All The Things That We Can Do by Hamish MacPherson

In June and July 2014 I will be running a series of six open events (three at Chisenhale Dance Space) using choreographic strategies to engage with politics and citizenship through the body.

I sometimes find myself wondering whether it is really politics that I am interested in. What do I mean by politics? Something to do with how we live together; kindly, with minimal pain and maximum happiness, flourishing. How do we share what we have, do, find and create. The togetherness makes it political, and we are always together in some way. All the things that we can do.

I’m also interested in questions that are more personal or philosophical (but undoubtedly still related to politics). How can I experience life clearly; accept death; nurture personal relationships that in turn nurture me? How to be stimulated, curious, content?

Some of my interest in politics is a matter of curiosity, how do systems – of knowledge and meaning and power – work? How might I better know the invisible unconscious systems and patterns that run through things. For knowing’s sake but perhaps also for some clearer connection to the world I live in and make for myself.

I increasingly think that we are making our world psychologically uninhabitable, by design or more likely by accident through choreographies that have long wrest themselves from our control. We act on models and representations of the world that that are often far from how things really are. Important things go unmentioned, we lie to ourselves and each other, we (or more likely those who have power) set markers, ideals and norms that many or most of us constantly fall short of. And I believe that as a result we are increasingly befallen by mental illness, anxiety, depression and sickness.

I also wonder what other ways might we develop citizenship? What poetic or somatic or embodied knowledge do we need or can we benefit from, alongside knowledge of our rights and laws and history and values? All the things that we can do.

Inspired by the practices of Anna Halprin, Goat Island, Michael Kliën, Guillermo Gómez-Peña and others I wonder how might these different facilities might be cultivated, in the ways that they are sometimes by dance artists for example. (Not that dancers’ training provides some unsoiled eye on the world for the dancer is as shaped and bound by power structures as anyone; they perpetuate hierarchies in their own embodied ways.)

In practical terms I want to explore these thoughts through individual and collective social/choreographic actions. These events I am organising are an invitation to an attempt at such an exploration.

Metaphor feels like an increasingly important part in this, offering a link between the body and the social. Without looking too hard for answers, I am curious to know how the webs that run though words and actions and knowledges can be enacted and understood from within and by doing.

So each week we will work as a group with a different idea that relates in some way to bodies, to choreography and to politics, starting on 21 June with the ethics of care. We will use these as a starting point for exchange, exploration and creation; through movement, speech and writing. I’m don’t know what this will become until we do it.

But whatever we do will be ok.

All The Things That We Can Do runs from 21 June – 27 July at Chisenhale Dance Space, Shoreditch Town Hall and the University of Roehampton. For more details or to book a place on any of the events visit