Saturday, 4 October 2014

Bobbin Dance #4 @ Yan Tan Tethera finale

Mad week last week, and I'm still recovering from it. Reason for the exhaustion was creating a site specific installation for the Festival of Thrift in Darlington, leading up to two days frantic making at the weekend with some of the 40,000 visitors at the festival. This happened at the same time rehearsing and performing Bobbin Dance #4 for the final event of Yan Tan Tethera at Cecil Sharp House last Thursday.

Luckily I am very than happy with the outcome of both projects, making the week's hardship -  the numerous train journeys up and down the country, the days spent stitching with the help of my lovely assistant Jake, the late nights of prep and one day teaching at University thrown in the middle of it all –  seem all very worthwhile in the end.

Bobbin Dance #4, the last one created for Yan Tan Tethera, involved 5 dancers, a fiddler, 4 wooden sticks and 4 wooden bobbins and ribbon (attached to the fiddler’s waist). What made this dance significantly different from previous bobbins ones was to have dancers lead the music as much as the reverse. 

No diagrams or graphic scores were used for developing the dance on this occasion - see previous posts. After only three rehearsals, where elements of previous dances were reworked and moves developed, I handed the written score below to the dancers. The picture above however, with the four sticks placed in something close to a windmill plait, goes a long way in illustrating the turns and crosses in the latter part of the score and I might have saved myself the trouble of writing all of it. Reading objects instead of writing scores might be the new approach for creating yet new dances... Now there's a thought!

Score for Bobbin Dance #4 (Weaver's Delight & Winding the Bobbins)

a.    Dancers walk in to the dancing area one by one, four of them holding a stick, followed by the fiddler playing Weaver’s Delight
b.    Dancers meander freely, gradually stepping in synch to the rhythm of the music
c.    Dancers form in a circle, walking equally spaced around the fiddler now standing in the middle of the performing area
d.    The dancer without the stick (dancer [A]) does a U-turn, walking in the opposite direction and weaving between the others (dancers [B] to [E]), collecting sticks as he/she passes by each of them, by left and right shoulder alternatively, and then hands the sticks back to them in the same way. This is repeated 3 or 4 times.
e.    Dancer [A] walks one final round collecting all the sticks and places them in cross formation at the feet of the fiddler and then rejoins the circle. All five dancers circle in the same direction around the fiddler.
f.     Dancer [B] pick up a bobbin and ribbon from the fiddler, unwinding it and taking position in front and to the right of the fiddler
g.    Dancers [C] to [E] follow suit, each raking place to the right of the previous dancer, spaced approximately 1m apart, forming an arc of a circle in front of the fiddler
h.   Dancers [B] to [E] each raise and lower their bobbins and ribbon to allow dancer [A] to walk underneath them for a few more rounds (Mexican wave effect)
i.      Dancer [A] then takes the bobbin from dancer [B] and starts all dancers weaving with the bobbins: a number of 'turns' and 'crosses' are performed (see previous post), with one floating dancer exiting and re-entering the set of four bobbins/dancers with each 'turn' and 'cross'
j.     Music fades as the weaving becomes more rhythmical and mechanical, eventually stopping while the dancers weave on
k.    Music picks up again, dancers still weaving
l.      Dancer [A] then collects bobbins and circles around the fiddler as the tune played changes to Winding the Bobbins
m. All circle around fiddler as dancer [A] ties bobbins around the fiddler’s waist
n.   Dancer [A] rejoins circle giving dancer [B] a cue to lead out
o.    All exit, last to leave is the fiddler, still playing
p.    Music stops, clapping, walk back in, bow and exit

Fiddler's woven sash, wound up and
ready to be strapped up again

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