Downstream Garage is an important venue for what we would call fringe performance in Shanghai. It is a place where young artists can meet, rehearse and perform, all free of charge since no tickets can be sold as the venue has no performance licence.
I visited it on my first trip to China and helped then to buy a dance floor for the venue. It was good to be able to dance on that floor last week (the first time in four weeks to take Dialogue off concrete and my joints were grateful) when we performed Dialogue there. Of course it wasn’t a performance, since that would be illegal. It was an ‘event/workshop’. In fact we hadn’t intended to do a proper performance of Dialogue at Downstream since we knew the venue’s technical facilities were limited and we expected we would have already performed three times in Shanghai. However when we sae the effort that Mr Wang, Downstream’s presiding spirit, had put in to tidying the space for us (he’s in the middle of messy renovations) we felt it would be rude not to do the piece as best we could.
It was a great performance as far as the audience were concerned. The venue was full and many who were there were coming to see the piece for a second time. They even preferred the Downstream Garage performance because of the intimate focus of the space.
Perhaps for Xiao Ke and I, we weren’t as happy by the performance. I was aware that it was our last performance together and anticipating the sadness of leaving had already put some distance between myself and the work. But the audience didn’t mind.
Again they stayed for a long discussion after the show and we involved them in improvisations based on elements of the piece.
I’m proud of this version of Dialogue. Until now, I knew the collaboration was important for me. It taught me something and I wanted to share the journey that I was on with audiences since I felt the process was relevant to how we deal with difference and otherness in general. However, while I know that Dialogue can continue to develop, I know we’ve arrived somewhere solid now. Something has changed in my movement and more importantly, Xiao Ke and I have a friendship that has deepened and strengthened through our creative process.
For this, I am grateful to the Shanghai Expo and to Culture Ireland for supporting us to work here.