DanceLive Writing Programme

Citymoves invited dance writers and artists to apply for its first dance writing programme as part of DanceLive 2020. The selected writers were asked to review two shows in the DanceLive programme, as well as write a more reflective piece. They were mentored by dance writer Róisín O'Brien.

As well as this professional programme, Citymoves also ran a Youth Writing workshop for young writers interested in learning more about journalism. These three writers each reviewed White & Givan's Worn. 

You can read their work as well as find out more about the writers below.

DANCELIVE WEEKEND creative writing works

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic


Photo: Xavier Núñez


Practice Presentation: Screensaver Series by Janine Harrington

by Angelos Angelidis Scrolling through mutating mandalas in my room, Practice Presentation reminds me that everything we do is a form of practice. Practice as a way of getting to know things, knowing as un-stable, un-fixed, rather wavering. Based on Janine Harrington’s choreography titled Screensaver Series, which has been touring since 2017, here we see a flatter version on our screens. The work’s continual creation/destruction of form nonetheless still has a mesmerising impact. With the video overlaid with audio of Janine’s ruminations, its jumping from the micro to the macro, the human to the cosmic, puts life into perspective and makes me feel like everything is going to be alright. Inspired by the human nervous system, concepts of therapeutic spaces, technology and ideas around functionality/productivity, the dance emulates the hypnotic forms and textures of a computer’s screensaver mode. It’s a mode that is usually assumed to be non-functional, yet if you pierce through its semblance it offers fertile ground to the computer user and their consciousness to take a break, a breather, to let new ideas sync in. It makes me wonder how often I am on screensaver mode: perhaps that’s where the beauty happens. There is no end product in the thinking and evolution of this piece, but a constant flow and unfolding, resembling the vibrancy of spring. All of this accomplished by six dancers whose movement is constrained within a single axis, something which is seen by Janine as less of an obstacle but a poetic tool from which to seek expansiveness of meaning. Just as the human body finds movement around the spine, so do planets orbit around a central star: we are as much enabled as we are compromised by context. The collaborative and intuitive movement of the dancers, one behind another, feeling through touch, expanding together, makes me feel nostalgic of dancing with others, but hopeful knowing that this is an experience that many people are holding on to and looking forwards to having again. While the audience could walk around and see different perspectives of the dance in the live version, the digital one offers the opportunity to bring new insights to the audience, particularly through footage from the rehearsals as explained by the artists in the Q&A after the screening. Emphasising the care aspect of the project and the process behind it, Practice Presentation reminds us that it is always in relation that we make each other possible - a net of jewels that all reflect one another. This piece absorbed me and has now become part of me - to eternity and beyond! Writer Biography: Angelos has been exploring dance and dance writing independently since he graduated with a degree in human geography. He is currently a writer for Dance Art Journal and is fascinated by the transgressive and therapeutic possibilities of movement and words and their relationship to the human body. @rebelliuschaperone

(PERIOD) by Shaper/Caper

by Angelos Angelidis

Have you ever felt trapped inside a bathroom? Has your private experience of visiting the toilet become a matter of public discourse, of disagreement?

Opening up with a scene at a public washroom, a contested site for trans bodies, (PERIOD) touches on the core of society’s problematic conceptualisation of gender that ends up demonising trans bodies as a weapon against advancement of their human rights. Under a spoken word soundscape, Alex McCrossan’s dance is muffled and suffocated in that space, trying to find an escape from the reproduction and artificiality of biological essentialism. The quick camera movement that pans and zooms reflects the brittleness of those concepts and the violence they cause, or perhaps the quivering need for a shift in perspective. The sense of urgency is amplified by the spoken word that alludes to how societal discourse abstracts and depersonalises the trans experience. It makes me feel frustrated, nearly anguished thinking about their body captured in that state, pleading for space to breathe... to be...

We then find ourselves by the sea, the ocean and its vastness holding two polar states; an infinity of possibilities to be explored versus the experience of drowning and searching for breath. Even though there is more of a sense of calm in comparison to the previous scene, a more stable camera operation and more emphasis on editing, there is still a feeling of an impending apotheosis. The dancer walks away from the ocean and approaches the viewer. They play with and are enveloped by a large red fabric - what might have initially appeared to be an innocent thing turns into a violent force. Swelling with a wrong identity, entangled by the fabric, floating in the middle of the ocean, the expectations placed upon them are like shark bites. Their body achingly grows the opposite direction of their mind. McCrossan is carried away in their movements, at times crumbling down. By this point I am searching for my own breath!

What does it mean to not fit in that binary? How can cisgendered people relate to that sense of misplacement and approach understanding a queer person’s experience with more compassion? Have you been bitten by a shark? I think (PERIOD) fills in an important space artistically by sharing the story of a non-binary dancer and the message that, in time, there is healing, which is what brings change in the world. I enjoyed the piece’s engagement with notions of inside/outside and I think that further exploration with post-production will aesthetically elevate the final piece further, propelling it into even more screens, touching even more hearts.

Writer Biography: Angelos has been exploring dance and dance writing independently since he graduated with a degree in human geography. He is currently a writer for Dance Art Journal and is fascinated by the transgressive and therapeutic possibilities of movement and words and their relationship to the human body.


Short Films and Q&A by Katrina McPherson & Harold Rhéaume

by Julia Zlotnick

This digital event was a captivating and fascinating exploration of dance and moving image. The event featured three short screendance films created across 20+ years of collaboration between director Katrina McPherson and choreographer Harold Rheaume, followed by footage from their upcoming project Solitude and a Q&A.

The first film, Mur Mur (1993), stars dancers from the Canadian dance company Le Groupe. The work has a dark, abstract, surrealist feel and sinister tone, evoked through the characters behaviour and movement, featuring dancers hands emerging from darkened windows to caress the leading male performer’s face. The strange and ominous world is further reflected in the choice of setting, an old prison cell-turned youth hostel.

