A few days before the first R&D performances of his new work ,’B’, we caught up with dancer and choreographer, Gerrard Martin
Who are you?
My name is Gerrard Martin; I am a freelance dance artist, currently residing in South East London. My work encompasses the teaching of young children, teenagers, over-60s, degree students, dance students and professional dancers. I also choreograph for my company Gerrard Martin Dance, and for outside commissions with various arts organisations. As well as performing, I have embarked on movement direction for actors, singers and even comedians! As part of my artistic journey I have included yoga teaching in my creative portfolio.
We’re excited about ‘B’ – tell us more about it
‘B’ is a new idea for a duet, seeking to explore the issues of being both black and gay. ‘B’ explores masculinity, intimacy, identity and being your ‘true self’.
There has been a very long history of degrading, disrespecting, disregarding and dehumanising of black people and the LGBTQ people within it (physically and mentally). Through ‘B’, I wish to present fully complex humans on stage; ones allowed to be their true selves, rather than merely conforming to lazy stereotypes. I want to unmute the voices and experiences of black gay men, by presenting them in an intimate and emotionally charged space, and creating spaces to reflect, like in the post-show Q&A.
I want to address the need for further dialogue and for that dialogue to lead to action. ‘B’ is my contribution towards highlighting and hopefully rectifying the problematic nature of race and sexual relations in our society.
Every piece of choreography I make is cathartic for me; a way to try to understand and make sense of myself and the world. ‘B’ is, by extension, a very exposing and complex piece; one which requires more exploration, as I continue to dig deeper in order to stay authentic, and to tell my story of being Black and Gay. I feel that, by my being truthful in the making and performing of this piece, audiences can examine their own stories. It a good time for me as I am a mature performer and want to challenge myself and the audience with my work. There is a paucity of Black, Gay stories in the media, film, theatre, and dance genres – ironic given the number of black gay men who work in the industry; I think it’s high time to address that!
How did you get started in dance?
From an early age, I always felt the need and desire to move and be in my body. I was an avid viewer of TV programmes such as ‘Fame’, ‘Top of the Pops’, vintage ‘MGM musicals’ and ‘The Royal Variety Show’, and was often left spellbound by the amazing performers on the screen. At primary school, I loved the music movement classes . . . and even country dancing. When I moved to secondary school, one of my P.E. teachers noticed my potential for movement, so she signed me up for a school show, and a boy’s workshop with the legendary London Contemporary Dance Theatre company. This fed my hunger for dance, and led to seek our further opportunities. While doing my ‘A’ levels I took on a Dance GCSE at night school, and did well. I then went on to De Montfort University and picked all the dance modules I could. I auditioned and enrolled into the prestigious Northern School of Contemporary Dance, after finishing my training; I’ve never looked back!
What do you want audiences to take away from the performance?
I hope audiences will be engaged emotionally, and that this piece will resonate with them. I hope they will react positively to this artistically presented version of events in my life, and that of other black gay men I have interviewed in order to present the conflict, emotion, repression, glory and intimacy of growing up black and gay. I also hope that audiences will consider how to support the process of a young black man coming out in today’s society, and that parents – and wider society – might engage with the depth of experience (both good and bad) faced by Black, Gay men.
How can they get to see it?
‘B’ can be seen on Friday, June 22nd @ 1pm and 3.30pm at Siobhan Davies Studios, Elephant & Castle, London.
Email email@example.com to reserve your place
What have you learned so far?
To listen to myself more, to judge less, to be patient, to adapt and evolve . . .
‘B’ is a part of the Pride in London festival – what are you proud of this Pride season?
I am proud of organisations such a Blackout UK, Black Lives Matter and Afropunk who maximise awareness of the diverse nature of human beings, shedding light and giving a voice to muted communities, while celebrating their history and cultures.
How can people stay in touch with your work