with and consider right now, and so much to learn and take in.

I can’t quite get my head round the fact that a year has passed. I have been lucky, and found ways and means to live quietly and gently and frugally, and to take stock. After working 40 years at a pace I now cannot quite believe, I have wanted to reflect and ‘lean into’ this time, to live quietly, slowly and gently and to notice, think and feel, away from anything that was close to ‘normal’ or known. The ability to rest has been a gift, as has experiencing what it meant to not be swept up in and by the whirlwind of my working life, as much as I loved it at the time.

Do I even exist without my work? Is their a separate identity in there waiting to come out into the light? I am happy to say that there is both and even though these pandemic times have not all been easy or plain sailing they have been good for me, and I am glad I made the choices that I did.

So, I haven’t zoomed much, or had a routine, or any deadlines. I have been quiet and removed, living in my own time, (HSP time – I’ll talk about that in my next post) with no neccessity of creative outputs driven by the arts infrastructures, systems and marketplace to which I belong. I have however, done and achieved more than I could possibly have imagined.

Of course, I have missed people, deeply, and lost people whom I’ve had to grieve from afar.

Not least two of my dear colleagues from An Audience With…  Betty Clarkson and Doreen Leighton-Ward – magnificent women, who had both reached a great age, but still departed to the ‘Big Cabaret in the Sky’ far too soon. My last post here on the website, that long year ago, was about the future of our work together and all the potential that held. Things do change and move on, sometimes when we least expect them to.

To honour them, their work and careers, and our work together I worked with the wonderful Dominic Corr to create a website that profiles our four years of working together, and each women’s career and contribution to dance and variety theatre.

The Big Cabaret in the Sky was a term coined by June Don-Murray, another Audience With… stalwart who departed at the end of 2019, and whose legacy funded the website. I’m happy to think of them, and all their many friends and colleagues that they talked about, dancing up there together. It will be one heck of a party that’s for sure.

The rest of  the troupe, Marie Duthie, Katie Miller and me are very much looking forward to the party we will have on this earthly plane, as and when we can. It will also be one heck of a party.

There is a lot more to post about the past year and what’s to come, but for now, I’ll leave you with An Audience With…  website: an-audience-with.com

I hope you enjoy

Take lots of care and stay safe

Janice x






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An Audience With… aka. The Kitchenettes

First post of the new year and much is on the go.

An Audience With… is off to a flying start and a new chapter. We are ‘on the road’ and currently meeting in each others homes and dancing in the kitchen. Our new name for ourselves is “The Kitchenettes”! We are also working on a big funding application to enable the women, their lived experience and knowledge of Variety Theatre and physical embodied knowledge to become available as an archive of national significance. Watch this space! In the meantime we hope to make another podcast or two that involves some other dancers from the Variety Era. Will keep you posted on this. In the meantime enjoy this wee video clip of Marie Duthie and Libby Daye,  in the kitchen of course !

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The end of a year and the start of a new one

There is always much to share and never enough time to share it but suffice to say it has been a busy, unexpected and good year. Unexpected because, unplanned opportunities emerged and all of them with good people. Here is one of them. It’s European. It’s with older folks. It had no auditions. It connected with stone and rock and time and millennia and movement and the body and hopes for the future. Here’s to all of us connecting and creating a better future.  As James Hutton founder of modern geology said “The future is constantly being created in the present”.  All the best everyone for 2020

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Autumn Glories: National Galleries Scotland | Amateo | Toronto Festival of Authors

It’s November already. Oh, how I love the dark days and the golden leaves that fall. A definate time for coorie-ing in and hopefully some catching up on what I now call ‘the back-log’ of the list of things to do and people to contact which seems to grow and grow and grow. Apologies if you are on the list but we do, we really do, all of us, work too much.

It’s been busy of course. And here is a wee snap-shot of JPP’s late summer and early Autumn.

September began with ‘Writing The Body’.  A delicious and glorious piece of work with the National Galleires of Scotland responding to and immersing in the writings of Bridget Riley. Following an open call, 17 people, some brand new to dance and some experienced (I love a mixture) were able to commit to the process. They were great. We went deep and we went fast, making work in only 6 evening rehearsals for a sold out public sharing on 18th September.  It was such a privelege to work with these dancers and with Bridget Riley’s work. Here are some rehearsal images


Next came ‘Don’t Look Back’,  a 3 day workshop process with Amateo – a European network supporting and developing community and participatory arts. The focus was art and older people and how brilliant it was to be working with 14 older folks from 7 European Countries, sharing their wisdom and experience, physically and intellectually.  Collaborating with fellow artist Luke Pell, 350million year old Arthur’s Seat and geologist James Hutton’s concept of deep-time were our focus. Along with film-maker Tao-Anas Le Thanh we, together, made the short film ‘The future is constantly being created in the present” to be released shortly. Here are a few photos in the meantime