The relationship between the lead male and female dancer is defined by spatial proximity and exhibits an often playful, aggressive movement quality that is contrasted by moments of soft and sensitive touch. The movement is often emphasised and exaggerated by the sound score, through loud noises when dancers clash against the floor. The colour in costume and lighting was interesting and effective, in establishing contrast between characters. The lead female wears bright reds or yellows whilst the lead man wears muted blues. The artists’ careful consideration of detail effectively evokes a dream-like world, as though the surrounding characters are figments of the lead male’s imagination. The cohesive use of colour, movement, sound, setting, camera angles and editing elicits the foreboding tone, giving the work a real intensity.

We then move to Pictureshow (1997), performed by Harold Rhéaume, written by Marianne Carey and composed by Haftor Medboe. The script is appealing, funny, sweet and quirky, delivered humorously by Harold. It is set against light cyclical music and a variety of off-beat images in which Harold is the only person to acknowledge the camera, including a repeated striking frame of Harold standing still as cars and people filter past him. The work is playful; the artists experimentation with repetition playfully distorts the sense of space and time, while the cheerfulness of the music and the funny, somewhat positive text evokes a sense of lightness and joy. Pictureshow reminds me of the screendance-version of an early Wes Anderson film.

The third and final collaboration, Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes evokes a sense of loneliness, featuring the two artists as the sole performers set against a variety of empty, natural and man-made landscapes. The repetitive music is haunting and transfixing.

Their most recent work Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes, and work in progress Solitude are reflective of the changes in technology, using techniques such as split screen that have become more accessible with advancements in technology. Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes is less character driven than their earlier works and does not include the use of text. It is subtle and thoughtful and shows a sense of maturity in its sensitive exploration of loneliness, although it loses some of the playfulness and surrealist quality of their early works.

Throughout the collaborations is a unique artistic voice which draws from their many years of experience creating screendance together, and an attention to detail and thoughtful craftmanship. Although the location and emotional tone of each work differs, common themes of business versus emptiness and an exploration of time and space emerge in all works. The use of repeated frames and sound scores warp the sense of time, creating a cohesive world and emotional arc without a strict narrative structure.

Their work is engaging and beautifully captures small details such as the movement of feet contrasted by wide shots of landscapes. Visually and sonically intriguing, Katrina and Harold effectively use all elements of screen dance to produce heartfelt and moving cinematic experiences. Their work is a considered and exciting exploration of screen dance and well-worth watching.

Writer Biography: Julia Zlotnick is a creative practitioner and interdisciplinary artist, who works predominantly as a performance maker across dance, theatre and comedy. Julia also enjoys writing and editing short copy, scripts, interviews and dance reviews.


Penthouse Hickies by Sliding Doors Collective

by Julia Zlotnick

Two blonde twenty-something year old girls sit together, sharing a bowl of popcorn. One asks, “Anyway, how are you?” This is the final moment of Penthouse Hickies by Sliding Doors Collective. This lasting image, after a whirlwind of dance and spoken word, perfectly sums up the key to the work: their friendship. No matter what the girls have been through together, their bond remains a constant.

Penthouse Hickies is the debut work of Sliding Doors Collective, which will hopefully be followed by subsequent works. Choreographed and performed by best friends and cross-disciplinary contemporary dance artists Clara Cowen and Rachel Laird, their relationship is at the heart of the work, which explores the ups and downs of casual dating in your early twenties.

It is their genuine close friendship, which is evident through their performed relationship, caring quality of touch and speech, that makes the work so appealing, relatable and engaging. The work has a playful, fun, whimsical, and mostly light-hearted feel which perfectly encapsulates the experience of casual dating for someone in their twenties (from my perspective, as someone in their twenties).

The movement is loose, care-free and expressive, switching between upbeat and tender, complimenting the mood of the romantic lyric-based music. Movement is used effectively to enhance spoken word: Clara vocalises a text message, which is reflected in Rachel’s movements. Rachel emphasises the repetition of the explanation mark in the text by repeatedly pumping her fist high up in the air, moving energetically and rhythmically. This creates a humorous effect and draws your attention to the silly over-use of punctuation.

It is a feel-good show with tender and sensitive moments, balanced out by a sense of flimsiness and swift switches in mood and tone. A sense of returning to familiarity is created by the structure of the work and use of space. Clara and Rachel begin, end and consistently return to the corner of the stage where they sit on chairs, have a chat and share a bowl of popcorn. The experience reminded me of going to a best friend’s house and having a chat and cup of tea, or, in their case, popcorn.

Whilst the work may not be especially groundbreaking, it is memorable, funny, fresh, relatable, appealing and most enjoyable to watch. I am very excited by these emerging artists and can’t wait to watch their journey develop and see what they come up with next. Great debut! Sliding Doors Collective have a bright and exciting future ahead.

Writer Biography: Julia Zlotnick is a creative practitioner and interdisciplinary artist, who works predominantly as a performance maker across dance, theatre and comedy. Julia also enjoys writing and editing short copy, scripts, interviews and dance reviews. @juliazlotnick

Requiem for a Poet by Nicolas Blanc, Greig Mathews & Xavier Núñez

by Mhairi Allan

Requiem – an act or token of remembrance, Oxford English Dictionary.

What better tribute to a nation of dance artists and musicians, starved of theatres and live audiences, than to create work which recognises and acknowledges their loss of freedom of expression. Requiem for a Poet for a solo dancer and premiered as part of DanceLive, was conceived by choreographer Nicolas Blanc and dancer Greig Mathews of Joffrey Ballet pre COVID-19, and was originally destined as a shorter solo as part of a larger work to be performed in the summer this year. The dance film, the result of a close collaboration with filmmaker and director/dancer Xavier Núñez, also of Joffrey Ballet, was completed in August this year, over two days.

The film opens with views of the grand architecture of downtown Chicago. Moving downwards, the camera focuses on Mathews, who begins an intimate duet with his dance partner, a vivid blue cello. Mathews plays with the cello and the bow, at times using his own body as the instrument, emulating its shape and curves as he moulds around and behind it. Vivid images emerge: for example, Mathews employs the bow as a walking stick displaying heaviness and effort in moving and at one point aims the tip of the bow at his head in a brief act of violence. Classically trained Mathews allows himself moments to display his dance skills as he leaps, turns and extends his expressive limbs in space.

