Open Week: Rebecca Bligh: G.O.D.S


Open Week: BELLYFLOP has opened its virtual doors and is publishing all contributions which were submitted, throughout this week.

Rebecca Bligh: G.O.D.S

RB: What is g.o.d.s?

Glasgow Open Dance School (G.O.D.S) is a not-for-profit, voluntary run organisation that provides a space where people can learn, teach and partake in movement related workshops for free. The best way explain G.O.D.S is with our ethos…

For G.O.D.S, movement begins with the body, to de-intellectualise by listening acutely to the body; the collective body and your (my) individual body. (YES) Following feeling rather than style or technique and attempting to move from the gut, we learn together. Allowing our instinct to be our nose, leading us towards what is attractive to us and away from what is not. It is integral that G.O.D.S is physical and holistic; valuing shared learning and collective movement above individual excellence. We (you) move as a group in a continual process without pressure to ever perform or finalise. (YES)

Everyone (you) is equally welcome to contribute to the content of the workshops. All forms of movement and methods of teaching are encouraged. G.O.D.S is a non-fixed group with an intentionally non-thematic style. Our intention is to move. (YES)

Get down and get the body of a G.O.D!


RB: Who are g.o.d.s?

Gods is everyone; Everyone is a god! G.O.D.S is a member’s organization open to anyone with a desire to move, dance, learn, teach or share. To become a member you simply email and join the mailing list which means you will receive regular emails and are encouraged to get involved, make suggestions, ask questions and engage in the G.O.D.S community. Everyone is a dancer!


RB: How long have you been working together in this way?

We began in September 2011 in a community garden. Since then we have developed and grown and gone all over the place!


RB: How did you meet/ then come to be g.o.d.s?

The three of us met at Glasgow Art School on the Sculpture and Environmental Art course. Upon finishing our degrees we were all making movement related work and felt a lack in the connections between the art and dance worlds in Glasgow. The classes available to us were technique based and didn’t celebrate a more intuitive or pedestrian way of moving. None of us are formally trained dancers and found professional classes intimidating, expensive and lacking in space for discussion, so we began G.O.D.S in response to that.


RB: What were your initial hopes and intentions?

We intended to create a school that celebrated shared learning and collective experience. We wanted to pull together a community that existed across Glasgow but that didn’t have a space to gather. We imagined G.O.D.S would function as a resource as well as offering classes and that a community would grow where people have access to each others knowledge.


RB: What surprises, if any, have there been?

We always intended for G.O.D.S to grow organically and never had a set plan for how it would go. So nothing has been so surprising because we have always been open to its potential and we still are. After working for 2 years facilitating only one workshop a month, being offered a 6 week project with a physical space was unexpected, but felt like a natural progression. It has been amazing to have a home for a while!


RB: Please tell us about the current programme – who/ what/where and for how long…

For 6 weeks from 11th January to 21st February, Glasgow Open Dance School has been based in Market Gallery – a voluntarily run arts organisation comprised of 3 spaces in the East End of Glasgow. We created a resource room, which held text based resources; documents, books, a photocopier and plenty of tea; an audiovisual area with a collection of films, music and podcasts; and a dance studio, bookable by anyone, for free, to explore any movement projects, urges or desires physically.  Alongside this, we programmed 23 free movement and dance related events, including workshops, talks, film screenings and performances.

G.O.D.S ethos ran throughout the project: supporting and encouraging anyone with an interest to come and join in. We strongly believe that everyone knows something others don’t in regard to movement and given the support, can share that knowledge; learning together.


RB: Who comes/has come so far?

Lots of different people come to G.O.D.S. Some come back again and again. During this project at Market Gallery, lots of our current members came down and we met lots of new people who are members now too! YAY!


RB: How did you structure the programme/ choose the sessions/ teachers this time around? Is this how you’ve always done it?

For this project we felt that it was important to work with people local to Glasgow in order to feed back into the community. There are so many teachers doing amazing things and we wanted to support them. Some of the teachers have been teaching movement based classes for years and others were G.O.D.S members who had ideas that they wanted to try out. We tried to make sure that the programme was really varied, covering a wide range of classes, styles and teaching methods. We only asked that all the classes were suitable for everyone, with no pre-determined skill level.

We usually work intuitively. The process of programming happens really easily. Usually we have lots of suggestions from members or friends and sometimes it is just a rare and special opportunity that arises and we jump on it! We are also always researching. Especially Romany. She loves the research.


RB: I understand that G.O.D.S is free for participants – how is it funded?

YES! It is totally free! We ran for the first 6 months without money, everyone who taught a class and all the spaces we used were given in-kind. It became important to us to support those who were teaching financially so we applied for funding. We were funded by ‘Make A Splash’, who gave grants to not for profit organisations using Olympic related money. We ran using this for 18 months. When this money ran out we took a short break to apply for funding, at which point, Market Gallery offered us their space to do a 6 week project. We are now in the process of applying for more funding to continue….fingers crossed!


RB: Please tell us a bit about (what’s special about) Glasgow

Glasgow is a village city. It is big and small at the same time. You always bump into someone you know and there are always a million people willing to help you out. There is a lot of energy for doing things and people are more than enthusiastic, they are willing and active. This project wouldn’t have worked without the community spirit that is so strong here. We may be three of Glasgow’s biggest fans!


RB:  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

If you live in Glasgow, become a member of G.O.DS! If you don’t..become a member anyway!




Rebecca Bligh is a writer and editor from London. Last summer, in response to taking Zsuzsa Parrag’s Haitian Vodou dance class in Berlin, she also curated An Address to The Body, a programme of free dance and dance-related workshops, talks and research, for Bold Tendencies 2013. This interview came about thanks to Emilia Muller-Ginorio, a mutual friend and G.O.D, whose introduction also directly led to Zsuzsa Parrag’s bringing the Haitian Vodou dance tradition to Glasgow as part of the G.O.D.S programme.