les girls les boys founder Serena Rees, in conversation with dance collaborators Ed Munro and Meshach Henry
To mark the release of free_style, a love letter to dance penned in our new season sweets, les girls les boys founder Serena Rees sat down over zoom with Ed Munro, one of the film’s dancers, and Meshach (Mesh) Henry, casting director and professional dancer.
Through intuitive contemporary dance, by professional dancers whose work and craft have been impacted by the pandemic, free_style celebrates the freedom you have to style garments in whatever way you choose.
“The idea came to me as we wanted to show that these sweats are for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you want to wear them big and baggy, tight and short, or share them,” says Serena Rees.
Serena, Ed and Mesh talk dancing in les girls les boys, the challenges the dance industry is facing, and how they feel about the future…
SR: What’s it like to dance in les girls les boys?
Ed: I loved dancing in les girls les boys. You’ll be surprised how hard it is to find comfy tracksuits that actually move well. If I look like I’m comfortable, I feel comfortable, which means my performance, my energy and engagement, is a lot higher. I hate having to battle with bad sweats, move the crotch, and tie them up constantly.
SR: What did you think of the film?
Mesh: It made me miss dance. I love when I watch something and it makes me want to go and do it, and that’s exactly what the film did. It made fashion playful and exciting, too. There are a lot of boundaries with fashion. There’s a specific way to do this, or wear that, and what you see in the film is that anyway is the best way.
SR: In the film we look at the themes of connection and interaction and how that lends to our brand. It doesn’t matter what gender you label yourself as. We believe in the inclusivity of everyone and anyone, whoever you are and as you are. How do these themes land with you?
Ed: I don’t care what the label in the clothes has, mens or womens – whatever. For example, the top I’m wearing right now is a woman’s top. Personally, I feel uncomfortable wearing mens clothes. I prefer to be whatever.
Mesh: You can tell there’s not a specific person that should be wearing les girls les boys. I could leave them at my parents house and my sister will be sitting in them, I can leave them with my boyfriend and it would be the same, and with my mum. It’s that playfulness that matches the idea that there’s no gender conforming with a tracksuit.
SR: What are some of the challenges the dance industry is facing right now?
Mesh: It’s an industry that involves a lot of people. There’s a lot of effort that goes into managing and directing dance companies. The beauty of it is the tactileness. A lot of artists work alone, they’re used to being alone, whereas we’re so used to being…
Ed: Surrounded by other people.
Mesh: I don’t know when we’re next going to be able to do that? So even though we’re still moving, things are still growing, things are still happening, it doesn’t feel like we’re back. We’re expected to go to work except the computer is gone, the desk is gone, and the chair is gone.
Ed: It’s going to take a while. I don’t want “what ifs” anymore, though. So I’m starting to create and do my own things. SR: What is your biggest takeout from this year? What have you learnt, heard, or come to realise about arts and culture, and the value they have?
Mesh: Chinese takeout? Dominoes? I’m joking.
Ed: Never take anyone for granted! Ever again.
SR: What will Christmas mean for you this year?
Mesh: Whether you celebrate it or not, most people are onboard for it. It’s important because regardless of the presents or the lights or drinking yourself asleep, you know that it’s about family and about coming together. I’m not mad about Christmas in December, I can do it in May if I want.
SR: How do you feel about the future?
Mesh: I hope that people will really be willing to understand others situations more and shift on from what once was. For the arts, how exciting that there’s been a pause. Imagine the things that are going to flood in when things get back to normal? To appreciate going to see live dance again. You normally turn it over, say it’s good, then leave. It’s going to feel so special to sit down, in a seat, next to a stranger. Ed: Super excited for that.
SR: Me too. This time has made a lot of us better and more tolerant as you say, and excited to get out there and do what you’ve got to do. To connect, reconnect, do, and be with people.
WATCH THE FILM HERE