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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: White Bird Featherless

Summary

Choreographed the same year as Make-Make, White Bird Featherless has a similarly enigmatic quality. The 18th century riddle is played out in the dance through complex games and courtship rituals. Fruit is exchanged between the dancers and disappears then reappears, a reference to the 18th century courtship ritual of giving fruit as a symbol of sexual favours. Just as pieces of fruit change hands, phrases of movement are exchanged among the dancers. The dancers need to find or keep a place both on the chequered floor but also within the complex music. Their actions are limited or propelled by the squares of light and the gathering speed of the jostling pianos. The chessboard on the floor is a theme continued in the white costumes, which are set against a black background. The score consists of three separate pieces by Gerald Barry, all for piano, the third featuring the countertenor, Nicholas Clapton. The work was performed live as well as filmed for the BBC.

Analysis

White bird featherless
Flew from paradise
Pitched on the castle wall
Along came Lord Landless
Took it up handless
And rode away horseless
To the King's white hall.
-18th century riddle (Programme note, 1992)

'The dancers are dressed in uniform white - hints of the 18th century in their quilted bodices and billowing sleeves. They move across a chequerboard of lighted squares, and brief suggestions of a fencing stance or graceful sexual encounter give substance to the work's evocation of a playful, dangerous and very knowing aristocratic world' (Judith Mackrell, The Independent, 18 October 1992).

'Set to Gerald Barry's tense, purposeful music with its teasing undertones of erotic fantasy, Davies' dance evokes a playful, dangerous and very knowing aristocratic world. The work is distinguished by Peter Mumford's ingenious light installation - a complex chequerboard of lighted squares - and Davies' audaciously fluid and rangy movement, performed with a rare sense of celebration by its cast of six' (source unknown).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: White Bird Featherless
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Amanda Britton, Gill Clarke, Paul Douglas, Sean Feldman, Jeremy James, Elizabeth Old, Deborah Saxon, Sean Curham
  • Music: Gerald Barry
  • Music - comments: By arrangement with Oxford University Press. Text for WATER PARTED by Vincent Deane. 'The score for this work consists of three separate pieces, TRIORCHIC BLUES, (piano), FIVE CHORALES (two pianos), and WATER PARTED, (counter-tenor/mezzo soprano and piano). The latter two pieces come from Barry's opera, THE INTELLIGENCE PARK. The structure, pace and vigour of these three scores have provided the framework for Davies' choroeography. The two pianos, combined with the unearthly qualities of the counter-tenor/mezzo soprano, pull the piece into a suspended space-unrecognizable and without ground' (programme note, 1992).
  • Musicians: Andrew Ball (piano)
  • Musicians - comments: Each performance requires two pianos and a countertenor/mezzo-soprano
  • Lighting Design: Peter Mumford
  • Costume Maker: Sasha Keir
  • Film Director: Peter Mumford
  • Other TV/Film/Radio Credits: A Dancelines production for the BBC's series Summer Dance, broadcast 12/08/1995.
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Choreographed the same year as Make-Make, White Bird Featherless has a similarly enigmatic quality. The 18th century riddle is played out in the dance through complex games and courtship rituals. Fruit is exchanged between the dancers and disappears then reappears, a reference to the 18th century courtship ritual of giving fruit as a symbol of sexual favours. Just as pieces of fruit change hands, phrases of movement are exchanged among the dancers. The dancers need to find or keep a place both on the chequered floor but also within the complex music. Their actions are limited or propelled by the squares of light and the gathering speed of the jostling pianos. The chessboard on the floor is a theme continued in the white costumes, which are set against a black background. The score consists of three separate pieces by Gerald Barry, all for piano, the third featuring the countertenor, Nicholas Clapton. The work was performed live as well as filmed for the BBC.
  • Analysis: White bird featherless Flew from paradise Pitched on the castle wall Along came Lord Landless Took it up handless And rode away horseless To the King's white hall. -18th century riddle (Programme note, 1992) 'The dancers are dressed in uniform white - hints of the 18th century in their quilted bodices and billowing sleeves. They move across a chequerboard of lighted squares, and brief suggestions of a fencing stance or graceful sexual encounter give substance to the work's evocation of a playful, dangerous and very knowing aristocratic world' (Judith Mackrell, The Independent, 18 October 1992). 'Set to Gerald Barry's tense, purposeful music with its teasing undertones of erotic fantasy, Davies' dance evokes a playful, dangerous and very knowing aristocratic world. The work is distinguished by Peter Mumford's ingenious light installation - a complex chequerboard of lighted squares - and Davies' audaciously fluid and rangy movement, performed with a rare sense of celebration by its cast of six' (source unknown).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 1992
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-03
  • Media type: Profile
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: with Wyoming (1988) 11/06/92 - 13/06/92 - Theatre Clwyd, Mold 23/06/92 - 24/06/92 - Oxford Playhouse 02/07/92 - 04/07/92 - Salisbury Playhouse with Make Make (1992) 01/10/92 - RNCM, Manchester Festival 14/10/92 - 17/10/92 - Riverside Studios, London (Dance Umbrella) 20/10/92 - Leadmill Theatre, Sheffield 23/10/92 - 24/10/92 - Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge 27/10/92 - 28/10/92 - Newcastle Playhouse, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 03/05/93 - 04/05/93 - Teatro Libero, Palermo, Sicily with Wanting To Tell Stories (1993) 13/05/93 - 15/05/93 - Gardner Centre, Brighton Festival 15/10/93 - 16/10/93 - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 18/04/94 - 19/04/94 - Ankara, Turkey 23/04/94 - 24/04/94 - Cemit Resit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul, Turkey with The Glass Blew In 19/05/94 - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
  • Subscription - only: Public
  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesreplay.com/record/33