Welcome to the Siobhan Davies Dance blog

Siobhan Davies Dance is an investigative contemporary arts organisation, founded and led since 1988 by choreographer Siobhan Davies.

Watch this space for updates from our artists, curators, project coordinators and participants on a whole range of our projects.

The Traces Commissions – Webb Ellis tell us about their experience so far…

Check out the latest blog from Traces Commissions artists Webb-Ellis about the first explorations into working with us here at Siobhan Davies Studios. Web-Ellis are British/Canadian artist filmmakers working in film, installation, and performance. They are currently resident artists at Crescent Arts in Scarborough. Over the coming year they will be working to create new artworks in response to the work of Siobhan Davies Dance and the communities connected to our studios.

 

Our work has long involved a fascination with the body and it is a pleasure and a privilege to be invited to journey further along this path in the company of Siobhan Davies Dance.

The Traces Commission invitation is fabulously open, and we have been able to just allow ourselves to be drawn into the conversations and goings-on at the studios.

Physical action has been our primary research method since the start of our collaboration. Usually this takes the form of an act of endurance and has included long distance running, swimming, walking, cycling and ecstatic dance. Moving the body offers a direct way to stir up the silt of the mind – unpredictable and intuitive.

Webb-Ellis, hmmmmm, still from 5 hour endurance performance, 2015

Webb-Ellis, hmmmmm, still from 5 hour endurance performance, 2015

Three, week-long, dance classes at Siobhan Davies Studios (run by Independent Dance) helped to turn our attention toward the unmapped landscape of our own bodies. Somatic Dance is dance which focusses on internal sensation – “the body as perceived from within”*. Skinner Releasing Technique with Gaby Agis was a powerful introduction to somatic dance, followed by Experiential Anatomy with Susanna Recchia, and an exploration of breath, gravity and patterns with Lauren Potter in the third week.

Each class has brought something different and special to our process, and we both noticed how much better we felt for spending some time within that dark and sensory space. Ideas are catching alight.

We have been granted access to a whole array of wonderful books about the body and movement in Siobhan Davies’ little office space. In one of them we were reminded of the sheer magic of early human paintings which depicted movement. People 13,000 years ago must have been really interested in how creatures move, or must have seen beauty in the simple acts of running and walking.

The Horse Panel, Chauvet Cave, southern France

The Horse Panel, Chauvet Cave, southern France

 

We wonder if the paintings say something about how these ancient humans sensed time? Much of the more recent art attempts to freeze a thing or a person in the present moment rather than depicting them forever moving forward in a constant state of transformation.

In the classes, moving with eyes closed among other warm bodies, attentive to the minute sensations of the body, felt like a significant shift in consciousness. The shift from the fight or flight city brain, eyes and ears ON, senses focussed outwards – purposeful, to an experience of ourselves from within, as porous beings, ageing and changing in each moment.

In Experiential Anatomy class with Susanna Recchia, we held a model skull and pulled its plates apart. We learned that whilst we were all developing in the womb our face started out touching our heart before our spine unfurled. We moved with these images as our guides, and with a feeling of the human body as something unfixed, evolving.

Human embryo at 7 weeks

Human embryo at 7 weeks

We have been warmly welcomed at the studios, and invited to bring our home on wheels with us, staying in the courtyard during the residency periods beneath a beautiful Mimosa tree. Being at home at Siobhan Davies Studios in the centre of London is a huge gift. Staying there for a week at a time gives us a strong sense of the character of the building; the way the light moves throughout the day, the little routines. During schooldays, the sound of children’s laughter infuses the whole space.

These observations are interesting as we consider how the work will be installed, and how visitors might enter the space of our installation – their state of mind and expectations. We find ourselves noticing movement of all kinds around the studios, as if the building itself has cast a spell to make even the most everyday movements uncannily visible.

The sense of dance as a language beyond words, is something that hit us right away. When two bodies meet in space it seems that there is an exchange of some kind taking place. All this engagement with Siobhan Davies Dance is peeling back a coating on our senses, allowing us to experience human movement afresh. The whole process is quite mysterious.

During the Skinner Releasing Technique class, one of the dance artists commented, “I’ve gone so deep inside my body that words just become inadequate to express where I’ve been.”

We try to translate our experiences into words, but soon realise that it is just this futile attempt at translation which interests us, the grasping and the sifting – the yearning to communicate, and to connect.

Notes taken during Skinner Releasing Technique with Gaby Agis

Notes taken during Skinner Releasing Technique with Gaby Agis

 

* Hanna, Thomas (1986). “What is Somatics?”. Somatics: Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences.

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What to see at Dance International Glasgow

This month Siobhan Davies Dance have relocated temporarily to Glasgow to present material / rearranged / to / be as part of Dance International Glasgow (DIG). The biennial festival gathers together artists, performers and collectives from across Scotland and the world in celebration of movement and dance. Presenting our work at DIG has allowed us to explore our most ambitious work to date in a new context and discover new dimensions to the work.

