Reflections on ‘A Dance At Home’





In December 2013 Dance4 asked me if I’d be interested in a new commission working with the Commission Collective – a group of ten people who were coming together to co-commission a new piece of work. The idea was to make a dance in people’s homes. I was full of imaginings about what the work could be.

My work often grows out of the relationships with the people I’m working with and from the stories that emerge through conversation. The physical detail, however this is expressed, is shaped with people’s bodies in relation to the particular spaces and materials we’re working with. My process is very much about closely responding, mining and transposing connections collaboratively with the people I’m creating with.

I lean towards work that is patient, that lets the viewer in. I try to strip away, juxtapose the familiar with the abstract and the unexpected to make something that is heightened and which ‘suspends’, enabling the feeling of time and space to slow down somehow. For me this is choreographic and is about valuing the detail of small things and finding ways to make this visible.

I met the Collective at one of their homes later in the year. It was difficult to articulate my process. I noticed it seemed hard for the Collective to picture something so non-specific, so open to so many variables. I didn’t have one clear idea so it was suggested I return to meet each of them individually and propose something more concrete.

I proposed the idea of three different events being held over three different nights in four different homes with specific combinations of people. Each event would have a different overarching feel, be created directly with the people involved and be directly informed and inspired by these first meetings.

The experience of these final pieces could only really come alive with an audience present, each bringing their own experiences and histories to bear on our explorations of home.

A ritual of coffee beans, threading wool into a frame to step into, colour, collections of shells from childhood to matchbox cars in adulthood, the camping candle, an elaborate hand holding, an invitation to ‘have a look around’, tending the fire, the twig house, sailing, a ‘home’ dance for three, don’t you want me dance, painting large, when someone dies poem, knitting, the miniature theatre, Kris Kristofferson, I see an abandoned place, travel books, the layers and layers in this room, sleeping, the snowdrop story, my son’s boots, little house big house, holding, measuring to get it all in, elephant mountain, knowing everybody in this street, leaving, this is home….

The three performances happened on 8, 9, 10, March as part of the NottDance Festival.

Now I’m home. There’s the feeling of something missing. The people. The bringing something of ideas, effort, to a point of focus to be able to truly see it with others present, is a wonderful profound thing.

It’s been a privilege to work so closely with the Collective, to hear their stories and share in their memories of home.

A little part of me is still in Nottingham.

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