research photo of the Fanclub performance 'We Are Dancers'

Fanclub Presents:
We Are Dancers

It’s an evening of the nomadic, as the Copenhagen-based ambulant collective Fanclub joins the now temporarily vagabond Dansehallenre for their latest iteration of We Are Dancers.

Published: October 18, 2017
Words: Fanclub & J.Scott Stratton
Event Link: We Are Dancers
KoncertKirken: October 23 – 24

A nomadic tendency within the context of artistry is usually a notion associated with financial instability. Everyone, not only artists, is familiar with the “starving artist” colloquialism, but for the majority of artists, it’s a reality and not just a quaint personal moniker.

Couple the increasing rental costs for both commercial and private real-estate in Copenhagen, with a need to find a space ample enough for a collective of dancers, and you have a crystal clear blueprint for Fanclub – at least that what I thought at first.

Where I was wrong was in assuming that their nomadic nature was a symptom of the two variables that every artist knows all too well – lack of money or lack of space. But in truth, Fanclub has built their nomadic nature into the core values of their collective. They embellish and use it as a tool to chip away at traditional artist working structures while alleviating the fear of creative entropy within the collective.

I’ve met with the talented women of Fanclub on many occasions, and to be honest, this interview is about one year in the making. A couple of failed photoshoots, some lost emails, and short bouts of radio silence has extended what is usually a simple process into a rather lengthy one – by no fault of either party.

In lieu of Fanclub’s recent performance We Are Dancers, I figured it was time that I pulled my head from my ass and finished the story I began so many months ago – so, I reached out to the girls and got them to break it all down for me – again.

Alright, so let’s start from the beginning again. Tell me about Fanclub?

Back in 2010, we were five female dancers who got together with a common desire to take ownership of our careers as well as to influence the local dance environment (which at that time felt slow and somewhat cumbersome). We wanted to shake traditional working and power structures within dance and art by initiating projects, inviting the choreographers and artists we found interesting and producing the work – as well as dancing in it.

research photo of the Fanclub performance 'We Are Dancers'

We started out by making some smaller, instant collaborations and events, but within a short amount of time, we started getting support from the Danish Arts Council – which led to the production of some quite ambitious stage performances. In more recent years, we’ve begun questioning this way of producing and actively exploring alternative formats for our work – as a way to survive and prevent stagnating as a collective and to further articulate our artistic values and visions.

How does the collective integrate with each of your own individual practices?

It’s intertwined, in the sense that we all bring our personal agendas and interests into the Fanclub-shaker. When we work, we’re both individuals and the collective outcome of the “Fanclub body” simultaneously. The threshold between where one thing starts and another thing ends is blurry most of the time – and therefore exciting.

As we work from the perspective of dancers, rather than choreographers, our shared passion for dance and the dancer is probably the main joining force and a generator for our artistic work.

Our current work We Are Dancers has made it apparent how we as dancers are activated by different kind of relations (with space, time, politics, choreographers, other bodies). We are mediators, and this identification is possibly the one reason why we initiated Fanclub.

In different ways, each of us makes use of the collective to flourish. But with that said, each of us is working on/with other projects and practices outside of the collective – as solo-artists, as dancers, as choreographers, as students, as women, and as human beings.

So tell me why you have chosen Fanclub to exist outside of a physical space?

We have been living the nomadic life for six years now – no office or studio. It has its disadvantages, but on the other hand, it also provides some elasticity – more specifically, the opportunity to be influenced by many things, leaving traces, visiting friends, not stagnating, and not becoming an institution.

In some way, the Fanclub “aura” functions like a non-physical space – a comfort zone, a family, a base, an energetic field, a familiar body. What is certain is that the “lack of bricks” has an effect and we are beginning to get curious about how a physical “home” for the collective would affect the work.

In different ways, each of us makes use of the collective to flourish. But with that said, each of us is working on/with other projects and practices outside of the collective – as solo-artists, as dancers, as choreographers, as students, as women, and as human beings.

So tell me why you have chosen Fanclub to exist outside of a physical space?