You are invited to join us at Tramway in Glasgow to explore the work and consider how the mind and body work together to communicate through action and gesture. There is also so much more to explore over the coming week and if you are planning a trip here our top tips for what to see at DIG 2017.

Scottish Ballet: Digital Season Pop-up Exhibition

Digital

Experience dance differently with Scottish Ballet. As part of their inaugural digital season Scottish Ballet are pushing the boundaries of ballet to explore digital realms. Through an ambitious season the company have explored ways in which digital tools can enhance or challenge a viewers experience. Explore their pop-up exhibition at Tramway during DIG.

Click here for more info

Rosalind

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Venture deeper into the modern metropolis, where conservative days turn into wonderous nights. Follow the curious and courageous Rosalind as she embarks on a pursuit of enlightenment, fuelled by love and oppression. Shakespeare finds a place in modern Britain via rising stars of dance from Korea and the UK.

Click here for more info

Listen Deep and Dance Free

Listen Deep

Friend of Siobhan Davies Dance Lucy Suggate bring her latest collaborative work with James Holden to DIG 2017. Lucy and James want to deepen the understanding of music and dance, each other as individuals and as a group, and to share that with an audience.

Click here for more info

Bizzoca/Chivas/Reid: Decline

Decline

How do our bodies communicate? What draws our bodies together? And what pushes them apart? These question will be explored by Bizzoca, Chivas and Reid in a continuously changing and transforming performance. Questions will be asked and though answers may not be found, this fluid performance will offer a chance to delve into an inner world.

Click here for more info

Brocade

Brocade

Brocade celebrates energetic alliances between female dancers and musicians. Dissecting the points where craft, physical work, history and femininity meet through sound and movement. With an ensemble of female musicians and dancers Brocade explores themes through bold performance.

Click here for more info

 

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Shadows and Light with Year 4 at St John the Divine

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For The Thinking Body project at St John the Divine, the children in Year 4 have been using their science and literacy time to explore ideas about shadows and light and how they inspire us to move. We have experimented with torch light and projections in the hall and shadows in the playground to notice the changes and distortions that occur depending on where the light source is coming from.

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We have created shadow duets and group work using the children’s new knowledge about mirror neurons and the role they play in helping us to copy movement exactly in order to learn and expand our movement skills. The children have also written acrostic poems using topic words to express their creative writing ideas and made silhouette artwork to capture the shape of their hand gestures.

We shared some of our discoveries in the KS2 assembly to celebrate the children’s 10 week journey of connecting their thinking and movement, exploring and channeling their fantastic energy and ideas.

 

‘I feel when I am dancing the amazing concentration coming through my brain’ by Yafiet

‘I felt happy because it was like all my problems flew away’ by Isaac

‘I felt so alive and active’ by Sumaiyyah

‘I liked everything because it was creative and enjoyable’ by Inayaht

 

‘We have had a fantastic thinking body experience!’ by all the children in Year 4

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When I dance I learn…

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After ten weeks in two different primary schools for The Thinking Body programme, I’m enjoying reading about the students’ reflections on what they have learnt. It was incredible following two classes over a prolonged period and seeing their individual and class journeys unfold during the weeks. Their class assemblies were a great way to share the process they had been through with teachers, peers and families, and to celebrate all they have done. Thank you for your commitment, inspiration, willingness, co-operation and creativity! Here are some more reflections from the students…

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Thinking Body Actions for Dance Literacy

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The Year 3 children at Vauxhall Primary School have been taking part in ‘The Thinking Body’ project this term and have been using their Thinking Body dance time to explore ideas for class literacy topics. Using the books ‘The Tunnel’ by Antony Browne, ‘Tuesday’ by David Wiesner and ‘The Iron Man’ by Ted Hughes, the children have experimented with creative methods of translating text into action, communicating through movement gesture and connecting their sensory imagination to their physical learning. Reflecting on their thinking bodies, here’s what they had to say…

‘I have learnt there are neurons in our brain which help us know what to do’ by Siham

‘I have learnt that there is liquid in our ears that when you turn around can make you dizzy’ by Adam

‘I have learnt how to fly in different ways’ by Rania

‘I’ve learnt how to move one side fast and one side slow’ by Abbas

‘I’ve have used words like jerky, stiff and tense to help me move like the iron man robot’ by McCkayla

‘With my partner I have learnt to be a shadow’ by Cristiano

‘I have learnt how to guide and help my partner’ by Monique

‘I am thinking while I’m dancing’ by Reehan

‘The dance has helped me with my literacy work’ by Khadra

‘I am able to make my body move stiffly like a robot’ by Ellie

‘I have learnt that choreography means to plan my duet’ by Ayman

‘We’ve learnt that our actions are connected to our thoughts’ by Abdirahman

We are going to make a film of the children’s work which will capture some of the creative outcomes to share with other members of the school community. The children have designed and collated storyboards to plan the film script.

Ellie's film storyboard
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