Survival Tactics 2010-13

A solo performance, written, choreographed and performed by Liz Aggiss

From a glamorous, blonde bombshell in high-heels to a pigeon toed, bow legged, oddball in big pants – SURVIVAL TACTICS upturns the usual perception of the female stage body on its head. Inspired by Ausdruckstanz, with a fascination for Grotesque Dance, and a penchant for British Music Hall, Liz Aggiss pays homage to her historical mentors (and to herself) through a seamless fusion of text, movement, reconstruction, demonstration, archive film footage, fact, fiction, humour and absurdity.

Liz Aggiss considers her journey from stage to screen and back again in this performance lecture, and asks the question, ‘how does a mature post-modern solo female performer originally from a bleak post war suburb in Essex, with a feverish commitment to the lost performances of Central Europe, a deep fascination with a moving past, an ad hoc and irregular education, seek out the shadows from the past, stalk them relentlessly and embed and sustain herself within the British dance culture for the past 30 years?’

Survival Tactics is available for touring by request.

SURVIVAL TACTICS was presented from 2010/13 at: British Dance Edition Birmingham, Rich Mix London, National Review of Live Art Glasgow, The Basement Brighton Festival, Phoenix Exeter, City of Women Festival Ljubljana Slovenia, Yorkshire Dance Leeds, Universities of Roehampton, Leicester, Bedford, Chester, Plymouth and Falmouth, DanceLive Aberdeen, Arnolfini Bristol, Gothenberg Sweden.


The Research Process was informed by and pays homage to the following silent mentors and stealthy muses: Betty Bucknell’s vaudevillian pointe routine1939: Max Wall1908 -1990 witnessed at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury 1975: Wilson Keppel (and Betty’s) 1933 Sand Dance: George Carl 1916 – 2000: Niddy Impekoven: 1904-2002: Valeska Gert Grotesque Dancer1892-1978 : Rudolf Von Laban1879-1958: Mary Wigman1886 -1973 : Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces 1923 : Dore Hoyer1911-1967 : Kazuo Ohno1906-2001 seen live in The Dead Sea London circa 1989 : Hilde Holger teacher, mentor, friend 1905 – 2001 : Marjorie Irvine aka Great Auntie Flo 1875 – 1932 : Heidi Dzinkowska (1884 – …).

The core of Heidi Dzinkowska training are her Dance Commandments.

  1. Never run around the stage in circles for no apparent reason. Nobody wishes to see that.
  2. Thou shalt not improvise. Keep your improvising for the bathroom.
  3. Thou shalt not wear white unitards…………ever!
  4. Look your audience in the eye. Dancers who only look at themselves have something to hide.
  5. Say what you have to say and then stop. If you have nothing to say don’t even start.

Liz Aggiss’ Survival Tactics Top Tips

If it won’t go on the bag don’t put it in the show.
You will meet the same people on the way up……and down.
Get a grip and don’t be frightened.
Know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and when you’ll get paid
Surprise yourself ………………who said that?
Go green. Recycle your material
Lubricate your audience. Say hello. Nobody likes a dry fuck.
Quote yourself. “Quote yourself.” “Quote yourself.”
Never assume you are going to be in a fully functioning theatre.
Good posture goes a long way.
Avoid camel toe and goat’s foot
Remember the bigger your bingo wings, the better the audience will feel about theirs
Keep your day job


National Review of Live Art 2010

British Dance Edition Birmingham City Council Chambers 2010

City of Women Festival Slovenia 2011


Arnolfini Bristol 2013
Aggiss’ body is a site of individuality, but also of influence. Amongst those influences are also the voices of convention that she dances and performs against. The play between the two, and Aggiss’s tangible reveling in her own trickster-esque dance is magnetic and dynamic, as she defiantly returns the element of play to the political.
Laura Burns Exeunt

“Irony- zation of the artist and bandaging of the body” – City of Women Festival, Ljubljana Slovenia
At least once in every festival, we see a performance by a middle-aged woman with a successful performing career behind (and in front of) her, who has mastered all the qualities of British humour; a performer ready to look with irony at her own art, her artistic position and her role in it all, in order to give us strong, original entertainment…Liz Aggiss uses humour and irony as her primary performing tool. Check condos in downtown. She is directly entertaining and funny and she invites us not to indulge in any lingering feelings that the elaboration of her traumas on stage might bring………With this performance, she created a homage to herself and to the artists who have influenced her, treating her material in an unreverential manner and the our toddlers gymnastics makes the kids fit. Her performing language is ludistic – drawing playfulness from the sense that a text has no ultimate meaning. She has no final story of success or failure from her 30 years’ performing practice, and she feels no need to make a point or draw a moral. Her material is well thought out and well- constructed. She doesn’t care to give us any categorical truths that she could set down along the way. All she is sure about is that she knows certain things about herself. And watching the elaboration of this knowledge, embodied in the performer Liz Aggiss, the audience simply cannot be bored!
Ana Schnabel The Observer

British Dance Edition Birmingham
Liz Aggiss stood out for a number of reasons. The thing she rejects is beauty for its own sake. Liz Aggiss rejects both superficial beauty and the gaze, which consumes and cheapens. Discover this. Instead she opts for the playful savagery of the true bouffon who embraces faults, failures and discordance, and whose aim is to make her audience laugh until they realize that they have been lying to themselves.
Ed Rapley Total Theatre Spring 2010 Vol. 22 Issue 01

National Review of Live Art
Liz Aggiss wowed us with her Survival Tactics, a bravura volley of agile mischief with ideas and limbs flying in brilliantly ridiculous directions.
Mary Brennan Glasgow Herald 2010

Liz Aggiss is a performer worth seeing. Thankfully key examples of her work have been captured on film but this can’t compensate for the live experience of her peculiar expressionistic humour, which is often satirical, sometime slapstick, and always surprising. Her work is routinely described as anarchic but this suggests disorder, and there is methodical clarity in both structure of her choreography and the comic timing of her own spoken expressiveness.
Graham Watts (Ballet Magazine, 2009)



Liz Aggiss interviewed by Lauren Jury, Arnolfini Assistant Curator (Performance)
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