And here is one of the wonderful Jim Tough, from Amateo, and me presenting the film at Voluntary Arts, Epic Awards in Edinburgh


Finally for Autumn was “Playing with Books” as part of The Toronto International Festival of Authors, working with Miriam Toews book ‘Talking Woman’ scripted by Linda McLean and directed by Orla O’Loughlin. We originally did this for the Edinburgh International Book Festival and The Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre with a cast of brilliant Scottish actors. This time we had equally brilliant Canadian actors and felt the spirit of all 16 with us in the room. It’s a really important book, a privilege to be part of and the world need these women’s voices. Some photos

There’s more. But that’s enough for now



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Sharing August in October

So, we are in October already. It rains as I write this, and Edinburgh glistens. I’m unusual in that I love both the rain and the dark and always feel more settled and at home in these kinds of days. An introverts paradise is how I think of them. However time does fly, work continues to blossom and here is some info on the three shows I worked on way-back in August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe and The International Book Festival.

The Basque Showcase at Dance Base in the Edinburgh Fringe went well. Earlier in the year I spent a week with Proyecto Collectivo HQPC in Donostia-San Sebastian mentoring and supporting them in their preparations for Edinburgh. After 3 days of Fringe performances they went off renewed in the politics and practice of their work, having made connections and contacts that will support and sustain their future, and were  also renewed in their sense of cultural identity and where and how it overlaps with other spaces and places. A wheelchair using choreographer, Maylis Arrabit,  is a rare phenomenon indeed. Bravo to Dance Base’s Morag Deyes for programming this diversity in and amongst an already gloriously diverse programme of work. It was a pleasure to be a small part of it.  Here we  all  are  after  the final  rehearsal  in San Sebastian


I also had the pleasure of witnessing musician Rowan Rheingan’s performance of “Dispatches on the Red Dress”. A few months earlier Rowan and dramaturg         Liam Hurley had invited me to spend a couple of days working with Rowan on the movement and physicality of the newly-forming show. I’ve started to language this work as facilitating artists to become embodied and emboldened – to discover and bring to the surface the movement language that they are searching for, a language that already exists somewhere in the body but is as yet undiscovered, unknown and sometimes hiding itself from the limelight. Anyhow, this was Rowan’s first piece of gig-theatre and I’m delighted to say that this self-funded bold and passionate adventure went on to win a Scotsman Fringe First Award (and also nominations for The Carol Tambor ‘Best of Edinburgh’ Award and the Filipa Braganca Award for Best Emerging Female Artist.) Thanks to the wonderful Karine Polwart for connecting us.

The next and final August sojourn was to work with the ever amazing Linda McLean and Orla O’Loughin on Playing With Books, a partnership between the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Linda adapted Canadian author Miriam Toews’ novel ‘Talking Women’ into a stage play and together with 8 stellar Scottish actors, directed by Orla we worked together over 4 days  to create a sold out public sharing of the work in the Spiegaltent at the Book Festival. The book is tough, harrowing and ultimately supremely hopeful. Based on true events, ‘Talking Women’ is a testament to women and their means and mechanisms of survival and contribution to the world. The author has given each of the women characters a deep and particular gestural and movement language which is why I was there, supporting the understanding and embodiement of  its place in the overall work and in each of the characters. The world needs these women and I’m delighted to say that at the end of this month Linda, Orla and I are going to the Toronto International Festival of Authors to repeat the process and this time with 8 Canadian actors.

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Scotland Goes Basque


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KW Berlin – unexpected connections

SO great to share this and to have been a small part of making it happen and bringing it into being, thanks to the brilliant Emmie McLuskey and 1973 – Archiving The Live. The traces of 40 years of practice continues to make unexpected connections

To: my future body

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What to do with all the photos…

Truth be known I’m not so good at all this social media and putting things out in the world stuff. I’ve just this minute published a post from a few months back that I’ve only just realised had gone unpublished. I have a very brilliant web-site creator – Richard Cross of  Controlx – who  patiently teaches me the same things over and over again, and keeps hearing me say the words I’m going to be working on the web-site soon!

Anyhow I guess I’m working on it now, in this moment. What has struck me is the inconsistency in all the posts under works – the amount and type of information available, the quality of the images and all the work that is missing. I see this as a reflection of what resources were available at the time e.g. I have no digital photos prior to 2003 (although my iphoto library does register something as 1923!?) and hardly any photos at all prior to that. The images used are very poor quality screen grabs from film footage. My iphoto library also shows me that my first good(ish) phone camera arrived around 2009 when the volume of photos in my library becomes abundant.

