Now that I’ve got a bit of time after the Christmas rush, I’ll be taking a look back at my last year and sharing some of my personal work.
One of the first things I want to share was from Activate’s Hengistbury Headlines in September. I’m not sure it had much publicity but it was beautifully and thoughtfully done.
As a family we spend a lot of time at Hengistbury Head. I love how quickly the landscape changes from beach to open heath to sheltered woodland and back again. We love the chattering starlings at the Hiker cafe and the skylarks swooping. And I really loved the sound installations by Jony Easterby. My favourite was Do Not Feed the Birds as part of Jony Easterby’s Remnant Ecologies which used guitars, drums and amps laid out on the grass and scattered across with bird seed. As those starlings came in, they created their own soundtrack, strumming and picking the strings as while they fed and as they took flight again, they left a strumming humming chord reverberating. I stayed watching and listening for a long time. Then on the harbour side were these chirruping birdhouses, spinning in the wind.
The one I really wanted to see was Sweetshop Revolution’s Tree. In recent years, I’ve really fallen for contemporary dance, and I especially love seeing it when it’s not confined to a set space on a stage but incorporated into its location. I know it’s quite a niche interest so I was thrilled when I heard there would be a performance so close to my home. Everything I’d seen before had been in urban environments; in car parks, shopping centres or roaming through theatres.
This production involved the diverse geography of the Head so well with characters meeting mermaids on the shore, evoking the iron age history of the site, swimming in the bay and finally coming to a sort of peace within the woods.
It was funny, charming and full of moments of really beautiful dance, both quiet and considered and powerful and urgent. I was too busy watching to photograph those for you to see.
As the story and main characters brought us on across the headland to their performance spaces, there were supporting sirens in green shimmering wigs and these majestic, petitioning birds.
I’d love to see more work like this, if you hear of anything please let me know. And if they return, I’d urge you to go and see them even if you think it might not be your thing. You might surprise yourself and find a new love. Tomorrow I’m going to see a whole show of mime. I know, right? But who knows, maybe I’ll love this too.