Nikki Price Photography received a private performance from The Sirens of Cetham Team when she came to photograph them before their River Festival and Big Dance performances in July 2014. We’re so pleased she braved the weather because her photos, as always, are fantastic.
This album contains just a few of her photos, these are The Faces of TSOC. Keep your eye out as we will post more in the near future.
Our first part in this special day was a performance by Ginny and Maude. This time they were at the seaside for a hilarious adventure involving indecision, ice cream, Charleston dance and lots more! The Mayor was present and was amused to receive one of the very special comics drawn by Richard Squarecube. Richard is an artist based at Sun Pier House and, as well as his comic, his Ginny and Maude painting was hung on the pier and his Sirens of Cetham water colour could be found in the Big Dance green room. I’m so pleased our dance performances have inspired him so much!
Next for us were dance workshops. I had just enough time to squeeze in an Active Armchairs workshop that I co-facilitated with Georgia. Active Armchairs in the sunshine, on the pier, beautiful! Georgia also lead a very popular Creative Dance workshop and fellow TRS Teacher, Alix was there with her dance company, AMG Dance, so she lead a workshop too!
As if that wasn’t enough, we then entered The River Festival’s domain for a spectacular performance of The Sirens of Cetham. The promenade between Big Dance and The River Festival was long. The sirens and musicians got tired in the hot sun, but it was well worth it as they collected the audience up with their haunting sounds and intriguing presence.
The performance at The River Festival had a huge audience. I was pleased to hear that one mum said, “My son is normally all over the place, but he sat still and watched captivated. When I asked if he wanted to see something else he said no and he stayed for the whole piece. Fantastic.”
Then I walked back as the promenade went back to Sun Pier and Big Dance for yet another performance. This time the audience had been warmed up by The Big Sing. 12 minutes later, and the final performance was over. Luci Napleton who organised Big Dance 2014 in Medway thanked everyone for coming. I would like to thank Luci for doing such a brilliant job and for including us in so many different ways.
Throughout the day I did get a few chances to see other things that were going on. The water displays were especially exciting. A jets ski flipping record attempt and a man doing dolphin dives with water shooting out of his boots and propelling him into the air. There were boats and barges everywhere. The tea room in Sun Pier House was packed. The Artists of Sun Pier House had multiple displays of their work as part of Medway Open Studios. In the Sun Pier House Gallery Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) and edna had an exhibition of art and photography. So much to see and do!
I think our Sirens’ storm conjuring was just a little too successful, having created a whole pile of grey clouds for our dress rehearsal yesterday!
It was a cold and sorry group that walked the promenade, with drizzle threatening, for our final run through in full costume and make up.
And our final practice storm calling must have been even more successful as later in the day, thunder rolled around Rochester with snaps of lightning splitting the sky. Oops… sorry chaps.
This morning we woke to mist! A hazy blanket had wrapped around us through the night, so we crossed our fingers and hoped that the July sun was strong enough to steam it all away for our actual performance.
We Sirens gathered in our home for the day (The Right Step offices) and proceeded to warm ourselves up and prepare for the performance ahead. Below us by the pier, the River Festival was starting to take shape; guys on jet skis looped the loop, ships fired out great blasts of water and an amazing chap was defying gravity with an incredible water jet pack system allowing him to fly like Iron Man using water for propulsion.
We saw the little AMG Funky Ballet dancers performing their hearts out on the pier itself as part of the Big Dance weekend as well as Ginny and Maude taking their delightfully quaint trip to the seaside. A true medley of dance genres unfolding beneath us.
Meanwhile we were being transformed from mere mortal dancers with the usual aches and pains into our mythical alter egos… the Sirens. With every layer of lace, every brush of make up we were venturing deeper into our characters.
Finally, transformation completed, it was time for our promenade… we were being marched to our rock… where we were to be banished for eternity. With the heavy drums and mournful singing from our leaders, it was time to walk. And amazingly, the sun had started to creep through the grey… perfect timing.
