voguing warm worm
words slowly swarming into a mess
a vibrant voice
roaring rhythms
inconsistent instances
metonymies metaphors stripped of their meaning
words worshiping like a sacral choreography
with the choreographic chaos on my screen
lost touch with the symbolic image
the form is the content
like the worm is matter
body takes over the sense
reified reason into a biological brain
that cannot justify why it does not care

I have written this short poem, when reflecting on the first two classes with Martin Hargreaves, who is there at Siobhan Davis Dance Studios to help us perceive the body as a vehicle for understanding writing. In the first class we touched on the idea of performative writing. How could the words we type or handwrite affect the always absent receiver?
For our first homework, in order to learn what uncreative writing could mean, I typed an excerpt from an interview with Trajal Harrell from a hard copy of a publication of his first performance exhibition ‘Hoochie Koochie’ in 2017 at the Barbican Gallery.



Quite unconscious was my choice of the text, surely influenced by the fact that the homework I got, was from a choreographer, while also in the context of studios for dance. I did not look for words that tried to represent dance, but what I was interested in, was how uncreative writing could make one embody the other’s direct speech. Considering copying a letter at first, I ended up typing an interview, with my fingers embodying two different voices in conversation, my subject being split into the one that questions and the one that is answering.

The text typed on my laptop felt extremely dry when compared with others’ copied YouTube comments or a poem on gravitational forces in the class. I tried to do some handwriting, while copying someone’s reading. I could not believe how difficult it was. I was extremely tired on that Tuesday evening, I have to admit. I surrendered my mind to my physicality. Copying others’ copied pieces felt like automatic writing, an unconsciously selective process, an activity that is not bothered with a meaningful purpose.

Just like during the task of reading while walking, the content stopped to play so much importance in understanding a text. Not that I was not interested in the content, but rather the moving body took over the conscious reasoning and responded to the affective forces of language, such as rhythm or sounding, whose feeling I can still recall in my body. From the text’s message that Julia Kristeva was trying to convey, only the term ‘chora’ stayed in my brain. This is just because of the fact that through my curatorial collaboration it has been more than a year that I have been trying to find out what ‘irruptive chora’ could mean or rather what it could be. Will the course with Martin Hargreaves conclude that irruptive chora could only be found in the innermost of the moving body that even performative writing has no ability to convey?


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Nicola Conibere at Transparencies: A Process in Company, by Siobhan Davies

For many years, Siobhan Davies has gathered photographs, texts and images printed on transparent paper. Each individual image has its own agency that allows it to fulfil its own story and set of relationships. As Davies has begun to track the connections she has made to the collection, she has also identified the potential to access further fields.

As peers have joined Davies creative process, she finds herself able to navigate the collection in new ways. A Process in Company saw Davies invite choreographer Nicola Conibere, dance artist and choreographer Fernanda Munoz-Newsome and film-maker duo Webb-Ellis to see what perspectives they might bring to her intimate creative process.

Below is Nicola Conibere’s text she wrote in response to Davies’ invitation to participate at this public event (or listen to the live reading here: https://soundcloud.com/siobhandavies/nicola-conibere-at-transparencies-a-process-in-company-by-siobhan-davies ).


It was a chilly morning when I met Sue at Siobhan Davies Studios, a building that carried her name, housing an organisation that did the same.

The fresh air was held by bright sunshine – it had been unseasonably warm for the time of year. Crocuses in February.

Sue was given to wearing a lot of neon at this time. She was like a beacon for the images, words and movements around her. And, of course, for those she already carried.

So many curves of the spine, conversations with the ground, cradling of flesh, cradling of air.

The strange beasts that hover; headless torsos that flow; jackals and dodos suspended: a series of events; tributaries searching for a stem; impulses passing across a junction; a comic strip; cause and effect.

We recalled a moment some years previously when we had each forgotten the proper names of things. I was in Rio and she was in Reykjavik. In order for us to navigate our respective environments and the organisation of our diaries, we had to find strategies for identifying things to which we needed to refer. I found a repository of Latin terms in my hamstring and drew on those, but Sue reached beyond her body. She called a carrot a shivering synapse and this was its true alias.

She told me a story about Ada Lovelace she had read in a book about physical etiquette and Wildebeest. One day Ada had gone to visit an archive and, whilst waiting in the foyer prior to admittance, the archive had fainted. It simply fell all around her. Papers, specimens, digital videos, sheets of acetate, bricks, YouTube links and a great deal of yarn. Tumbling. Surrendered. Out like a light. Apparently it took Ada only a few seconds to recognise that this event was the archive’s form. The book stated that she had returned to experience many more of its moments of collapse.

These days Sue is much more into wearing ensembles of soft pastel. She told me that it offers a different kind of join. More spongy, absorbent. Less of a tractor beam.