Bach’s cello score drives the film’s narrative with its dynamic pace and quality as Mathews dances in the empty streets. Choosing this particular score is also recognisable and easy for the viewer to enter the work. Mathews' performance moves between moments of dramatic and melancholic qualities as he endeavours to connect to and with the music and instrument. The camera captures the solitude of performing for an unseen audience. Who is Mathews performing for or to? An audience hidden behind the windows of the many buildings or caught briefly watching behind the cello?

Núñez proposes that the film, is, the choreography. Skilful crafting and editing employs the natural colours of an early morning sky and the dramatic blue cello stands out throughout. These empty streets city are a reminder of where the current world has been during lockdown. Placing the work here highlights how dance artists now have to re-imagine and develop in ever changing contexts. As Núñez comments, the camera is now part of the dancers’ connection with future audiences.

Requiem for a Poet is an act of remembrance that honours both the dancer as an artist and the art form, continually evolving, growing and changing shape whatever challenges it faces.

Writer Biography: Mhairi Allan is an Aberdeen based, independent dance artist and Hatha Yoga teacher. Her movement research has been enriched through many collaborative partnerships, mediums and practices and she continues this exploration in her current work 'Listening to Birds'.

Short Films by Katie Taylor & Melissa Heywood

by Mhairi Allan

The Soul Species: Choreography by Katie Taylor & Melissa Heywood

The Free Three: Choreography by Katie Taylor

The first of the dance films is The Soul Species, choreographed by Katie Taylor and Melissa Heywood and takes its title from the national emblem of Scotland: the common heather, Calluna Vulgaris. The film opens with a close up of the plant in its native environment, its brittleness and colour emerging as both dancers quietly surface from the earth. The dancers curve and wave their arms, their bodies swaying, as they explore the movement and texture of the heather. The movement is accompanied by the sounds of burning heather and by a gentle humming sound score. The scene changes abruptly with a piercing ear- splitting sound as individual body parts, hands, feet and brief glimpses of the dancers’ heads reach out to feel the air. With skilful editing two dancers become six: for a brief moment many ghostly limbs surface. Many hands open and close, merging with this vast landscape. The dancers embrace and connect to the bed of heather and create paths, patterns and imprints from their own bodies.

In the next scene, the dancers simply walk through the heather accompanied by the haunting and rhythmical sounds of the traditional Waulking (not walking) folk songs of highlander women, as they beat and soften tweed. The effect of these walking steps accompanied by the steady rhythm and pulse of the songs of the women lulls the observer into this vast space and evokes images and the feeling of being with all those women in the past, now present with the dancers.

As the film closes the dancers repeat their opening rhythmical swaying as they descend back down to the bed of heather. The final shot captures images of heather, the delicacy of its flowers accompanied by the film’s gentle, humming sound score. “How does the earth view us in comparison to this plant?” ask the choreographers. Soul Species, an important and poignant reminder for us now, shows us that the plant, like us humans, is resilient, it keeps growing. ….

The second dance film by Katie Taylor is The Free Three. Filmed in monochrome and on the subject of evolution, the choreography takes the spectator on a personal journey. The strength and beauty of both films are evident of Katie Taylor’s background not only as a dancer but also of her explorations in film and photography. Both films work by combining the physical, visual and textual forms in this medium to portray powerful messages.

The film opens with the sound of chimes and a deep foreboding score. The beginning of the journey, highlighted by the text sea-earth-time, begins in a moving car that passes many changing landscapes and seasons. A steady, vocal, pulsating soundtrack accompanies the journey, neither overwhelming nor overstated. The dancers’ movements throughout the film are organised depending on and sympathetic to the environment. A solo dancer appears by the sea, her arms swinging in sync with the sound of the waves and then digging into the sand as her movements become more frantic. The scene changes as two dancers move together, using their bodies to support and balance playfully with each other on mounds of snow. This lightness continues as the camera shifts from outside to the intimacy of homes of multiple dancers. The limitation of the dancer’s movements in the confinements of their space is in contrast to the vastness of the previous natural locations.

Throughout the film, written statements and questions which supports the dialogue with the dancers appear: “Where have you been?”, “We have all been here.”; “Where are you now?”, “We are still here.” As The Free Three closes there is silence. In the theory of evolution, the ability to survive depends on adapting to one’s environment: the poignancy and power of this work urges us to consider this in these current times.

I watched these films as part of DanceLive short dance film series in the Cowdry Hall at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Viewing the films in this space was a feast for the senses. Starved of watching dance in a theatre, this was almost as close to a live performance as one could get. The space itself was bathed in natural light; quiet, cool and peaceful, enabling a closer connection with the dancers and their work.

Writer Biography: Mhairi Allan is an Aberdeen based, independent dance artist and Hatha Yoga teacher. Her movement research has been enriched through many collaborative partnerships, mediums and practices and she continues this exploration in her current work 'Listening to Birds'.

A.I by Kathryn Spence & Bo Morgan

Dance and Hope at the End of the Tunnel

by Iliyana Nedkova

The short film A.I. by Kathryn Spence and Bo Morgan opens on a shoreline. Two lonely silhouettes head towards the sea while the camera walks away from them like a slow tidal wave. The silhouettes become a fuzzy mirage soon to be engulfed by another – a tunnel of pulsating red and white neon lights and spotty, pixelated patterns morphing into a three-way split screen. With black bands at the top and bottom, the two dancers’ legs occupy the middle screen, from which the duo soon emerge full size in a sunlit studio with their backs turned to us, still.

A pair of pointed bare feet start drawing shapes on the studio floor before dispersing to the diagonal in a whirl. Suddenly, the movement slows down, as if to allow us to meet and greet the two main characters. Clad in their black joggers, they appear to have popped in the empty studio for a quiet rehearsal.

All along, building up gradually, an electronica beat becomes an earworm. The sound sticks to our ears as much as to the pair of practising bodies in the studio, especially when the two performers become one, as they roll, lift, entangle and intertwine into one big black embrace. The camera circles and hovers around the dancers, speeding up the sequences of lift, hold, twirl and repeat. Relief comes in with a couple of flashbacks to the opening scene – the dancers disappear into the horizon through the lens of the foamy tidal wave. Not for long. We are thrown back onto the studio parquet floor to zone in on the two faces and four arms gravitating towards each other.