The performance tells the tale, how we emerge, seduce, call the storm and then recover the next day only to realise that this is it, we are to repeat the story over and over! We are stranded forever, never to love again, never to feel again… banished to our rock. A tragic tale indeed. And true to the story, we repeated it all again back on Sun Pier for our second performance of the day.
Our final rehearsal with the sirens was in their favourite type of weather, rain!
We were lucky enough to be joined by our musicians, Jacob Bride and Jamie Godfrey, and to have vocals from the lovely Sue Coxon. They promenade with the sirens from Sun Pier House all the way to the grass under The Mayor’s Lawn.
Jacob Bride also composed the music and with Jamie’s help they played the many instruments and produced it too! A multi talented pair!
Our fantastic costume developer, Rosie was with us, making sure the sirens’s kept their jewels in the right places and don’t squirrel them away, we know they like to do that!
Nikki Price, the siren’s favourite photographer, was present to capture it all. We are very thankful to Nikki for the fantastic photos she took last year, I’m sure you’ve seen them, and can’t wait to see this year’s photos too. I’m sure they will be quite a contrast, one set in beautiful sunshine and the next in cloudy weather!
Even with the weather, the rehearsal went really well and I’m looking forward to everything taking place at The River Festival and Big Dance on Saturday.
So for someone who lived in the Sinai desert, you would have thought that I would know how to protect myself from the sun’s rays. But… no… after our first day’s rehearsals in yesterday’s glorious sunshine, there was a distinctive glow to my face and shoulders by evening.
So… day two saw us all slathered with sunscreen!
Of course the clouds knew this, so decided to fill the sky for us… haha one surplus bottle of factor 20 now sitting in my bag. Hmmm… me thinks we may have been a little too successful with our conjuring up of the clouds yesterday.
Day two saw us finishing the last two chunks of choreography. Sophie had her spritely, child-like section to work on and I my emotional realisation of our plight. Jacob’s dramatic music combined with Lorraine’s insightful words and my over-active imagination resulted in me genuinely feeling quite choked.
Day one of our rehearsals for the Big Dance Sirens of Cetham event at the weekend and we were fittingly, by the water.
The Sirens and our lovely choreographer Lorraine gathered on the grass by the Mayor’s lawn to begin the creative process. Gathering our thoughts on our terrible situation… banished at sea to a lonely rock from which we are to lure unsuspecting sailors to their death for eternity.
So we worked our bodies into seductive mode, “singing” the siren’s song through dance… me the matriarch and probably the one most aware and devastated by our current situation together with my fellow sirens, the spritely, young, blue siren and the ultra seductive, red siren.
Moved by the dramatic music created by Jacob Bride we breathed our breath and worked our bodies into the movements… early days yet… more to come tomorrow.
So… today we had our first production meeting for our Medway River Festival performance.
And we are re-creating the fantastic Lorraine Smith’s Sirens of Cetham performance which will take place on the Mayor’s Lawn in Chatham during the festival.
So, what is a Siren? Well pretty apt for me, they are sea spirits who have been banished to a rock. As a scuba diver who is currently very much land-based I can relate to this. What a shame the River Medway is not a little warmer, otherwise I would have been offering to emerge from the depths as part of the show!
The ancient story tells that apparently the Sirens did not stop Hades from taking the young Persephone into Hell, so Demeter (Persephone’s understandably distraught mother), had the Sirens banished. For eternity, they were destined to sit on their rock, helplessly drawing sailors to their deaths. Lured by their irresistible song, the young men would be drawn towards them and the rock, ultimately crashing their boats in the process. Not a cheery end for anyone.
Our promenade will be re-enacting their banishment. Dramatic. They are not evil women, maybe weren’t as brave as they needed to be for poor Persephone. Ooh we love a good old Greek myth.
So… this blog within a blog will be following our path from a Siren’s point of view.
Today we got to discuss the costumes with the lovely Rosie, chat about the story with Lorraine, meet Tendayi playing the Siren’s judge… as well as walk the promenade checking the timing and distance.