Dance artist Julie-Anne Long meets associate MissXL for a cool drink and a quiet chat about XL’s upcoming show.
THE SCENE: Hotel Hollywood, downtown Surry Hills, a balmy summer afternoon.
THE DRINKS: Shandies for two.
JAL: MissXL you are a performer whose work fell out of favour in a time of extreme physicality…
MissXL: Was that a compliment? Dazzling smile.
JAL: I remember your days as a mover and shaker and participant in uplifting art.
MissXL looks right, left and right again.
MissXL: Thank you. Fierce handshake.
JAL speedily sips from her shandy.
MissXL: dreamily I fell from favour in an up-decade. My movement attempted to reach its former heights. In recent years I have been overtaken by fears of gravity. MissXL sips slowly from her shandy.
MissXL: In a time when youthful vigour and emerging talent is greatly valued and encouraged I find myself drifting with intent.
JAL: That’s good… isn’t it?
MissXL: Never again will I be young and emerging, though I don’t care much for a return to those times drifting away they were hard, terribly hard. But there have been harder coming back. Regrettably I find myself in a rather unfashionable spot for a dancer: I’m a submerging artist.
JAL: Yes, I see. But then you’ve never been one for fashion or trends when it comes to dance. Tell me, what of your current relationship to ‘the dance’?
MissXL: I am interested in a dance style that is grounded in the aesthetics of transgression, inversion and the grotesque. A contemporary burlesque.
JAL: A wayward attitude to dance perhaps?
JAL: Perhaps because your concerns in movement over the past years have been heading towards the miniscule, the particular, the pedestrian, the qualities of dance for which the audience must scan closely.
JAL: Tell me about your impending solo show. In making solo work, utilising yourself as the raw material, you inevitably construct a character, which is larger-than-life. The persona appears to be a composite of reality and artifice.
JAL: Your performances challenge the audience/performer relationship by being both intimate and theatrical, upfront and introspective.
MissXL: Do they?
JAL: Your performance style is both detached and on display, juxtaposing grand theatrical manners and gestures with an unnerving intimacy and pseudo familiarity.
MissXL: I suppose so but…
JAL: You appear to be interested in the slippages between different genres and styles and you enjoy employing shifting methods and changing frames of reference.
MissXL: I do?
JAL: Most of your work plays with the dichotomy between humour and sadness. But excuse me I must stop, you have a show that you need to publicise, please…
MissXL: Picture this: an evening with MissXL – revealing her Cleavage, reducing dance to a minimum as the Leisure Mistress and lurking in the streets as the mysterious Mrs Whippy in her ice cream van. With assistance from my clever collaborators the theatre space will be transformed into an intimate installation, moving from the curved walls, undulating floors, nooks and crannies of Cleavage to the hyper-real domesticity of Leisure Mistress.
JAL: Sounds positively perverse and I mean that in the best possible way. But back to ‘the dance’. Is it through dance performance that you an express yourself most succinctly?
MissXL: Well you know what Martha always said “Once a dancer always a dancer…”
JAL orders another shandy.