Is it in anticipation of the dancers becoming digital avatars of themselves, no longer able to be together amidst a global pandemic outbreak? Can we find any respite in what ensues – a rapid, head-over-heels succession of duets and solos set against the projection backdrop of black and white computer code writ large? Four hands stretch and punch the air in despair. The tension grows as the entangled bodies merge with the computer script scroll. A barely discernible I am Happy refrain seems like a glitch in the script and contrasts with the scared eyes and the trance-like movement of the bodies caught in the machine. The foreboding sense of isolation and melancholy prevails as the camera turns its gaze to the rain obscuring the vision of the world through the window.

A final gesture and we are back full circle to the tunnel of red and white neon lights fading away in the distance. The comfort of familiarity or the end of the beginning? Perhaps, dancing is our glimmer of hope that we return to at the end of the A.I. tunnel?

A.I. (2020) is co-directed by Kathryn Spence and Bo Morgan was premiered at DanceLive Festival, 15-18 October 2020

Writer Biography: Iliyana Nedkova is an independent contemporary art curator, writer and producer with over 25 years of professional experience. Her current research interests include screen dance, women artists, peacebuilding and the arts, publicness, environmental humanities, artist’s moving image culture, literature in translation and artists’ residencies.

Iliyana's Website

Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes by Katrina McPherson & Harold Rhéaume

by Iliyana Nedkova A camera goes out for a walk to an ancient forest where we meet a couple in their prime. The sun shines shyly through the tree canopy and warms their bodies. He blows through her blonde hair to reveal her face, then stretches his entire being towards her while she remains still, wearing a matching casual black outfit. Still and pensive she might be now - but not for long.

The camera begins to hover as an affectionate drone over another location – a grass and gravel driveway where the main characters move swiftly but business-like - she in her form-hugging dress and he in his buttoned-up shirt. Dark clouds gather as if to match their dark-blue attire and the ennui streaming from their furtive movements – lying down, shooting upright, sitting down as their heads and hands yearn to touch and connect.

It is this close human relationship that becomes the magnet for the camera and the central focus of the short film, Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes created and performed by Katrina McPherson and Harold Rhéaume. They glide in and out of one landscape to another almost effortlessly, from a forest floor to a carpark, a brick wall enclosure to a boardroom, and a dance studio to a pebbly beach. Often, the faithful camera is spared the full frame view and we have to settle on a restless, split screen peek into fragments of their caressing arms and faces, or their fast, darting legs as they climb up, step by step or lie across a metal ramp-like staircase. The suspense grows as the screens fracture even more, zooming onto his fingers - one is bandaged - or onto his lips, balancing a large flat pebble! Are the performers about to blindfold or protect themselves as they slide their hands over each other’s eyes? The top and bottom split screens befittingly go blank, denying us that knowledge.

This syncopated rhythm of bodily and spatial movements is further complemented by a nuanced and subtle soundscape primarily captured on location – from birdsong and footwork to heavy breathing – perhaps, more discernible as surround sound in a pre-COVID-19 theatre environment. The soundscape may be less audible and prominent when experienced through a post-pandemic digital platform, but it is the impulse for subtlety, intimacy and human touch within the film that most of us can identify with. The desire to come together digitally is that very same magnetism that has drawn the two dance artists across geographies, sights and sounds. The urge to keep leaning on each other for support, to snuggle into a ball, to kneel in reverence. To hold the moment of closeness that bit tighter and stronger.

Paysages Mixtes | Mixed Landscapes (2019) - co-directed and performed by Katrina McPherson and Harold Rhéaume - was screened as part of DanceLive Festival, 15-18 October 2020

Writer Biography: Iliyana is an independent contemporary art curator, writer and producer with over 25 years of professional experience. Her current research interests include screen dance, women artists, peacebuilding and the arts, publicness, environmental humanities, artist’s moving image culture, literature in translation and artists’ residencies.

Iliyana's Website

Worn by White & Givan

Worn by White & Givan by Laura Booth Worn, choreographed and performed by Errol White and Davina Givan, is an emotive and physically articulate work. It speaks to the effects that time and space have on the body and how the scars of our past experiences appear in our present lives. The duo begin in an embrace with arms wrapped around each other, walking into the space. They take their time. Bodies weighted, drained but supported by each other. Their intertwined bodies break away, fall and mould back together. It’s a nod towards the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is mended with gold, a practice of embracing flaws with strength and of finding beauty within vulnerability. Often their bodies lie exhausted, a hand to support the lower back, a surrender and unfiltered response to the hypothetical question ‘how are you?’ Although the work is based upon the duo’s life experiences, there are moments of meeting yourself. We are all human and have all lived within a worn body or mind. There is a mutual offering and receiving of support through counterbalance, as they continue to be drawn back to each other, through physical contact or moving separately but in unison. The duo remind us that our experiences, although individual, are also universal. The performance leaves you with an urge to check in on the people around you, to remind them that you are there to support them. Shortly before DanceLive, Errol and Davina filmed Worn in Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree, together with their creative team. Errol explained, “all parties have a voice within the work: lighting, film, music, costume and movement”. The one hour work was filmed in just three days, requiring them to physically “dig” deep to ensure all of the footage was recorded. The team’s passion and drive to pull the work together, amidst a global pandemic that has had disastrous impacts on the creative industry adds another layer to Worn. Exhaustion and pain is witnessed on both a personal and professional level. Ultimately the powerful message that echoes throughout Worn is that we may feel exhausted, depleted and drained but we will also continue and that drive holds our hope. With the use of momentum, throughout Worn the duo continue to dance, swinging and carving their arms through space, building their bodies from lying to standing. And that speaks loudly in these times, continuing to speak our truth, continuing to create and stand together. Writer Biography: Laura Booth is a Scottish dance artist and yoga teacher, drawn to the possibilities of play and healing within movement. @laurie__j Worn by White & Givan by Chloe Snelgrove

I sit patiently, waiting behind my laptop screen to watch the live premiere of the new performance film, Worn. The film is choreographed and performed by the contemporary dance duo White & Givan at Citymoves Digital Dance Festival in Aberdeen.