We have been living the nomadic life for six years now – no office or studio. It has its disadvantages, but on the other hand, it also provides some elasticity – more specifically, the opportunity to be influenced by many things, leaving traces, visiting friends, not stagnating, and not becoming an institution.

In some way, the Fanclub “aura” functions like a non-physical space – a comfort zone, a family, a base, an energetic field, a familiar body. What is certain is that the “lack of bricks” has an effect and we are beginning to get curious about how a physical “home” for the collective would affect the work.

Tell me how you’ve integrated this nomadic nature into the collective values and working structures of Fanclub?

In the beginning, we had a kind of manifest, but over the years we began questioning our own choices and methods. We realized that what we supposedly “stood for” and the structures we work within, also validated and confirmed those same structures we were trying to challenge.

But still, the core concept lingers on – we as a nomadic collective that invites artists whom we find it interesting to join us in various collaborations.

This aspect of outer-influence, which we’ve come to refer to as the “5th element”, includes both artistic encounters and social processes. Like a micro-cultural process where we invite or embrace another (or the other) and let that force shape and change each other’s language, roles, knowledge, etc.

We openly embrace the excitement of “the new,” but also the necessary antagonisms, conflicts, and challenges which become part of our continuous process as a collective and pushes us to keep on moving, questioning and re-formulating ourselves.

As most performative work is process based, allowing for the evolution and transformation of ideas and concepts, could you tell me whether the dogmas or values behind Fanclub are also subject to change? Or is it more of a brand which is more rigid in its definition?

As it is now, we strive to remain flexible in form and method, to keep making new choices, learn by doing and venture on multiple paths. We insist on being vague and soft, not being on point (but on many points).

The name “Fanclub” indeed can seem like a bit of a “brand” (and most probably started out as one), and we’ve discussed many times whether we should change it or not. But so far, we find it more interesting to keep it, stand by it, work with it, play with it and see how it changes its flavor through our artistry and time passing.

research photo of the Fanclub performance 'We Are Dancers'

You mentioned your recent work We Are Dancers. Can you tell me about the research behind it?

During the last two years, we have been in an ongoing and fragmented investigation of the dancer as a figure – in relation to social, historical, political as well as personal perspectives. We began asking questions about how we – using the “dancer” as both model and medium – could explore other forms of being and relating to the known as well as the unthinkable.

During these two years, We Are Dancers has taken on many shapes and possible outcomes – for example, a sound installation for the opening of ICE HOT platform in Copenhagen, a performance lecture in connection to Creative Lenses in Lund, and a series of open workshops in Malmö and Copenhagen.

These meetings with an audience have been central to the mapping of the dancer/dancers work and state-of-being – and has contributed to the ongoing (re)formulation of the process.

So during this fluidity of outcomes, how does We Are Dancers move from research to concept each time?

The We Are Dancers-project actually moves more between research and fluid result. In this sense, we haven’t been interested in reaching a specific answer, formulation or conclusion, but rather in creating more questions as well as multiple answers, exchanges, and experiences.

A couple of months ago we went on a residency on the French countryside together with French-American dancer and choreographer DD Dorvillier and the Portuguese academic/performer Paula Caspão. Together, we began formulating a possible vocabulary of the dancer.

This vocabulary, set in a choreographic structure, will function as a kind of generator for the work at Koncertkirken at Nørrebro. We Are Dancers – a Concert is an active universe of movements, words, and sounds, where an audience is invited to experience and take part of the work.

In addition to Dorvillier and Casão, we’ve invited the Danish composer August Rosenbaum as well as the Danish/Swedish choreographer-dancer duo POWDER to join the work at Koncertkirken.

How did this project function with “nomadic” nature of Fanclub?

This work included a process which evolved over a two-year period, working sporadically in fragments, in different places, contexts, and meetings. In a way, it has been the ultimate nomadic period for Fanclub.

This structure provided a lot of different inputs and downtime where the work simply marinated in the back of our bodies and minds – but also created a pretty demanding sense of scatteredness. This experience has definitely reinforced our need for a place/space where we can rest and gather ourselves and our work.

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