I have been freelancing for 16 years. In the last year I have worked as a choreographer, performer (in my own work and other people’s), a movement director and teacher. I have also worked as an improviser – I list this separately as it’s something I have done without payment. I perform all these roles across multiple institutions, and I am often attending to several of these roles in the same week or even the same day.
I didn’t really understand the concept of freelancing when I was training at The Place. I knew I wanted to perform, and I ended up getting into project-based work as soon as I graduated and that’s what I still do. I think at the time my ideal life would have been to get into a full-time dance company. But that never happened for many reasons, not least that there are not that many full-time dance companies around.
As I got into choreographing a few years later, I fantasized about running a full-time dance company. I’m not sure that’s exactly what I wanted but I think the freelance life is more of a by-product of me following my interests than a desire to not be pinned down to one job.
I took a workshop with Australian improviser Andrew Morrish in 2006 and he introduced me to solo improvisation and the practice of meeting up with one or two other people once or twice a week and performing solos for each other. I have been doing that ever since, as well as performing solos to the general public. I am very grateful for my improvisation practice which I have always done without funding. It has been a relative constant in my creative life that nourishes me. It helps me see into possible futures: a post funding, post technological apocalypse, where this is the only kind of performance that is possible, or a post work, post product utopia where anyone can be an artist and life is improvised.
More and more my sense of being an artist is someone who is constantly experimenting with forms and ideas which are then free for other people to use. I think this work is essential for society to reproduce itself. And this social reproduction relies on all artists including those on the fringes, the outsiders and the amateurs. Entangled with work of artists are the people who keep the spaces for artists to work in going including the cleaners, caterers, administrators. In this time of grave uncertainty for the arts and for humanity as a whole we must find ways to come together and fight for a better world. One of the problems with freelancing is that it tends to construct as atomised individuals out there to fight for our own bit of space. The challenge is to resist this and through doing so transform the world.
Seke Chimutengwende works in dance as a performer, choreographer and teacher. He has performed for companies such as DV8 Physical Theatre and Lost Dog and has performed and taught improvisation internationally since 2006. He has choreographed four group works for his company Seke Chimutengwende & Friends including The Time Travel Piece for The Place Prize 2012 and King Arthur, which premiered at The Yard Theatre in London, 2015.
Since 2016 Seke has collaborated with Alexandrina Hemsley on duet Black Holes which premiered at The Place in June, 2018. His new solo Plastic Soul premiered at The Yard Theatre in January 2019. Seke has also worked as a movement director for theatre productions at The Yard, Battersea Arts Centre and The Gate Theatre.