As the lights lift, I am immersed into the current forgotten world of the stage. Embraced within a central spotlight is White and Givan, clutching one another within the striped back space of the stage, exposed to all those watching behind the camera. Tenderly emotive within its technical and tentative choreography, these two dancers adapt the presence of moving bodies on stage through the lens of the camera: a touch of our old reality. Worn attempts to explore the effect of experience and change upon the body, allowing us to witness and question the value of fragility and imperfection in a time in which we place so much value upon the complete, the idealistic and the flawless.

The choreography places the body at the crux of the work by prioritising the physical body within the performance space. This presence of the body takes us through moments of subtly, to dynamic and repetitive patterns of motion. These intricate yet also expansive movements, blur the boundaries between vulnerability and strength. The scarred body becomes a celebratory notion, as it becomes caught within an expansive movement and then falls into a smaller version of its own self. This embodied absorption of value is inspired by the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is restored with gold, making the cracks become the beauty of these valuable objects.

There is a continued and recognisable choreography of visceral shapes repeated and articulated in the body throughout the piece, which provide the audience with a guide to follow. Movements are fluid yet rooted within the body via intensity and commitment; White and Givan move between different speeds, whilst some moments linger like the slow, winding down of a child’s toy. This slow movement captures the painful experiences of the body, and thus finds beauty within those traces. This is especially so where the angle of the camera feeds in, creating intimacy between the audience and dancer, and therefore forming this moment of poignancy.

White and Givan’s memorising movement and powerful lighting design mingled thoughtfully with Tiago’s sound score, where it enhances the non-verbal sensibility of the piece and added weight and depth to the physicalised revelations of the body. The further threading of text layers the piece with historical contexts which glimpse at how the emotion of loss fed into the work personally for White and Givan. These skilfully collated elements of the piece create a sensory performance, which reminded me of the beauty of live work, and makes me nostalgic for the loss of theatre so recently. Furthermore, Worn’s poignant exploration of worth is even more appropriate at this time when the arts are struggling to justify their own worth.

Worn is an exquisite exploration of body, time, and space, speaking to the world on many different levels by portraying a poignant message of valuing all bodily experiences and transformations within a world that is defined by scrupulous criticism and Instagram culture.

Writer Biography: Chloe Snelgrove is a dance artist, a writer, and a training yoga teacher based in the South East. She has a degree in dance and her work specialises in the contemporary dance and looks at the intrinsic links between nature and the moving body.


Chloe's Website

STATE by Daniel Navarro Lorenzo

by Chloe Snelgrove

STATE is a chapter of work from Daniel Navarro Lorenzo’s A Fragile Geography. Performed live and streamed digitally from Dancebase in Edinburgh. STATE is a tangible conversation between two bodies who explore the nature of belonging, and how power can dominate physical instinct and connection.

The two dancers, Daniel and Mary Mannion, inhabit the performance space. Their bodies are physically connected yet emotionally detached, constantly avoiding one another’s gaze. As they shift between supporting and being supported, they become entangled as one image, as if they are two parts of the same thing. The movement is grounded, as if the body is almost stuck in a place it has no power over.

Within this grounded state and enriched experience of togetherness, the dancers both resonate with a desire for an alternate reality to the one they inhabit. The spellbinding shapes of their mingling limbs, passing through repeated motions of stillness and vigour, move swiftly from tension to release and back again. This dynamic use of tension, effortlessly converging with momentary release, produces a tentative dialogue throughout the duet through their shared state. This feature of the choreography provides the opportunity for contemplating the notion of belonging and its confliction between true identity, and, furthermore, how influences of power can affect present actions and ultimately who you are.

Despite the conventional female and male partnering within the piece, which could lead to predictability, the dancers absorbed the attention of the audience through the oscillating rhythm of their bodies, continuously meeting and departing. The dancers move like magnets, unravelling from one another’s limbs, equipped to then fuse back together again. The choreography itself ripples in worm-like motions, swiftly transforming from explosive jumps to surges of slow motion. Recurrent themes of power and oppression greet the eye constantly throughout the piece within the repeated use of the head, or weighty and dynamic hands came up and over the body, pushing the other to the ground in a forceful and repeated action. This visual image of physicalised oppression intensifies the emergent tension within the piece, whilst leaving an abundant space for imagination and wonder.

Overall, STATE is a dynamic and intriguing piece, which negotiates internal experiences through physicalised and embodied responses. Within these responses, the performance allows the audience to contemplate what forms state and power take on, leading to a universal understanding that power marks the body.

Writer Biography: Chloe Snelgrove is a dance artist, a writer, and a training yoga teacher based in the South East. She has a degree in dance and her work specialises in the contemporary dance and looks at the intrinsic links between nature and the moving body.


