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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: Bird Song

Summary

Davies began rehearsals with the dancers listening to phrases from the songs of birds. Later, short pieces of music were introduced into the rehearsal process. The rhythms and textures of these became embedded into the dancers' bodies, creating a clear physical language. By the time the music that would be heard during the performance was introduced the dancers had developed a more embodied rhythmic response. The overarching structure of the piece sees clusters of sound, light and motion spiralling in towards a pivotal solo (the song of the Australian Pied Butcher), then spinning out again towards the far edge; like a galaxy with the song of the bird as its gravitational centre. The dance was initially performed 'in the round' with the audience seated on four sides, and was later reworked for presentation in proscenium arch venues.

Analysis

"As part of the process of compiling this archive Coventry University and Siobhan Davies Dance have researched and prototyped new presentations of the digital objects for two works, Bird Song and In Plain Clothes. These presentations, or Kitchens, bring together objects or 'ingredients' organised according to their role in the making or the 'cooking' of a work. As an object in itself, the Kitchen lays out the digital resources in an alternative way. Click here to access the Kitchen.

‘Ear and eye situate us in space and space is experienced by the body – focused by light, located by sound and understood through relationships with others. This is the very heart of dance. And performed in the round, as this work is, the audience are physically around the dance, looking to movement, looking to light and looking to sound’ (David Ward, programme note, 2004).

‘Siobhan Davies…is a poet of small things, whose exploration and distillation of detail is magnified by the power she focuses on them. Bird Song, made earlier this year, is a maniacally unorthodox experience, a ravishing fusion of dance, light and sound that takes place in the centre of the audience. It is a spiral of dance, light and sound rushing in towards, and then being thrown away from, the weirdly beautiful call of an Australian wild bird’ (Ismene Brown, The Daily Telegraph, 12 October 2004).

‘The dancers start to become aware of wider horizons, and of each other: arms that were raised as barriers make tentative contacts, and snatches of piano music mould their bodies into graceful, more coordinated ease’ (Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, 23 October 2004).

'With the audience seated on four sides, the focus was brought inwards, reinforcing a sense of circularity. Audience members were able to see other audience members as much as dancers, providing new choices in what to view. The removal of the proscenium arch abandoned the ‘them and us’ relationship between performer and audience. But one of the more striking aspects of Bird Song is the interweaving of meticulously composed movement with an emotionally charged sound score by Andy Pink and Adrian Plaut’s lighting design, which together create diverse and vibrant mood states. Bird Song travels through movement clusters that seem to drive towards and emanate out of a central solo....and dwells on capturing the present in the synthesis of intricate yet legible dance, sound and lighting' (Sarah Whatley, 2005).

