‘Dance With Me’ Intro:
This project was originally called ‘Horses’ as a nod towards Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel (and later play and film) ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’, and the themes within it. As an ice dancer and a theatre designer I was interested in the mental and (repetitive) physical processes involved in dance marathons during the 1930’s and 40’s, and the notion of training and preparing to train (particularly in sport, dance and theatre) as performance and ritual.
I was particularly interested in the way that a dancer’s clothing, especially their shoes, narrated new stories; where a pair of shoes transformed from a symbol of fortune and hope to a despised obstacle reflecting failure.
The above interests led me to question my own training and creative practices and the context in which they exist. Both in terms of theatre and scenography and in relation to the long term debate surrounding the art of figure skating. They also led to questions about the relevance of scenographic elements in training practices and the psychology that underpins their relevance/impact.
Performance space – The Wellington Statue;
Because this performance is time-based and changes over a number of hours I needed a space that would enable an audience to come and go as they please. An outdoor space suited this approach and meant that those that watched could come back when they wanted. Centrally located, with an inspiring history that references the bravery and strength of the Duke of Wellington and his horse, Copenhagen, this space seemed particularly appropriate.
Although my project title has changed to address the partnership between costume and the performing body, ideas developed in response to ‘They Shoot Horses’ are still present within it. In particular ideas based on the physical and mental strength of dancers as they perform through, with and in spite of deliberately chosen and/or accidental scenography:
The impact of scenography on the body and mind is still an open and relevant question…
Nurse: Can I get you something for your feet?
Gloria Beatty: How about a saw.
They Shoot Horses Don’t They