Chloe's Website

Introducing... Antigone, Interrupted by Scottish Dance Theatre

Introducing... Antigone, Interrupted by Scottish Dance Theatre by Laura Booth Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted is an intimate digital adaption of Joan Clevillé’s modern take on the greek tragedy Antigone. A collage of footage from the original production alongside live scenes performed at home by Solène Weinachter, are integrated with detailed information on their process in the studio and a live Q&A with the audience. Solène’s physicality and voice remarkably transforms throughout the performance as she embodies the hearts, minds and beliefs of each character. First introducing the grieving Antigone, she reaches out a hand, sourcing strength, before clenching her fists in rage and pumping her biceps. Antigone is determined to do what she believes is right and to bury her brother’s body, even if it is wrong in the eyes of her leader. Joan describes Antigone as a “female body on the frontline” fighting oppression and compares her to Rosa Parks. Her qualities can be recognised in the many people today standing for long awaited change and equality. I imagine Solène’s powerful and heart wrenching chameleon-like journey will be even more emotive in-person. Nonetheless, the digital element of the performance creates a very personal experience for the audience. At times, Solène is so close to the camera that she seems to whisper in our ear. We feel as though she is talking directly to us as we form our opinion of who we would stand by. Joan expresses that although Antigone was written in 441BC he found the play’s themes of protest, injustice and abuse of power to be starkly similar to today’s social issues. Audiences are offered the opportunity to reflect upon their actions and how they wish to engage with systemic contemporary injustices. This includes, to name but a few examples, the Black Lives Matter movement, the blindness to catastrophic effects of climate change and outdated laws which no longer befit our society, such as countries who still deem it illegal for women to have abortions. These reflections are supported by Joan and Solène holding a Q&A, offering a greater sense of connection despite being physically apart. One audience member posed the question: what are we doing to stand up and support what we believe in? A question to be continuously reflected upon, as small individual changes can gather to form mass global transformation. Crucially, Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted, asks you to meet yourself, your morals and bravery in a time that the world is yearning for kindness and systematic change. You step away asking, how am I showing up in the world? Writer Biography: Laura Booth is a Scottish dance artist and yoga teacher, drawn to the possibilities of play and healing within movement. @laurie__j Introducing... Antigone, Interrupted by Scottish Dance Theatre by Jenna Corker Waiting eagerly behind my laptop screen, anticipating the start of Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted by Joan Clevillé, I am reminded of the excitement live dance work evokes and the buzz that surrounds theatrical experiences. This work, performed by dancer Solène Weinachter, retells the story of the Greek tragedy Antigone, written in 440 BC at a time when theatre was pivotal to exploring what it meant to be human. While this new socially distanced, digital age of theatre may seem somewhat alien, it follows on from a long history of constantly adapting theatre spaces.

In this online adaption we meet key characters Antigone and her sister Ismene, as well as key themes such as bravery and disobedience. Solène begins the performance with her fist enacting the beating rhythm of a heart and through the screen we are captivated. Solène speaks and her body echoes a few beats behind. This off-kilter rhythm divides the voice and body; they become separate storytelling entities in themselves. Joan and Solène have stripped back the art of live performance down to the body, using not only its shape but the inner sounds from flesh, bones and organs in the soundtrack. The retelling of Antigone through Solène alone transforms her body into a vessel, a case that carries the many characters of Antigone.

Ismene is unphased by the prospect of her brother’s body not being buried; her indifference is reflected in Solène’s slow, elongated speech, as she hangs on every syllable as if her voice is leaning backwards over a chair. Antigone, in contrast, is enraged, and determined to make things right. It is here we see the capabilities of Solène’s storytelling skills as she jumps between the two characters.

The minimal set and costume design further highlight the power of Solène’s performance as she draws on the viewers imagination with her lone body to give each character depth and texture. The strength of Solène’s performance is an ode to storytelling and its ability to expand on, and paint two sides of any argument, giving time and space to different voices. These extracts from Introducing Antigone act more as a preview rather than a substitute and stir further excitement for the full viewing of the live work.

Writer Biography: Jenna is an independent dance artist currently based in Edinburgh. Her work often includes text or spoken word and writing forms a large part of her practice, helping her to think, reflect and plan.


clearing by Laura Booth & Katie Taylor

by Jenna Corker clearing by Laura Booth and Katie Taylor beautifully weaves together individual explorations submitted in response to three simple prompts, for example – ‘Take your bare feet on a journey’. Inspired by the coastline, Laura and Katie carefully devised these open-ended prompts to welcome everyone to get involved and ‘play’, no matter where in the world they found themselves. The end result is an exquisite onscreen collection and insight into the multitude of ways people of all ages can explore and play.

clearing also takes the viewer on a journey into the endless possibilities of what screendance can be. Movement is present throughout, but the piece goes beyond the moving body on screen to include text, spoken word, images and drawings. The submission of illustrations and sketches at times mimics the layout of a graphic novel. The story of ‘hairy toes’ coupled with footage of anonymous feet that could be either of the artists or could be a contributor’s, brings about the feeling of a ‘by-chance’ story unfolding, making it somewhat fictional and even more magical. The rhythm of the film ebbs and flows and one of the most mesmerising moments occurs when a sample of vocals is repeated to form a melody and paired with mirroring images.

There is a real tactile response to seeing the many bodies on screen exploring different surfaces and landscapes: footprints in the sand, hair blowing in the wind, skin meeting the sea. Psychology shows us that what we see or perceive directly influences how we feel and what we do. Watching clearing, I found myself inspired to move and create. As well as the deep comfort felt viewing clearing, the film itself acts as a prompt and banishes ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in dance, extending an inclusive invitation for all to get involved.

Writer Biography: Jenna is an independent dance artist currently based in Edinburgh. Her work often includes text or spoken word and writing forms a large part of her practice, helping her to think, reflect and plan.


Reflective Pieces

Julia Zlotnick

The Citymoves DanceLive Festival shows how well dance can be exhibited through the digital platform. Despite the recent increase of accessible online dance content, unfortunately a lot of orginisations haven’t quite mastered presenting digital dance and forget the importance of creating a shared experience for the viewer.

The DanceLive Festival showcased a variety of great performances paired with artist Q&As. The festival also screened various short films in the Aberdeen Art Gallery. On DanceLive’s Dance Writing Programme, we had an open ticket to all performances and Q&As as well as an opportunity to discuss our experience of the previous day’s performances in an online open forum discussion each morning with our fellow dance writers. The QA element to the festival made the experience more enriching and immersive, allowing the audience to engage with the artists. Additionally, the morning online forums for the writers, created a community feel amongst us. Having a virtual space for people to get to know each other and discuss their engagement with the dance works was a truly wonderful experience.

This festival strengthened my view that in order to gain the most from a dance performance we should engage with it fully. There are many ways organisations can facilitate an experience in which the audience can engage more fully while watching dance digitally. For example, they can create easy access to programme notes, artists’ websites and social media handles, showcase footage of rehearsals, trailers or interviews, as well as setting up Q+As and spaces to discuss work. The DanceLive Festival also highlighted the importance of talking to other people about the shared experience of watching a dance performance; experiences are often more meaningful and memorable when shared with others. This festival is a shining beacon of how to present and enhance the digital dance experience.

Writer Biography: Julia Zlotnick is a creative practitioner and interdisciplinary artist, who works predominantly as a performance maker across dance, theatre and comedy. Julia also enjoys writing and editing short copy, scripts, interviews and dance reviews.