We wandered over dirty paving stones and slid around in our socks on the smooth dance floor of a studio.

Is that it, I wondered? We whizz across planes. Cross shiny surfaces. Spirited from one world to another. Calling back to a trace of thought I left behind and urging its echo. A skull like a jellyfish; defiant cigarettes; passing for spontaneity; passing as truth; chivying multiplicity. I saw a grid that organised a body and lines of writing underneath, and then saw fauns and people dancing somewhere behind, beyond, inside.

As I left that day my shirt got caught on a corner of a table. It seemed such a cloying image to end with: the torn cotton, one end of the thread clinging to the surface, and the other reaching into air.



Dammit. Things were finally getting better for her.

She was just coming out of her shell and now this. Escaping from the weight of art history.

Do you really think it’s related to the murders?

I hope to God it isn’t.

They warned her not to poke around, making connections where they weren’t supposed to be made.

But she has a way of joining the dots. Of layering one clue over another to tell a whole new story.

Sounds like a dangerous business.

It is.

How far has she gotten?

How far she’s got depends on how far this thing goes. We know how a pelvis can sway, how much a body can give to gravity. But what if she’s found a new way to think about natural forces?

What do you mean?

What I mean, dumbass, is what if there’s energy that lifts us from underneath? What if those animals in the caves never had a ground beneath them? What if Yves Klein wasn’t falling but hovering? What if she’s found a way to connect the phenomenal life world of the body to the whole concept of the immaterial?

Hey listen, I served on the task force that investigated those questions. An FBI profile was as close as we came to apprehending a suspect. The perp’s gonna have acetate, a white board, string and drawing pins.

If we don’t find him in the next 24 hours he’s gonna walk.

Don’t I know it. He’s gonna repeatedly fall to repeatedly recover.

Let’s think about this: Buffalo, goddess, skeleton, family portrait: I know it’s a long shot but if we can work out what these images mean we can find the body’s proper name.

It doesn’t matter. If the original narrator is still around why didn’t they come forward at the time of the crime?

I am telling you there is something going on with this cave. The last people that lived there moved out in a hurry.

Why’d they leave?

I don’t know. But I think it’s time we found out. Fancy a road trip?

Ha. Knock yourself out.

You’re not coming?

No. I’ve got a murder to solve.

I’ll come.


You believe in his crazy theories?

I do. And here’s why. Doc just called. The lab found fibres in the neck of our headless torso. It was identified as ancient tree bark and human brain matter, most likely from our killer’s metaphysical sense of self. But get this, even though they’re different types of material they take the same form.

You mean they look the same from outside?

That’s right. They form exactly the same pathways.

So we can narrow our suspects down to body people with a penchant for layering, weaving and the evolution of organic trails.

What about our gas company worker?

Well surprise, he doesn’t work for the gas company. And uniforms said there was no forensic evidence at the cave of forgotten dreams.

But what we did get from the Cunningham’s place were their copious call logs. 200 pages worth.

Looks like you and I might be ordering takeout tonight.

But whatever you find in there won’t explain Sue’s role in all this. Besides, why would she care what connects bodies that float and the gaze of a disembodied mind?

I guess we’ll never know.



The current description of Tesseract Technique is taken from the Encyclopedia of Layering Word-Body-Image-Thought. The author of this entry is not identified, however, the specificity of their references to the key concepts and requirements of the form suggest an expertise in the practice and teaching of this technique.

The key concepts of Tesseract Technique are 1. Refuse Opacity; 2. Invite multiplicity of the body as experience; 3. 4th Dimensional thought. This entry will introduce each of these three concepts and outline some of the underlying principles that cause them to vibrate with each other.

Refuse opacity

In order for the student to achieve appropriate physical alignment they must engage with their potential to look inside the structure of the skull.

From there, an ability to capture branches of thought and project their image onto the arc of the pelvis is essential.

As part of this process it is not unusual for students to encounter images of carved stone depicting figures such as: a headless goddess, a bear totem; a chariot servant; a photographic portrait.

Once appropriate alignment has been achieved the body will essentially become translucent.

Invite multiplicity of the body as experience

Tesseract Technique invites physical clarity, strength and flexibility by refusing singular form and narrative. It demands over spilling, accidental encounters and careless overlaps between a range of references extraneous to the body in its present moment and place. Through a regular practice of shuffling the spine it disrupts any singular naming and embraces fleeting images as rushes of identity that pass through and sometimes mingle in and around the body.

Students are encouraged to invite the following: buffalo to ride arteries, chairs to create flying buttresses and falling knees to propel a shivering synapse.

The way the body is held is merely a sum of how it might organise the images, words and concepts it carries on a given day.

In most cases, a given image will correspond with a given body part and so on, meaning some times the knee will adjoin a shoulder, or the wrist will extend from the ball and socket of the hip. A system of hand gestures might corrode into a staircase.

