Tag Archives: Sirens

Site Specific Dance

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Site Specific Dance is dance that’s taken into inspiring places that promote thought and experimentation. It doesn’t take place in the normal dance space such as a theatre. Each performance is usually specific to a location, it won’t move to another place without reworking.

The spirit of the place is key.

For Changes In The Current, our first Fuse Festival commission, Sophie, Alix and I chose The Esplanade in Rochester to inspire our project. The river was central to the thought behind it, the choreography, props and the placement of the dancers were all influenced by the river. The dance became a promenade (flowing like the river) and part of the performance took place on the river. 

Site Specific Dance isn’t a new concept, Isadora Duncan, for example, danced outdoors and in unusual places in the early 1900s. The way Site Specific Dance currently looks is probably due to choreographers such as Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham in the 1960s and 70s.

My passion for Site Specific Dance began at University, as it did for many of the TRS Teachers. Many courses have a module that culminates in a tour of the university and the performances around it.

“At University there were some great site specific performances. Among others, I remember a site specific car dance (all done in and around my car), we also used the bike stand point, the movements were like bicycles, the hairdressers where we could use the salon and chairs to create our movements and the woods, climbing in the trees and also using the angles of where the audience stood to create a different view for them.” Georgie, TRS Teacher

Site Specific Dance is engaging for performers and audiences who don’t often access dance. It breaks down many of the barriers associated with dance performance and, perhaps most importantly in this respect, it brings dance to the people. Often audiences are participants rather than spectators.

The Sirens of Cetham was originally a Fuse Festival commission that included a walk to the performance space serenaded by Tendayi’s magical voice and Djembe drumming that drew the audience along to the anchor in Chatham. The performance was then adapted for other spaces including outside the Medway Council offices by The River Medway. There was always a promenade element to draw in the audience as a siren would a ship. Thank you Nikki Price Photography for the image below of one of the sirens on the anchor in Chatham. To read more about the project click HERE.

Unusually for dance, site specific performances are often, put not always, outside. The landscape is key to the piece.

Journey to The Island was one of the Educating Dance themes at Miers Court Primary School. A hill on the field made the perfect island and the Reception classes loved dancing outdoors. They were very imaginative, we had all sorts of creatures on the island and in the water. Then it turned out we were actually in a fish tank!

Participants in schools and care homes love Site Specific Dance because it feels extra special and exciting. It draws attention to their landscape in new ways.

Site Specific Dance has become even more appropriate at the moment, during the Corona virus pandemic, because the rehearsals and performances can be outdoors. This is safer as we exit lockdown and try to find safe ways to enjoy life. We’re looking forward to finding unusual dance spaces and choreographing with the participants, be that in a school or a care home. We’re sure they will have a lot to express at this difficult time and it will be interesting to see what the various collaborations bring.

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The Sirens Photographed

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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.

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Three Events, One Exciting Day

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In 2014 Big Dance, The River Festival and Medway Open Studios all fell on the same day, Saturday 12th July. As a result we joined so many other people for a spectacular Saturday.

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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!

ActiveArmchairsNext 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!

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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.

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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 took lots of photos and video footage during the day and was pleased that my phone made an Auto Awesome, a video automatically made of randomly selected photos and video, very clever! So many people, organisations and mythical creatures featured, Big Dance, The River Festival, The Edith May, Silversmith Dance Theatre, Ginny and Maude, Richard Squarecube, Sun Pier House, Jacob Bride, Sophie Wophie, KAB, Active Armchairs, The Dance Community, Luci Napleton, AMG Dance, Medway Open Studios, edna, Dementia Friends, The Sirens of Cetham, Jet Stream Tours, The Big Sing and many more!

 

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