Also affecting the amount and quality of information and imagery in each works post is the resources which surrounded each of the choreographies and projects. Often work with non-traditionally trained dancers is not particularly valued or well resourced so there is literally no budget for a photographer or photos. When I started working in Germany a lot around 2005 developing Community Dance with Royston MaldoomTamara McLorg, Mags Byrne and Suz Broughton our work was really valued and starting then I have an abundance of very gorgeous photographs of the work and the people in it – those glorious dancing people.

The question is – what to do with them all? I feel I owe it to the dancers and the work that they made to have their photographs live in the world somehow


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It’s Been A While….

It’s been a while. Truth be known I find it hard to keep up with all the social media outlets and as a natural introvert am never quite at ease writing and posting. But the folks and organizations I work with and collaborate with deserve it. So here’s a wee update on An Audience With…

An Audience With… at the Festival Theatre is going strong. These women, professional dancers from the Variety Era are strong and feisty! We dance regularly, teach tap class, run a workshop for a local care home and are working with the Festival Theatre on their archive – naming the performers in the photographs and bringing life to the acts in which they performed. Bear in mind Marie Duthie, Doreen Leighton-Ward, June Don-Murray and Betty Clarkson are aged between 86 and 98 and know, or performed in and with, many of the acts on the playbills that line the walls of the Festival Theatre. It’s exciting, heady stuff!

We also had a visit from Jackie Dennis, Scotland’s first pop-star, what a generous and gracious man he is, with many a story to tell. It was a pleasure to meet him

And we are looking for TAP SHOES – any size, style, colour, condition. If you’ve a pair going spare please hand them in to Festival Theatre STAGE DOOR or contact me directly. We want more folks to tap without fear and with joy and style !



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Working On the Website – updating, trimming and contemplating its purpose

So, at last I’m giving some priority to sitting down and reacquainting my self with the website. I hope to be working on it over the next few months, up-dating its content, trimming it down and thinking about its point and purpose in these times of overload and need to be known on-line. I think for me the website is a way of acknowledging and recognizing the people, the partnerships, and the collaborations that I have met and worked with over the years. And perhaps it is a way of knowing the shoulders we stand on. I do know that if the website exists at all then for me, it will have to be detailed, accurate, nuanced and personal. Talking of shoulders we stand on here’s a video of  An Audience With… Variety Era Dancers Doreen Leighton-Ward and Marie Duthie, aged 86 and 95 respectively. I am privileged to know and work with these women. We recently had well over 3,000 views for a slightly longer version of this video on twitter (@janicemparker ) and are quite overwhelmed at the response to one of our regular Monday gatherings at Edinburgh’s, Festival Theatre. Enjoy!

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Creative Scotland RFO funding statement

Hello everyone,
Firstly we at JPP want to thank everyone for their support and concern – overwhelming in the best of ways and very, very appreciated. Thank you. We are currently reflecting on and working out what no longer being an RFO means for us and our way of working. We will keep you posted as we develop and change.
A wee word from Janice:
Thanks folks for all your support and good wishes – they really help and mean a lot! It is certainly a tumultuous time and I feel saddened, shocked, perplexed and concerned. I am not talking about me specifically or us at JPP here, though we are certainly in the mix, I am talking about the bigger picture of our cultural landscape, our sustainability, the simplicity, complexity and suitability of funding structures for all kinds of artists, our diversity, our development and how we move forward from this point. I will be, and am, addressing this on many levels.
There are questions to be asked and actions to be taken.
We are an incredible nation of vibrant heart-full, diverse, intelligent, responsible and very accountable artists, with a worldwide reputation in participatory arts, disability-led arts, children’s theatre and work with older people. I am really proud to be part of that landscape, culture and heritage. We need to work together to nurture, maintain and continue to develop this. Lets do it…..
I am also delighted at all the good news held within the 2018-2021 RFO ‘portfolio’ – Go for it ! x
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Saltire Winners’ Presentations

We are delighted to share these presentations from our two Saltire Society Bursary artists – Aby Watson and Julia McGhee. What’s been exciting for us is to witness how both artists, as a result of the bursary, have moved into unexpected places and directions and have also developed the participatory and community aspects of their practice. Dance and people – nice!

The bursary finished at the end of 2017 and we wish both Aby & Julia much luck for the future. Look out for them!

Aby Watson Presentation (PDF)

Julia McGhee Presentation (PDF)

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An Audience With… at Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Pic Greg Macvean 

We are at capacity for our three shows of ‘An Audience With…‘ at the Empire Rooms at Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Janice, June, Doreen, Marie, Daisy and Katie are ready to dance (and chat!) on 21, 26 & 28 October. Read all about the project here.

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New Board Members sought

We are looking for new members to join our Board of Directors.

