Friday, 29 August 2014

Bobbin Dancing @ Yan Tan Tethera (part 3/3)

'We discover performance by making it' 
- Goat Island performance ensemble

It’s fair to say Bobbin Dance #3 was a real challenge. With fewer dancers available, each of us danced with two bobbins instead of one. Given the complexities of working with these (i.e. winding and unwinding pairs of bobbins in time with the music) and the limited number of rehearsals scheduled, this was probably not the wisest of choices.

The dance was performed in the garden, starting this time dancing a straight hey around two rows of fencing pins, from one end to the other using sticks only. We then 'upgraded' to wooden bobbins with ribbon, and five of us proceeded to weave something close to a 'fond the torchon' stitch with our 10 bobbins, accompanied by Ben Moss on the fiddle. Sketches used as scores in the previous dances (see previous post) seemed ineffective when holding two bobbins each, so I drew up the score below.

In comparison with the two previous dances, this one seemed to be more about the handling of the bobbins and less about dancing. We forgot about our bodies and how we moved as we grappled with the mechanics of handling the bobbins and ribbons.

photo Fay McNulty
photo Faye McNulty

So where to go from here? What elements of the dances should be reworked, cut back or explored further? Should we maybe dance without thread and bobbins? Might we present the work as an installation instead of a performance and show the weaving of the piece as film (the do-si-do, passing by right and left, figures of eight, circular and straight heys, turns and crosses, fond the torchon, Brussels stitch)? Should the performance be more of a durational work, allowing more ‘fabric’ to be woven as suggested by one of the dancers? Should the music follow the sound of the bobbins rather than leading them?

So many questions needing answers... As the work was developed with the dancers, I'll now put these questions to them. I doubt we’ll reach a consensus, but we’ll then be in a better position to proceed with making informed decisions for the final performance and event of Yan Tan Tethera.  Will keep you posted on this...

Meanwhile I'll seize here the opportunity here to thank again to all the bobbin dancers who helped make this work possible. They are Chloe Metcalfe, Jess Smulders-Cohen, Julia Manheim, Odette O’Reilly, Pallavi Jain, Ruth Bradshaw, Tina Götschi, Vanessa Trotter, Vicky Harrison, Weiyee Cheung and Zoë Gilmour. A special thank you also goes to Ben Moss and Aimée Leonard for providing the music and their encouragement throughout, as well as singers from the Cecil Sharp and Dulwich Folk choirs.

No comments:

Post a Comment