‘Initiated by isolated joints, movement has an anatomical focus and draws attention to body parts and surfaces’ (Lorna Sanders, Dancing Times, November 2006).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: Bird Song
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Tammy Arjona
  • Music: Andy Pink
  • Music - comments: Credited in original programme as Sound score and design. Included in Andy Pink's sound score are the following pieces of music: Infinite Monkeys by Mannlicher Carcano; Scratch by W.Mark Sutherland; language universal (I[0]) by audio.nl; The Pied Butchers of Storey Creek by David Lumsdaine; When I am Eighty-Four by Walter Zimmerman performed by Ian Pace; Canon BWV 1073 by Johann Sebastian Bach played by Musica Antiqua, Koln; The Three Traumerei Variations by John Rea performed by Richard Raymond.
  • Sound Score: Andy Pink
  • Designer: Sam Collins
  • Design - comments: Credited in original programme as Production Design
  • Lighting Design: Adrian Plaut
  • Costume Maker: Sasha Keir
  • Production Manager: Sam Collins - listed in programme as Production Design
  • Editor: Sebastian Ratclife, Sam Collins
  • Editor - comments: Video Editing for the Bird Song Production
  • Contributors: David Ward
  • Contributors - comments: Contributing artist
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Davies began rehearsals with the dancers listening to phrases from the songs of birds. Later, short pieces of music were introduced into the rehearsal process. The rhythms and textures of these became embedded into the dancers' bodies, creating a clear physical language. By the time the music that would be heard during the performance was introduced the dancers had developed a more embodied rhythmic response. The overarching structure of the piece sees clusters of sound, light and motion spiralling in towards a pivotal solo (the song of the Australian Pied Butcher), then spinning out again towards the far edge; like a galaxy with the song of the bird as its gravitational centre. The dance was initially performed 'in the round' with the audience seated on four sides, and was later reworked for presentation in proscenium arch venues.
  • Analysis: "As part of the process of compiling this archive Coventry University and Siobhan Davies Dance have researched and prototyped new presentations of the digital objects for two works, Bird Song and In Plain Clothes. These presentations, or Kitchens, bring together objects or 'ingredients' organised according to their role in the making or the 'cooking' of a work. As an object in itself, the Kitchen lays out the digital resources in an alternative way. Click here to access the Kitchen. ‘Ear and eye situate us in space and space is experienced by the body – focused by light, located by sound and understood through relationships with others. This is the very heart of dance. And performed in the round, as this work is, the audience are physically around the dance, looking to movement, looking to light and looking to sound’ (David Ward, programme note, 2004). ‘Siobhan Davies…is a poet of small things, whose exploration and distillation of detail is magnified by the power she focuses on them. Bird Song, made earlier this year, is a maniacally unorthodox experience, a ravishing fusion of dance, light and sound that takes place in the centre of the audience. It is a spiral of dance, light and sound rushing in towards, and then being thrown away from, the weirdly beautiful call of an Australian wild bird’ (Ismene Brown, The Daily Telegraph, 12 October 2004). ‘The dancers start to become aware of wider horizons, and of each other: arms that were raised as barriers make tentative contacts, and snatches of piano music mould their bodies into graceful, more coordinated ease’ (Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, 23 October 2004). 'With the audience seated on four sides, the focus was brought inwards, reinforcing a sense of circularity. Audience members were able to see other audience members as much as dancers, providing new choices in what to view. The removal of the proscenium arch abandoned the ‘them and us’ relationship between performer and audience. But one of the more striking aspects of Bird Song is the interweaving of meticulously composed movement with an emotionally charged sound score by Andy Pink and Adrian Plaut’s lighting design, which together create diverse and vibrant mood states. Bird Song travels through movement clusters that seem to drive towards and emanate out of a central solo....and dwells on capturing the present in the synthesis of intricate yet legible dance, sound and lighting' (Sarah Whatley, 2005). ‘Initiated by isolated joints, movement has an anatomical focus and draws attention to body parts and surfaces’ (Lorna Sanders, Dancing Times, November 2006).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 2004
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-02
  • Media type: Profile
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Duration: 55 minutes
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: 02/04/04 - 03/04/04 - Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, N. Ireland 07/04/04 - - Millennium Forum, Derry, N. Ireland 15/04/04 - 17/04/04 - Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester 28/04/04 - 30/04/04 - Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 06/05/04 - 09/05/04 - Salts Mill, Saltaire, West Yorkshire 13/05/04 - 14/05/04 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre 23/09/04 - 24/09/04 - Oslo National College for the Arts 01/10/04 - 02/10/04 - Hall for Cornwall, Truro 07/10/04 - 08/10/04 - Wyvern Theatre, Swindon 13/10/04 - 14/10/04 - Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon 20/10/04 - 24/10/04 - Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, London 29/10/04 - 30/10/04 - Lighthouse, Poole with White Man Sleeps (1988): 09/06/05 - 10/06/05 - Salisbury Playhouse 26/09/05 - 28/09/05 - Sadler's Wells, London
  • Web Links: www.siobhandavies.com/thekitchen/birdsong
  • Subscription - only: Public
  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesreplay.com/record/8