Clothes, textiles and making a mess

25 June 2015

Last week we spent 5 days beside the seaside at Pavilion Dance South West researching a new work for children with the starting point of ‘getting-dressed’. I’ve always love fabrics and textures (and to be honest, for a while it was a toss-up as to whether I wanted to choreograph or make things!) so this work is a chance for me to dive into a world of texture again. Working with visual designer Sarah Booth, we bought 10 bags of clothes from the ‘rag man’ in Croydon and spent 2 days looking at different images we could create through movement. There were so many – I ended up with a list of 26 and picked 8 to work with for the week. With three dancers, Keir, Ellen and Aimee, we explored lots of movement possibilities with different clothes ; dancing with shirts that looked like invisible friends; flying into coats; a three headed monster; a sequence to put on as many t-shirts as possible; and of course making as much mess as possible.


We were lucky enough to have some visual artists join us during the week to draw our rehearsals. It was lovely to see the images they captured and give a different perspective to the work as it was being made. I thought I’d share a bit of what they did.

*The first 3 are from Harriet Webb, last 2 are Jan Roe

Thank you so much to Arts Council England and Pavilion Dance South West for letting us start playing.

Creating and sharing a new work

30 May 2015

Teachers is a project I’ve been interested in starting for a while, it stems from a desire to understand more about why people become teachers – where their passion or lack of it comes from.

My mum has been a teacher for 40 years; I’ve helped in her classes and prep-work, watched her teach and even been taught by her. When I was 16, I decided I wanted to become a choreographer. I had a passion for movement; it made me feel good, it challenged me and watching/discussing dance invited me to think and be involved with discussions I would never otherwise have had. I was adamant I didn’t want to become a dance teacher – I admit that that path felt like it would be failing. Failing to do the thing I really wanted to do.

However, more and more, I’m realising that I want to inspire people to dance together or on their own, enjoy movement and use their bodies to express themselves. That’s a sort of teaching isn’t it – as desire to inspire others? I just do it in a different way (ie. not in a classroom). 

So this brings me to Evolving in Conversation, a project by Brighton Libraries with South East Dance. This project, with a huge theme, is important: 'How can an individual change society'. I was drawn to it, wanting to find answers and participate in discussions with other humans. It felt to me that I had an answer; teaching. Inspiring, supporting and sharing knowledge is how one individual can change society. Of course I’m not suggesting that everybody suddenly becomes a teacher, but it felt like an answer to share and I wanted to do it through movement. Evolving in Conversation gave me the opportunity to start to delve into the world of teaching, to interrogate the aesthetic of a potential show, to talk to people from Brighton about their views and for them to help to shape my work.

I took part in one of the workshops where we tested out my ideas for a participatory ending – I wanted to ask people questions and physically see their answers. It was a lot of fun; it involved the body, mind, smiles, and communication with others in the room. I’ll always be grateful for the input of that group and look forward to sharing and shaping the work with others as it develops.

Open Audition for Male/Female Dancer

22 February 2015

Monday 16 March 2015.

We are looking for 1 male or female dancer with the following qualities:
• Excellent devising skills and confident experimenting with ideas
• Excellent improvisation and contemporary dance skills, a willingness to learn and expand choreography
• Comfortable collaborating; friendly and approachable
• Good voice skills and confident interacting with audiences
• Preferred - experience performing shows for young children
• Preferred - experienced in both theatres and non-traditional settings
• Willingness to dance on real grass, puppeteer a fake-worm and get mucky during performances!
Applications from people from diverse backgrounds encouraged to apply.

For more information go to: audition.pdf

Some Notes from Alex

01 July 2011

Today we solidified the ball timing to much giggles as the afternoon hit us and we bounced on the balls thinking how great they would be for couples counselling – the sight of your loved one bellyflopping on a giant silver ball would surely resolve any quarrel…

I worked on my solo today with the build up – trying to fit it as much as possible to the music. During the run, it felt very rewarding to do. I am really excited about performing it alongside the installation and also seeing the film that louise will film.