We welcome applications from individuals with a variety of experiences and backgrounds in:
– dance world;
– small arts organisations and their strategic development;
– artistic participatory practice;
– marginalised and under-represented communities;
– D/deaf and disabled people.

Full details here.

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Janice Parker: Disabled Leaders in Dance

In November 2015 Janice began work on a mentoring project in Barcelona aimed at supporting the professional development of local disabled dancers in choreographic practice. The project is led by British Council Spain.

Janice reflects on the project in this extract from Disability Arts International: “The politics of my practice lies in the area of ‘who and what is not yet valued, why is it not and what are we missing because of this?’  When the British Council invited me to lead this nine-day workshop aimed at supporting the professional development of local disabled dancers in choreographic practice, I thought this was right up my street… the start of a new revolution,  new voices and visions,  investment in the next generation of innovative, provocative dance-makers, aiming for excellence… I could go on.

“Ten dancers signed up. We began with questions about choreography.  We talked about the politics of disability-led dance and where it sits in the world currently and historically. And we looked at each person’s kernel of an idea as the start of an enquiry, as an investigation and as a deep desire to make and create dance.  It was a process, not of training as such, but one of sharing and exchange, a dialogue and collaboration that unfolds, where the emergent choreographers were authors from the start.

“The vocabulary, because of the bodies creating it, was deliciously diverse and innovative. I witnessed people work deeply and thoroughly into their own movement possibility.  Some of that vocabulary was breathtaking and hugely exciting. Some of it was funny, or politically pointed.  My belief is that dance needs these new vocabularies. We need innovation in form and function. Art is not and never has been in its essence, something that has stood still. Diversity and difference in body types, languages and vocabularies of movement, and in life experience bring with it the potential for deep innovation, radical challenge and a development of current contemporary practice.

“For me, what was particular about Barcelona, was the sheer number of disabled dancers attending the workshop,  along with their confidence in and awareness of the landscape of their own bodies. They are hungry and on fire, ready to go further into choreographic practice and thinking, and to take risks. There is also real potential, and interest, within the city and its cultural organisations to further develop the existing infrastructure, resources and opportunities for these emerging choreographers to continue on their journey.  Through sharing practice, politics and experience we can do this on an international level and on a local level at the same time, building partnerships and working collaboratively together.”

You can read the full article from Disability Arts International, here.

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Unlimited Emerging Artist Commission

We are thrilled at the news that ‘One Way Or Another’ by one of our Saltire Awardees, Aby Watson, has just been announced as one of this year’s Unlimited Emerging Artist Commissions. Congratulations to Aby, and we look forward to what’s to come next. We are so glad to be able to support her on her journey.

You can find out more here: http://weareunlimited.org.uk/commission/watson-one-way-another/

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Professional Development Workshops with Garvald Edinburgh

Here’s a taste of our recent professional development workshops with performers from Garvald Edinburgh. Janice said of the workshops:

‘We so need to value what these performers bring to our studios and stages. Thanks to Edinburgh Festival Theatre and all who contributed.


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Performers needed for new work

Aby Watson, one of our Saltire Society Bursary recipients, is currently on the search for fellow dyspraxic performers to take part in her new work called ‘One way or another’. There’s more information about the project and the call out at the link:


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1973 at Glasgow Women’s Library

In February, Janice was joined by archivist students of St Andrew’s University, who expressed great interest in the 1973 archival exhibition at Glasgow Women’s Library:


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Glasgow Women’s Library: Reflecting on Working in Public

Influential feminist artist Suzanne Lacy visited Scotland in 2007, and invited sixteen artists, theorists and curators to form an intense, unique learning space entitled Working in Public. Records of this gathering found in Janice’s archive are the starting point of a discussion between Adele Patrick (GWL), Janice and other Working in Public participants about creative legacies and feminist archiving, as Glasgow Women’s Library celebrates its 25th anniversary.

1973: Reflections on ‘Working in Public’

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A day of conversation at City Art Centre

Some pictures from our day of conversations around 1973 – Archiving The Live, in the stunning top floor gallery at City Art Centre, with a sun-drenched Edinburgh as the backdrop.

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Janice in Conversation with our Makar Jackie Kay

In January, Janice was joined by our Makar Jackie Kay, at City Art Centre (Edinburgh), to discuss Janice’s archival exhibition 1973, and Jackie’s own archive and on knowing the present in objects of the past…


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1973 – Archiving the Live opens this week

Don’t forget, our exhibition 1973 – Archiving The Live opens this Wed 18th January at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre. Come and peruse Janice’s collection of 44 years’ worth of memorabilia in the 5th Floor Gallery. Engage in some great chat with Janice about what the archive means to her, and to you, whilst enjoying stunning views of the Forth. If you can’t join us in Edinburgh, then catch us at Glasgow Women’s Library 30 Jan – 11 Feb.

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