Brighton Fringe South East Dance awards winners 2018: A Night with Thick and Tight

Every year the Brighton Fringe awards celebrate performances and events that make the festival fly and in this spirit, the South East Dance fringe award champions artists who feature choreography at the heart of their work in a bold and challenging context.  Brighton Fringe will be launching the application process in the build up to the festival launch but in the meantime, we wanted to check in with our 2018 winners A Night with Thick and Tight, aka Eleanor Perry and Daniel Hay Gordon, to see how the year has served them.

A night with Thick and Tight pairs literary and historical icons in a brilliantly astute but wonderfully bizarre vignettes that manage to deliver on comedy and pathos in equal measures.  How did the idea for the show begin and develop?

In 2016 and 2017 we were commissioned by Wilton’s Strike! Festival and Dance West’s Ignition Festival to make new work. For A Night with Thick & Tight, we developed these duets and put them together as a triple bill, along with a solo we made for Julie Cunningham. As with all our work, the ideas for each piece began by imagining which characters we wanted to bring to the stage and who we wanted to pair them with. Our duets are usually comprised of two famous people who never would have met, and the imagined meeting between the two allows for anything to happen and for various facets of human nature and experience to be explored. For example, we pair Marilyn Monroe with Princess Di; though they never met there are a lot of parallels in their lives - fame, beauty, hounding by the press, unhappy childhoods, mysterious deaths. While the work allows for moments of hilarity and high camp, diamonds, kisses, a moonwalking Michael Jackson… it is ultimately an exploration of trauma and grief. Our other duet brings Queen Victoria and Miss Havisham (from Dickens’ Great Expectations) together in a teetering balance of high and low brow; the ultimate widow and the eternal bride are partners in a monstrous modernist ballet. 

The solo you both choreographed for Julie Cunningham is a remarkable work and breaks the vignettes beautifully.  Can you tell us more about the inspiration for it?

Radical Daughters is based on a real-life pairing, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Claude and Marcel were artists, step-sisters and lovers who were part of the 1920s Parisian art scene but moved to Jersey during the war and were imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi propaganda. Adopting gender neutral names and breaking stereotypes of female behaviour, they created beautiful and challenging work, but much of it was never seen by the public during their lifetimes. We felt this couple would be brilliantly danced by Julie Cunningham, an artist whose own work deals with gender and queerness, and were thrilled when Julie agreed to it. It was our first time making work as duo-choreographers for another dancer, and we researched it first with some wonderful dancers from Edge Hill University.  

We loved making this solo and are planning a series of 3 more, looking further into areas of queerness, identity and representation. 

You mentioned that you’re currently in rehearsals.  Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re working on?

We’re beginning to work on ideas for a new piece, pairing film-maker/artist/gardener/writer Derek Jarman with writer Marcel Proust, which will look at nature, homosexuality, illness, loneliness, memory, consciousness and the human compulsion to make art. We’re not yet sure when and where this work will happen, but can’t wait to start properly making it. We want to work with our wonderful friend Tim Spooner, who is an artist, designer and performer, looking more into how we can collaborate with him to make a rich visual and physical landscape

When can we see you perform next?

We’re performing with Corali Dance Company at The Place in London on 30th March. Corali is a leader in dance-performance created by artists with a learning disability and we love working with them. Later on that night we’ll be doing a turn at Duckie (Royal Vauxhall Tavern), performing as Legs 67 with our friend Thom Shaw in a Joan Collins spectacular. Come to either, or both!


Registration for the South East Dance Fringe award will be open soon. For the latest news and updates, check the Brighton Fringe website and sign up for the Participant’s newsletter.

© Rosie Powell
Brighton Fringe South East Dance awards winners 2018: A Night with Thick and Tight