The project really is turning into a journey through Bourne Hall. When we were rehearsing today in the foyer, passers by were immediately quizzical and enthusiastic which really is a good sign; raised eyebrows and ‘go on, join in!’

Rehearsal 27th and 30th

30 June 2011

With the second week well under way, the focus has been on the intricacies of the movement as well as beginning to see how the whole piece will work together. In our rehearsal on Monday 27th June, I took in costumes that I had gathered over the weekend including ball-gowns, tunics, trousers and while lace tops! I was lucky that the dancers liked my taste in the costumes.

Also on Monday, Charlie Morrissey, my mentor through the South East Dance ‘MentorBank’ project, came in as an outside eye to help. It was really useful to have someone else to talk with about the choreography as a whole. I was having trouble with choreographing the opening sequence on Bourne Hall’s stairs. Together Charlie and I were able to talk through what it was that I wanted the audience feel through watching the opening, and ways that we could use the particular space of the building as an advantage. Using the visual images from the stairs, the dancers improvised hand movements that we put together into a quirky gestural sequence. It was nice to see that these movements attracted attention from passers-by more than in previous rehearsals. This was very encouraging.

On Thursday, we rehearsed through all the movement in order to mark through a whole run of the piece. It lasts about 40 mins! It was very useful to do a whole run so that the dancers could feel how long they would be performing for, and so that I could start to know how the piece would need to run technically, including how to use the portable PA system I had just bought and where we would need stewards to help with costume changes and holding doors.

Two sections of the piece use large blown up fitness balls, and this has also prompted a lot of interest from passers-by. We’ve had quite a few inquiries about joining the class which I’ve had to decline! Working with the fitness balls has been a challenge in itself as they tend to have their own agenda. It will need a lot of practice for the dancers to get comfortable moving with them. The other problem is dancing on the grass!

Rehearsals Start

21 June 2011

I’ve been working with 3 professional dancers for two days now, Jessica Walrond, Helena Webb and Alex Hemsley. We’ve been very lucky to have our rehearsals in Bourne Hall and have been working hard on the many sections of the piece. Here’s some comments from the dancers:

Helena –

Surprisingly difficult to dance on carpet…and stairs… and a lumpy lawn moving backwards.
I suppose that’s why we are most often in theatres instead.
Must remember right arm with right leg on lunges down stairs.
Rosie gives us lunch, that’s why we love her…and her creativity, organization and managing skills.

Alex –

Walking down stairs in blue ballgowns
Walking on walls with an octopus behind
A many tendrilled thing, morphing
Paper and lightness;
Sore legs and carpet burn
Three dancers meeting,
One choreographer working
Homemade bread and second hand dance!

The work Starts: Isle of View

20 June 2011

I’ve been working with Make-it (youth), 2HD (adult) and iID (intergenerationl) for 3-4 weeks now and we are working well on different sections of the piece. Each group has their own section that will be performed in a different part of the building as well as an end sequence that will be performed together.

Isle of View

16 June 2011

Isle of View

Isle of View is my new choreographic project that involves an intergenerational cast making a promenade performance for Bourne Hall on 9th July as part of Epsom Contemporary Artists Network’s (ECAN) summer festival. Inspired by the artworks presented in the festival two youth groups, one adult group, an intergenerational company and 3 professional dancers  are working together to make a magical mystery tour that walks the audience through the exhibition in the building and grounds. Keep up to date with this blog to find out about our process together.

Last Performance

12 March 2011

Our last performance happened on 11th March at Salfords Primary School in Redhill with Anna, Hannah, Peter and Adam.

Well done to everybody involved in Share the Word – you have all done amazingly! We hope to perform again as a full company, so watch this space…

West Byfleet Junior School

01 March 2011

Today we did two full company performances: one at West Byfleet school in the morning assembly and one at ASSEMBLE as part of Woking Dance Festival’s community dance platform. The performance was received really well at West Byfleet school and our 4 younger dancers were very pleased with themselves for having danced in front of their peers. Well done to them!
The evening performance was also great – but a shorter version. For this version we just did the music stand and microscope sections and did not have any film. It was very different performing without set or films – but lovely to see it in this context.