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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: Sphinx

Summary

Sphinx is Davies' sixth work for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and is a typical example of those works by Davies that avoid dealing with literal ideas in favour of exploring the physical imagery in the body. The commissioned soundscape, composed by Barrington Pheloung, includes violin, electric bass, double bass and a prepared tape including percussion and 'natural' sounds made by pebbles and sticks. Nearly 20 years later Davies returned to Sphinx, at the request of Richard Alston, for 4D, the graduate company of London Contemporary Dance School. Quite a lot of material had to be remade but whilst some roles stayed quite close to the original others are very different.

Analysis

‘Davies was keen to work collaboratively with the dancers, resulting in movement that seemed to ‘belong’ to each of the dancers, which developed into individualistic solos and duets...Sphinx is generally regarded as an important choreographic statement by Davies, for her exploration of animal imagery that fed a number of later works, and her attempt to find a softer, less dramatic treatment of Graham’s style that coloured much of London Contemporary Dance Theatre’s repertoire at the time' (Sarah Whatley, 2005).

‘Davies performed the premiere of Sphinx and spoke about the shape of an animal arriving in the human form. The sensation of the changing skull, elongated back, stomach facing the ground and the arms becoming weight-bearing become the primary force for making the rest of the piece. She transferred the knowledge gained in the solo back into the ‘upright’ dancers who performed the remaining part of the work’ (Deborah Saxon, 2009).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: Sphinx
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Siobhan Davies, Tom Jobe, Namron, Anca Frankenhaeuser, Celia Hulton, Kate Harrison
  • Music: Barrington Pheloung
  • Music - comments: Prepared tape - various indigenous stones, claves, woodblocks, guero, triangles, sleigh bells, Turkish cymbals, maracas, Sudanese thumb piano, high frequency pipes, syringeaphone, vocalisation. Score commissioned with assistance from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
  • Lighting Design: Charter
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Sphinx is Davies' sixth work for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and is a typical example of those works by Davies that avoid dealing with literal ideas in favour of exploring the physical imagery in the body. The commissioned soundscape, composed by Barrington Pheloung, includes violin, electric bass, double bass and a prepared tape including percussion and 'natural' sounds made by pebbles and sticks. Nearly 20 years later Davies returned to Sphinx, at the request of Richard Alston, for 4D, the graduate company of London Contemporary Dance School. Quite a lot of material had to be remade but whilst some roles stayed quite close to the original others are very different.
  • Analysis: ‘Davies was keen to work collaboratively with the dancers, resulting in movement that seemed to ‘belong’ to each of the dancers, which developed into individualistic solos and duets...Sphinx is generally regarded as an important choreographic statement by Davies, for her exploration of animal imagery that fed a number of later works, and her attempt to find a softer, less dramatic treatment of Graham’s style that coloured much of London Contemporary Dance Theatre’s repertoire at the time' (Sarah Whatley, 2005). ‘Davies performed the premiere of Sphinx and spoke about the shape of an animal arriving in the human form. The sensation of the changing skull, elongated back, stomach facing the ground and the arms becoming weight-bearing become the primary force for making the rest of the piece. She transferred the knowledge gained in the solo back into the ‘upright’ dancers who performed the remaining part of the work’ (Deborah Saxon, 2009).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 1977
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-03
  • Media type: Profile
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: 18/10/77 - Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester (Premiere) 17/11/77 - Sadler's Wells, London 23/02/78 - 25/02/78 - Haymarket Theatre, Leicester 02/12/80 - 06/12/80 Sadler's Wells, London
  • Subscription - only: Public
  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesreplay.com/record/40