Etc etc.

4th dimensional thought

Whilst many students find the premise and proposal of fourth dimensional thought quite obvious, even mundane, it can be the most challenging of the technique’s core principles. Whilst engaging in the repetition of formal plasticity, they must thread the shimmering lies of a given image, word or memory into a projection of old school light. At the same moment, they must shift into a commitment to inappropriate alignment, embracing sensations physical uncertainty, weakness and constriction of physical and mental thought. Consequently, most students who complete this task, generally through an attitude of frivolity, will happily carry constantly multiplying threads of connection between their acetate references.

The entry ends here.




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Going Loopy

NEXT CHOREOGRAPHY: Notes from Matthias Sperling’s Loop Atlas

These are my notes taken from the Atlas Loop workshop:  the session was SO informative, I want to share it with you.

Focusing on the relationship between body and mind as a way of realising a sci-fi fictional reality.

The Loop, the cycle, the circle, that is constantly expanding- it is not fixed, stagnant motion.

The body as teacher and the knowledge that you gain from your surroundings around you.

The feedback that is taken from your bodies imprint on the floor; how does your body alter and adjust to the surroundings that enclosed around you.

“What lights up?” the central question; asking your body what it knows of itself. How can it adjust and explain to you, your minds thoughts, your movements in a particular space?

Equip with the vail of sunglasses, which acts as a mediator between the inside and outside of your body and the different spheres surrounding you. By allowing these fictional becoming, growing from the power of the loop we are able to really consider its power.

Cycles drive evolution, generative growth, its opposition is singularity.

The task made me think about reproduction a lot; about dissemination and the limits produced by a repeated process.

How does this meditate process of producing loops hark back to ideas of the solar system, of constellations, of iconography, of communication- of entrails (mediating between inside the body and exterior environments to this?

Where does the loop take you next, how does it shift?

It told me a lot about the forms of the space I was in, it made me consider the ceiling- the feedback of my body in relation to this; the feedback of technology in relation to my body. All of these things are part of an expansive cycle of circling.

You think of yourself, in that workshop, performing- communicating. Using the basis of communication, body language, to create a new society, through repetition.

My movement was mimicked and imitated by my own shadow below me. This effect made me really think about- the space, my singular movements within that, but also its very relational quality, the way that each of us where circling, creating a specific force and energy that was shared. Be that, through a similar rhythm, movement or actual closeness.

Is the line of a loop (1) is it singular, or is it made up of multiple components? There is no sense of time within this looping process and the loop allows you to completely go inside, like a black hole. Once you come out of this, you feel the physical force of leaving the balancing process of body and mind as one. As well as the balancing and sharing information of other loops surrounding you; it is chatty, expansive and inclusive.

How will science change the source of dance’s power, is the central question that we returned to following this workshop. How is knowledge consumed and where does intuition and impulse, ritualistic and fundamental motions exist within the rubric that science would demonstrate.


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Last week, I randomly came across a French movie by Agnes Varda, from 1975. I found some aesthetic and conceptual qualities close to my interests in choreography, which is why I wish to share it on our blog.

Daguerreotypes is a series of intimate portraits of the shopkeepers from the Rue Daguerre in Paris, where Agnes Varda used to live in the 70s. The pun in the title emphasises the unicity and at the same time typicality of each person introduced in the movie.

We first get acquainted with Mrs and Mr “Chardon Bleu”, so called after the name of their haberdashery and perfume shop, open since 1933. The contemplative attitude of Mrs Chardon Bleu conjugates with the quietness of the place, lost in repeated and desperately resembling days. We then meet the hairdressers, the butcher and his wife and daughter, the grocer and his son, the plumber, the baker, the concierge,…



Rue Daguerre. Paris



The daguerreotype process was invented in France and was the first practicable method of obtaining permanent images. Using a silver-plated copper sheet primarily polished and fumed to make it light sensitive, the surface would be exposed in a camera and chemically treated, rinsed and dried. The resulting image would be sealed behind glass in a protective enclosure, appearing either positive or negative, depending on the viewing angle and on the light. Daguerreotypes were very delicate and fragile objects, but also unique, due to their irreproducibility.


Ms Chardon Bleu



Likewise, each portrait in Varda’s movie is intrinsically individualised. The composure and focus of each craft as well as the consideration of the light and the decisive camera angles mirror the daguerreotypes’ characteristics.

In the first phrase, the artisans are filmed during the opening and closing of their shops, choreographed by their duties, in their casual conversations and regular activities. Soon the movie offers a repertoire of gestures. These appear as if natural and inherent to the bodies, through reiteration and practice. Each person then speaks facing camera about where they come from and when they arrived in Paris, their voices and accents adding another nuance and depth to the portraits.

