Double Vision is the first live collaborative dance project between Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent (Artistic Director of Sheffield based Vincent Dance Theatre). Supported by the University of Brighton, The Basement Brighton, The Nightingale Theatre Brighton, Arnolfini Bristol and Arts Council England this research project proposed that Aggiss and Vincent explored unknown strategies, worked on equal terms, and despite their widely differing aesthetic and physical practices, searched for a new language that exposed the relationship between director and performer, between conceptual and physical simplicity, and between seriousness and humour. The results of this research were a 35 minute live work called Double Vision, followed by a provocative scripted 20 minute performative conversation titled An Audience with Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent a deconstruction and evaluation of process, and an externally chaired audience Q&A with for example Professor Viv Gardner in Manchester and Dr Gianna Bouchard in Cambridge.
This collaborative practical research fell outside mainstream dance aesthetic, provoking and posing questions around age, female beauty, form, choreographic methodology and feminist politics in dance. The work aimed to unsettle audience expectations of dance and also of those familiar with both Aggiss and Vincent’s practices. Creating a unique framework in the making process, the research was driven by feminist practices and designed to investigate a minimalist manifesto applied to dance. The work was a response to the following research questions: How can women ‘move’ as subjects within dance discourses while simultaneously being negated through their objectification in the process of representation? How can we close the gap between body and language in performance to view the body not as an instrument but rather as a site for discourse, a place for images to transform and test our objectivity? Do women in the dance world lack a certain confidence to be old, ugly, funny, radical, or themselves? Does dance have to be defined by an obsessive display of moving bodies?
In Spring 2009 Double Vision and An Audience with Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent was presented at: Robin Howard Theatre London, Green Room Manchester, Nuffield Theatre Southampton, Sallis Benney Theatre Brighton, The Junction Cambridge, The Foundry University of Sheffield, The Point Eastleigh.
Following the UK tour of Double Vision and An Audience with Aggiss and Vincent in November 2009, the Director of the newly constructed Creation Centre Eastleigh’s Domicile project, invited Aggiss and Vincent to premiere the space with a research weekend for established female artists. The invited group included: Emma Rice (Director KneeHigh), Jane Mason (Choreographer), Fin Walker (Choreographer/ Artistic Director), Ruth Ben Tovim (Interdisciplinary Artist / Creative Director Encounters / Dramaturg), Gaby Agis (Choreographer/ Artistic Director), Sue MaClaine (Performer, Writer, Interpreter) alongside 10 regional artists and practitioners. This intensive weekend provided the opportunity to debate female led practice and was framed by the following statements:
The following research questions were posed to the group for discussion; How and what kind of female artists voices are heard in the current cultural context? How do women choose to work and in what contexts? Is the central premise of a body as spectacle as framed in a theatre space, a ludicrous starting point for making work? Against what or who are you measuring your own success? How do women sustain their practice?
The results of this exercise have been documented and will frame future practice and research investigations by Aggiss and Vincent who continue to plot a means to sustain their collaboration and challenge the current climate and received notions of women within dance practice with further interventions into public presentations.
The chaotic yet natural relationship between performers and choreographers Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent creates an atmosphere which mixes profound insight and ripping humour in their fantastically tongue-in-cheek Danceworks show, ‘Double Vision’.
The show mixes abstract thought with shameless parody, as Aggiss and Vincent consider subjects such as seriousness, beauty and age, and then proceed to lampoon each concept with a wonderfully childish routine from Aggiss, coupled with Vincent’s hilariously understated observations.
The show plays on ego; the audience is induced to applaud before the show begins, and the dialogue throughout mimics that of a high-brow artistic piece, and its self-consciousness, repeated lines and exaggerated delivery imitate and mock the pretentious artificiality of abstract performance with an infectious glee. The show is laced with parody, and the juxtaposition of the restrained build up with its controlled mockery and the sudden explosion of silliness at the climax of each short scene turns quirky humour into side-splitting hilarity, seamlessly melding spoof self-criticism into outright ridiculousness. Aggiss’s and Vincent’s personalities work perfectly together, as Vincent’s carefully constructed straight-woman director controls each scene with an eerie artificiality, and Aggiss’s maverick performer springs out as a perfectly ridiculous comic fool, whilst still maintaining dignity through a well-observed show of egotism, and snapping between controlled stillness and manic energy with effortless smoothness.