Angelos Angelidis

This past week I have been thinking about Rebeca Hilton’s concept of “dancerness” which is an attitude towards life, or a “je ne sais quoi” as they would say in France. Dancerness is a way of approaching the new and the other as if they were a pair of boots and we were meant to slowly slide our feet into them. Wiggle in the toes, adjust the heel: how do they feel? Looking good, I bet you’re ready to flow! And as we dance around in these new shoes, as our feet mould into them, we feel like a different person, our proprioception changes.

proprioception (noun)

the process in which nerve endings in the muscles and joints are stimulated (= made to operate) when the body moves, so that a person is aware of their body's position

- Cambridge Dictionary

For me DanceLive2020 has been a vessel of dancerness, a container of iterations of our past, present and possible futures. As well as creating a sense of tranquillity and grounding within the chaos, the festival’s pieces recreated the sense of touch in our minds. They brought to the fore a craving for intimacy that we are all thirsty for during the pandemic. I remember after Janine Harrington’s piece Practice Presentation: Screensaver Series, there was a comment by one of the attendees about how they were shielding for some time and how much joy it brought them to witness touching on their screen. As part of the same show, Vanessa Abreu delivered a short exercise in symmetrical movement. Exploring the possibilities of movement from a seated position I imagined myself having octopus tentacles. Despite the constraint of not being able to move the lower half of my body, my senses tried to expand beyond the walls of my room touching and momentarily feeling with my suckers a fleeting world that I am never going to fully grasp.

Similarly the festival’s screenings, workshops and Q&As gave us the chance to expand a little, take in a breath of fresh air (in the case of Laura Booth’s and Katie Taylor’s clearing, we were invited to literally take in some fresh air by the beach) and feel connected. From the cheeky meanderings of Penthouse Hickies, to the intimacies explored through Katrina McPherson and Harold Rheaume long-distance collaborations, to Shaun Stickland’s insights into the impacts of mental health issues on a person, we are reminded that we are all spinning around the same sun, all facing different versions of the same questions and conundrums.

Overall, despite physical distancing, Citymoves managed to create a lovely space for people to come together and witness, be curious, learn and feel, all of which are vital to keep us sane and hopeful in the midst of an era when our governments are constantly failing us. The capacity to keep accepting shifts in our perspectives and putting on new (metaphorical) shoes at times of hardship, makes changes in life more bearable, easier to deal with and embrace. It’s like a dancer improvising, following a rhythm, a rhythm beyond their control, fearlessly!

Let’s keep improvising, let’s keep dancing and watching and listening, because our bodies are our truest homes - and they can’t take that away from us!

Writer Biography: Angelos has been exploring dance and dance writing independently since he graduated with a degree in human geography. He is currently a writer for Dance Art Journal and is fascinated by the transgressive and therapeutic possibilities of movement and words and their relationship to the human body. @rebelliuschaperone

Jenna Corker

From live to digital and back again

Over the last ten years there have been major developments in the way audiences view live theatre work. Many theatres have moved performances into the digital domain, both through public spaces such as cinemas, and our homes via online platforms. This evolution has been further propelled by the global pandemic and restrictions put in place on performance spaces, leaving producers little choice but to embrace digital technologies.

In acknowledging this fundamental shift, one cannot overlook the ripples of change that are occurring around access. Online theatre presents us with the chance to reduce geographical bias, ableism, and financial barriers. However, this can only happen when marginalised viewers and artists are collaboratively involved in the planning and production of online events.

Citymoves Dance Agency took an active approach to improve accessibility for all when producing DanceLive 2020. Events across the festival included live BSL interpretation both during performances and Q&A sessions, while Audio Described performances were made available to stream – giving viewers the option to make sensory adjustments and pause for breaks. Captioning of work helped to remove language barriers and improve access for those who are d/Deaf.

But of course, digital does not automatically equal accessible, and online spaces bring their own barriers to engagement. Whilst 79% of adults reportedly own a smartphone, a fifth of the population are still without access to digital devices. Connectivity and demand on digital skills pose further obstacles, and these infrastructural problems which hinder access to live work online cannot be overcome by theatre producers alone.

Theatres and performance makers who are improving access for digital viewers aren’t employing radically new ideas. However, these considerations for audience access are rarely seen in staged productions. Why not? These opportunities should not be exclusive to online spaces, and online productions should not act as a quick solution to the barriers that exist in theatre spaces. Rather, as we slowly move back into old spaces, let’s take these learnings and steps towards inclusivity with us.

Writer Biography: Jenna is an independent dance artist currently based in Edinburgh. Her work often includes text or spoken word and writing forms a large part of her practice, helping her to think, reflect and plan.


Laura Booth

Writer Biography: Laura Booth is a Scottish dance artist and yoga teacher, drawn to the possibilities of play and healing within movement. @laurie__j

Chloe Snelgrove

After watching White & Givan’s contemporary dance film Worn, I was inspired by their physical pursuit of bodily value and worthiness. The piece strongly resonated with me on how important it is to find strength in vulnerability and how it is only when we acknowledge and accept these imperfections that we find strength. This witnessing of such strong physicality and conveyance of emotions also made me nostalgic at the loss of theatre so recently, and how much I miss the beauty that lives within live work. Worn’s message was delivered so poignantly that it stayed with me post-performance and reminded me of how we have lost, and continue to lose, appreciation for the arts sector.

With the recent lockdown(s), we have seen theatres and dance studios closing down all across the country. Jobs are being lost every day and the infrastructure of the arts itself is being destroyed, with freelance staff losing work and so many venues and organisations collapsing. However, the arts have been suffering long before the pandemic: we have seen massive cuts in government funding, the loss of creative subjects in educational settings and an overall lack of appreciation towards the creative world. Despite the entertainment industry’s massive contributions to not only the economy but also towards the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the people, we are still viewed as unviable.