In the second phrase, we are introduced to the prestidigitator Mystag, having a show in the café down the street. Each trick visually coincides with the recorded motions of the hands and tools of the shopkeepers. In an allegorical way, the dramatic tone of the magician narrating these movements lead to the glorification and highlighting of their expertise and their value for the neighbourhood.

By the end of the movie, Varda slowly unfolds a sequence of fixed traditional portraits, overtly absorbing the quality of daguerreotypes and merging all the layers which repeated actions can bring to expressions, bodies and faces.

Ultimately, this movie felt like a popular tale, based on a resolute attention to simple daily gestures and a musing pace, which triggered my interest the most.

I would be keen to probe these aspects, in the same way as Varda, calling herself a daguerreotypesse



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Reflections 15/11/17

As we move into the fourth week I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the first few sessions as Next Choreography. The last three weeks have laid the foundations for this course; in the first session we had an in-depth discussion on the definitions of choreography, and in the second session we created choreography scores in groups, taking inspiration from the methods Joseph Burrows used to devise Speaking Dance (2006). Notation, or dance scores, can be a great method to trace and translate choreographies, and it was very insightful to see how each group built on Burrows’ principle to develop unique rhythmic structures. We shared our work with each other towards the end of the session, providing an opportunity to take on honest feedback for our own development as choreographers.

At the end of last week’s session, we were all invited to participate in the work OK Future by dance artists, Lucy Suggate and Connor Schumacher. The work has toured the UK and Europe where every performance space has been different. Different participants, different settings, different movements. This idea, in part, points towards one of the questions OK Future probes at. How do social environments control behaviour? In what ways can movement and consciousness be manipulated by the presence of unpredictable, human activity? Why do we let other people mediate the way we want to move when, paradoxically, we can’t be certain how they will move themselves? OK Future looks at the inner anxieties that bodies experience when we feel socially exposed. The work challenges the existence of social etiquettes by creating an alternative performance space which does not let us conform to predetermined, behavioural codes. Very exciting stuff!

I would like to share some of my personal reflections just here. I don’t really want to divulge too much information about the piece, so if you haven’t seen it then please read past this bit. My very rough, post-performance notes include:

The illusion of the inflated silver balloon… what was it doing?
At what point did you stop caring or feel unawkward?
The role of music in the piece – its trance-like, somatic purpose.
How did other people react to my movement?
Did we have full agency in the piece? What was the role of the voice-over?
Party? Release? Bonding?
What is the boundary between dancer and spectator?

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Moving Lightly


The first term of our Saturday morning Children’s Classes are whizzing by, designed with fun and creative tasks to encourage new movement awareness, skills and confidence. Also to provide a supportive and welcoming environment for children (and their adults) to explore and question how we feel when we’re moving and notice connections between our brain and body.

Initially the 5 senses were inspiration for discovery and we used different sights, sounds, spatial props, smells and tastes to promote and explore possibilities. ‘Light’ has now become our focus as the bright autumn sunshine fades and days turns darker towards the mid-winter – fireworks, colours, reflections and shadows offer thoughts and ideas for movement adventures.

The very youngest children, who are 2-3yrs, enjoy the freedom offered by the beautiful roof studio to dance with their parents and carers, extending their natural movements with feathers, balls, bubbles, balloons, ribbons, parachute. It is delightful to see them feeling so safe to move in the space, gaining confidence and trust in their co-ordination and physicality.

For the 4-7yr olds, amongst other things, we have experimented with onomatopoeic firework words such as – pop, whoosh, boom, crackle, whizz, fizz, bang, zoom – to create and order movement actions with different qualities inspired by the children’s imagination.

The 8-11yr olds are abstracting ideas to develop choreographic skills, making choices and decisions using their own responses. The children played with ribbons representing firework light trails and then created their own ribbon pictures to inspire and design movement pathways.




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Reflecting on the Festival and Next Choreography

And so the end of Next Choreography 2016 -17 has come, and what a year it has been !

The Festival was a vibrant, welcoming and slightly hectic day of dance, creativity and ummm cake … lots of cake. I was taken aback about how open minded and willing to participate the audience were, especially throughout the ‘welcome dance’ and the interesting lift experience.

I am overwhelmed by what I have learnt and achieved on the NC course at Siobhan Davies Dance, and so grateful to have this enriching opportunity. If you are interested in creating, meeting new people and up for a challenge I would highly recommend the NC course for next year. It is so much more than dance and choreography, so don’t let a lack of experience put you off – we had people from a whole host of different backgrounds from drama to art, which only made our experience more valuable. My perception of dance and choreography will never be the same again and I am so glad for this !

Thank you SDD so much and I can’t wait to join YAAG next year.


Festival 2 Festival 3 Festival 4
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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


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



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


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 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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