The show was followed by An Audience with Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent, which, while giving a lot of insight into the show and its creators, built on the humour of the show itself, particularly with the brilliantly funny parody story of their own first meeting. Aggiss and Vincent continued to present the caricatures they portray in the show as well as their own personalities, and the similarity between the two is fantastic to see.
The show subverts the artificiality of modern abstract performance, mocking modern and classical performance, performers, directors and themselves in a way that is both profound and extremely funny. In a time when it is still relatively rare to see women being truly deep or silly, it is wonderful to see two women who do both with such infectious joy.
(May 17, 2009 By Emily Cresswell
Liz Aggiss is a performer worth seeing. Thankfully, key examples of her work have been captured on film but this can't compensate for the live experience of her peculiar exressionistic humour, which is often satirical, sometimes slapstick, and always surprising. Her work is routinely described as anarchic but this suggests disorder and there is methodical clarity in bobth the structure and her choreography and the comic timing of her own visual and spoken expressiveness.
(Graham Watts, online)
She loves performing, wants to be seen and heard, hates namby-pamby touchy-feely ‘ processes’ – thinks people should decide what to do and then do it. She, on the other hand, prefers not to perform, likes to take control, enjoys the role of director. She wears a gunmetal silver stain evening gown and heels, dyed blonde hair chignon skewered with chopsticks; whilst she wears a modest forest green wool dress, opaque black tights and sensible shoes. Meet Queens of the Night Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent, whose carefully crafted duet, magnificently performed, explores what it means to perform.
I have something I’d like to show you……And I want you to know that I don’t like people telling me what to do” says Ms. A, as she gallops across the stage, clompety-clomp, banging her drum. “Could you do a bit less,” asks Ms. V “ How small can you make it?”
In its mathematically tight structure, use of rhythm and repetition, stark utilitarian staging (desk, chairs, blackboard) and foolish props (dagger, joke hats, toy drums), Double Vision shares territory with the work of Forced Entertainment. Immaculate timing and choreographic precision we expect (and get) from these two highly experienced dance artists (But are they acting their age? Aha! Interesting question. Next…..)
It is also, surprisingly, a clown show – the humour is knowing, at times side splittingly funny and the way the two women play off each other is a clear nod to the classic clowning traditions of diametrically opposed pairings (from Laurel and Hardy to Eric and Ernie). Enterprising entertainment. Brave ladies! Take a bow, do!
(Dorothy Max Prior Total Theatre Vol 21, Issue 02, Summer 2009)
Blurred Vision is the second collaborative dance project between Liz Aggiss and Charlotte Vincent (Artistic Director of Sheffield based Vincent Dance Theatre). Aggiss and Vincent, now known as V&A Artefacts, is an on-going collaboration. The Vision Series is a trilogy of research projects driven by a feminist perspective and designed to investigate a minimalist manifesto applied to dance. The Vision Series trilogy consists of Double Vision (2008), Blurred Vision (2012) and Night Vision (2014).
“We have made something to show you, but we are not sure how much it is worth... so we are going to give you your money back"
Thus begins the latest work, made in just four days in residence at Yorkshire Dance Leeds in March 2012 during Juncture curated by Charlotte Vincent: four weeks of residencies, performances, workshops, a symposium and critical debates, programmed with an emphasis on female-led work and experimental, cross-disciplinary practice.
“I invited some of my closest working colleagues to be part of this initial programme – funny, smart women (and a few renegade men), who have something to say and a unique way of saying it. Their work is surprising, bold and intelligent. They are quiet anarchists, searching for an appropriate language to say what they need to say. They are mature, experienced makers, researchers, producers, writers, performers, dancers, managers, musicians and composers – artists whose work needs to be seen and whose voices need to be heard." Charlotte Vincent
Artists involved in Juncture included: Claire MacDonald, Liz Aggiss, Wendy Houstoun, Eddie Ladd, The Two Wrongies, New Art Club, Antonia Grove and long term VDT collaborator and performer Aurora Lubos.
Set to a repeated soundtrack of the Dance of the Knights by Sergei Prokofiev, Blurred Vision is an exploration of nothing. No thing. Nothing at all. Nada. Rien. Niente. Nicht. A cocky, clever couple, concerned with comprehensible context, conceptual clarity and the simple execution of complex content, Blurred Vision finds Vincent and Aggiss exploring the void, searching for something - anything - that can shed light on the questions 'What on earth are we doing here?', 'Why are we doing this?', 'Would you pay good money to see this?' and, perhaps most importantly, 'when will it all end?”