JAAM 28: Dance Dance Dance

JAAM 28: Dance Dance Dance, edited by Clare Needham and Helen Rickerby

JAAM 28 cover

JAAM 28 cover

Come dancing with JAAM 28: Dance dance dance. This latest issue, edited by JAAM’s managing editors Clare Needham and Helen Rickerby, showcases writing about dance, writing that dances and writing by dancers.

The idea for this themed issue came when Clare was producing a dance show, Sleep/Wake. She says, ‘Many dancers I know also write, or paint, or compose music. Many of the dance shows I’ve worked on blend different genres and disciplines to create new and exciting art. And some of the writing that I’m most moved by is informed by other art forms, including movement and dance. So when I first conceived the idea for this issue of JAAM, I was thinking about how exciting it would be to get writers thinking about dance and dancers thinking about writing, then see what happened.’

The editors were delighted at how contributors interpreted the theme laterally as well as literally. Some work is about dance or features dance, other work dances on the page, or sets up dance rhythms.

Many of the short stories, including those by Michele Powles, Nina Seja and Andrei Baltakmens, often use dancing as symbolic of life or living more fully. There are dances on stage, at weddings, A & P shows and all alone in the back yard. Mikaela Nyman’s ‘The Obituary’ features dance as a form of language in the arctic, a language becoming extinct.

As well as the dance of life, some poets have taken up the dance of death, such as Jennifer Compton’s ‘Moxham Ave’, featuring a bicycle accident, and Kerry Popplewell’s ‘Last dance’, which imagines a dance with the grim reaper that she’d rather sit out. In Vana Manasiadis’s and Emma Barnes’s poems people dance gingerly in their relationships with each other, and also, like David Eggleton and others, create dancing rhythms. In other poems, such as those by Alex Taylor, the placement of the words makes them dance across the page.

Many poets are clearly inspired by dance and dancers; Hera Bird’s three poems are from a series on Swan Lake, while Kate Bariletti’s inspiration comes from contemporary New Zealand choreographer Raewyn Hill. Barbara Strang references Anna Pavlova, while Jo Thorpe skips off with Marie Taglioni.

Take a quick turn around the floor with dancer/choreographer/writers Michele Powles, Linda Ashley, Lyne Pringle and Sam Trubridge, who, in short ‘spotlight’ interviews, share their discoveries of how dance and writing have and haven’t worked together. In her non-fiction piece Time (Step) Capsule, Jackie Davis Martin reflects on the importance of dance in many stages of her life.

Six photographs by Kesha Robertson capture the vibrancy and movement of dance in South America – her striking swirling image of a night parade in Bolivia is also reproduced to great effect on JAAM’s cover. Dance designer Sam Trubridge’s drawings – hieroglyphs to communicate with dancers – also show how movement can be captured in a static image.

This genre-crossing volume closes, appropriately, with extracts from a dance writing project by dancer Alys Longley. While the dances themselves can’t be represented in a journal, the poems and texts inspired by them are reproduced, complete with drawings, annotations and crinkles in the paper.


Editorials                        Clare Needham and Helen Rickerby

Mikaela Nyman           The Obituary

Hera Bird                        Three poems

Barbara Strang              Two poems

Helen Rickerby             An interview with Michele Powles

Michele Powles             Awake

Nicole Taylor                 Two poems

Vana Manasiadis          An Essay on Breathing, or Two-Part Harmony Ending in a Flourish

Emma Barnes                Three poems

Jo Thorpe                        Hunt the slipper

Kate Baggott                   Signs of Life

Simon Minto                  Say I am Dancing

Anna Jackson                Dancing on lego

Clare Needham             An interview with Lyne Pringle

Kesha Robertson         Six photographs

Susanna Gendall          Real Life

Clare Needham            An interview with Sam Trubridge

Sam Trubridge             Drawings for The Restaurant of Many Orders

Campbell Taylor         Good Home Baking

Simon Reeve                Home Disco

Tim Jones                      Queens of Silk, Kings of Velour

Andrei Baltakmans    Rakaia Ballroom

David Eggleton            How to Big Yourself Up

Tim Nees                        The Way She Moves

Clare Needham            An interview with Linda Ashley

Helen Lowe                   Two poems

Morgan Davie              Perfectly Right

Nina Seja                        The Raft of Dannevirke

Kerry Popplewell       Two poems

Anna Smith                   Hesitation Waltz

Jennifer Compton      Moxham Ave

Jackie Davis Martin   Time (Step) Capsule

Janis Freegard             From The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider

Linzy Forbes                 Netsuke

Lylney Edmeades       Two poems

Rachel O’Neill               Two poems

Kate Bariletti                 Two poems

Alex Taylor                    Two poems

Julie Hill                           The End

Alys Longley                  Poems from The Kinesthetic Archive Project



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