Highly acclaimed dance theatre company Thick & Tight bring their dazzling best-of show, Tits & Teeth, to Blackpool Grand Theatre at the end of the month as part of the brand-new Queer Amusements festival. We catch up with Daniel Hay Gordon and Eleanor Perry, the duo behind the show.

Conjuring up apparitions of Winston Churchill, John Cage, Elaine Paige and the inimitable Grace Jones amongst others, this dazzling retrospective of outrageously funny dance-theatre exemplifies Thick & Tight’s distinctive and inventive style. Tits & Teeth celebrates high and low art in all its variety, splendour and stupidity, with blistering choreography and an immaculate soundtrack.

Thick & Tight is co-directed by Daniel Hay-Gordon and Eleanor Perry, with their choreography influenced by ballet and contemporary dance and incorporating elements of queer performance. The company continually investigates a range of LGBTQ+ issues and figures, its link to dance, and is passionate about promoting queer culture, accessibility and anti-elitism through their craft.

Hiya both – how are you doing? How excited are you to be bringing Tits & Teeth to Blackpool?

Hello! We’re both doing great, on a roll from doing lots of different projects this year, as well as touring Tits & Teeth, a collection of best bits from our back catalogue. So thrilled to be ending the tour and starting the summer with this show at Blackpool Grand – what a huge treat for us! We’re so excited to be gracing this famous stage and grateful to Queer Amusements for bringing us along.

Can you tell us a little about the show and its performers?

The show is a collection of short works which we’ve been making for the last few years. Each work is a performed portrait of a famous or infamous person. We (Danny and El) perform in it as a double-headed Barbara Cartland (a notoriously garish and unashamedly misogynist romantic novelist who dressed head to toe in pink) and then in an imagined meeting between modernist composer John Cage and musical theatre legend Elaine Paige; a pair of very avant garde West End Wendys. The other works in the line-up are made to showcase some incredible performers. Oxana Panchenko (Michael Clark Company, BalletBoyz) performs as Rasputin, in a disco ballet with a big surprise… Vidya Patel (Sadler’s Wells Young Associate, BBC Young Dancer), stars as Winston Churchill in a fiery work about Tory immigration policy. Azara Meghie (Ray Young, Talawa) embodies Grace Jones – one icon inspiring another! And Danny Smith, fabulous artist and disability activist, is prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn, looking stunning in silk. We’ll all be giving it everything!

How did you meet? What made you start up Thick & Tight? How long have you been working together?

We met in 2006 when we started training in dance at Rambert School. Thick & Tight started in 2012 when El made a short solo for a scratch night and Danny suggested turning it into a duet. It was all very low-key, mostly rehearsing in the kitchen. We needed to give ourselves a name for the programme – Thick & Tight sprang to mind based on some filthy joke we’d been making each other laugh with at the time. We never imagined we’d still be going as Thick & Tight all these years later…

The show is coming to Blackpool Grand as part of Queer Amusements – what queer work inspires you? What else shouldn’t we miss as part of the festival?

Lots of our work is based on queer artists and figures from the past – we often look back to see how people dealt with being marginalised then, and think about what we need to do now to keep things progressing when there’s still so much threat to queer existence, especially for trans people at the moment. We’re about to start making some new work called Natural Behaviour, working with lots of artists and communities to look at how the natural world is weaponised against marginalised people, when really nature is as queer and diverse as anything. Queerness for us means being aware of all the different ways people are othered and oppressed and taking responsibility to be active against all kinds of bigotry.

We’re hugely inspired by the community of people around us who also make queer work. Lots of them are our nearest and dearest, people we’ve got to know over the years and want to be alongside for years to come.

If we lived in Blackpool we’d be going to see as much of Queer Amusements as possible! Out of what’s coming up soon, we wouldn’t miss Krishna Istha’s workshop on 11 July at The Old Electric and would beg, borrow or steal a ticket for STUNNING! – An Alternative Drag Pageant in the Autumn. Both sound like a real treat!

What else are you looking forward to getting up to in Blackpool?

Chips, charity shops, Funny Girls and seeing Blackpool in all its pride and glory!

Thick & Tight: Tits & Teeth comes to Blackpool Grand Theatre on 28 June, 7.30pm, £15.50/£12.50. Tickets available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk and www.queeramusements.com

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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