It is infuriating as an artist to witness the continuous prioritisation of STEM subjects, and a barely existent elevation of creative subjects. It is infuriating to see subjects being ranked in unfair and unequal hierarchies, deeming science, finance, computing, and business to be above writing, performing, creating. Even at Colleges and Universities we are seeing a lack of offering creative courses, and the limited ones that do exist are deemed to be at the bottom of the chain. At my own university, my dance degree now no longer exists due to university cuts and more recently we have even seen Roehampton University also cutting the funds for performing arts, putting jobs at risk and damaging the future of research and education. As a dance student, I was always aware that my specialisation was seen as ‘lesser’; this was evident within the reduction of technique classes and cutting of modules that ran within the course. The conversations around the campus would usually reflect upon the perceived ‘easiness’ of my course: dance meant flailing around to the latest music, no reading, no writing, no books, no thought. This of course could not be further from the truth because dance is an academic subject. However, this stigma continues to lessen the chance of the arts’ survival within educational settings.

During a time of uncertainty, we all turned to being creative. The arts kept us grounded, connected, and gave us time to enjoy moments of creativity and exploration. Despite this, we continue to lack appreciation for these forms, especially as career choices. Countless of times, friends and even family have questioned what it is that I could be doing with a dance degree, confused as to how dance could be my chosen career when I could instead pursue teaching or nursing. This throwing of doubt when moving into the creative field is irrevocably damaging. Just because it is something that evokes enjoyment, and is something that we are passionate about, does not make it any less of a job.

Not only does the government need to endorse the importance of creativity, but we also need to transform our articulation and perspective of the arts. Every day we take the industry for granted. We all expect to be able to come home to a television full of films and programmes, to be able to listen to the radio or our favourite playlist, to be able to pick up a book or buy the local newspaper. We need to realise that behind all of this, are hard-working, skilled and talented people, who have spent years honing their crafts and often doing so for free or with very little pay. Does this commitment not deserve validation?

We need to restore the civic role of the arts, and start to look beyond the West End shows, the ballets, the cinema, and provide support for all the individuals that form the CREATIVE FORCE of this amazing sector. We need to revive and give space to the arts, allow it to be taught, fed, and valued as a worthy pathway, and support our local communities that are full of many artists who have fallen through the cracks during the pandemic. So many freelancers have lost out on grants or been ineligible for funding. I have struggled as someone who has just finished their degree and have received no support in transitioning out of student life into financial security.

We all indulge in the arts whether we realise it or not, therefore we must transform our dialogue and start this new conversation. Is there anything else that can evoke and convey such beauty, emotion, and wonder, and allow us as humans to move and be moved in whatever form we wish to experience? We must recognise that not only do we need to save the arts from collapse, but that we need to support the path for its future.

Writer Biography: Chloe Snelgrove is a dance artist, a writer, and a training yoga teacher based in the South East. She has a degree in dance and her work specialises in the contemporary dance and looks at the intrinsic links between nature and the moving body.


Chloe's Website

Mhairi Allan

The medium of film has a strong power of expression with which to convey messages to an audience. Different screens affect ways of looking, listening and responding to choreography as well as the individual discussions around the work itself. For me, this year’s online DanceLive Festival highlighted themes of connection; ideas and images of space, time, landscape and humanness connecting through the dancers and the choreography.

Space …

As a viewer, witnessing the short pieces of work on a large screen at the Aberdeen Art Gallery involved sharing the space with a transient audience of many different ages. What a privilege and feast for the senses, from being in a theatre normally surrounded by and feeling the energy of those witnessing the works (now denied to us), to the peace and stillness of the Cowdry Hall. The effect of this enhanced the presence of the dancers, some in distant lands creatively responding despite restrictions of movement across global space. For example, in #STATE by Daniel Navarro Lorenzo, the dancers moved in cities and inside homes, personal but familiar all negotiated by the same choreography.


Creative and collaborative relationships exist over time and distance between choreographers. Contexts are continually shifting and changing, and ideas develop and re- emerge. This was evident in the work between filmmakers Katrina McPherson and Harold Rheaum. Dance can continue after restrictions, and some of the work explored different outcomes, changes of pace, transitions, repetition, and rhythms, within personal and physical journeys that continue to re-evolve, interspersed with moments of stillness in this ‘new’ reality.


Many of the pieces of work engaged with, negotiated and connected with natural environments. For example, Robbie Synge's Forest Floor, and Katie Taylor's The Soul Species and The Free Three. There was a real sense of a close and sensitive connection and relationship with nature and its elements: land, sea, earth, air, and forests, all with their own rhythm, dynamic and textures. From the intimacy of the viewing up close on a laptop or stepping back to view on the big screen, my experience of witnessing the work constantly shifted.


There was a real sense of human connection, diversity and openness observed throughout the festival. The many discussions that asked creators questions on their process, of the struggles, effort, and uncertainty, or their shared feelings of isolation, resilience, and reaching out for more connections, were sprinkled with moments of humour. There was also a shared sense of exploring these connections through the physicality of the choreography. The intimacy of the camera revealed personal journeys, the brave and fragile, the rawness and struggles of mental health such as the journey portrayed by Shaun Stickland's in Frayed. Skye Reynolds and Susan Worsfold challenged and opened up the discussions around themes of death, grief, loss, acknowledging the fragility of the self in their work Alive. The intimacy of the camera throughout the festival also invited a closer connection to the body and the senses and emphasised how rich the medium of dance is with its different textures enhanced by and with relationships to choice of sounds, colour, light and music.

More than ever connections are needed as current restrictions discourage us from being together through our creative exchanges and interactions with others or through making work in shared spaces. Close connections between people are formed by bonds and interactions, bonds that grow from and are strengthened by mutual experiences. This year’s DanceLive Festival allowed distinct but mutual experiences of dance to continue to be shared and shaped this year through a virtual tour, keeping us connected to what matters.

Writer Biography: Mhairi Allan is an Aberdeen based, independent dance artist and Hatha Yoga teacher. Her movement research has been enriched through many collaborative partnerships, mediums and practices and she continues this exploration in her current work 'Listening to Birds'.

Youth Workshop

Worn Review by Zoë Maunder

Danced and choreographed by contemporary dance duo Errol White and Davina Givan, Worn is a striking, intimate piece, searching for beauty and acceptance for the marks and scars we all carry through life. Debuting in DanceLive 2020, this contemporary dance film - an adaptation of a work made for live theatre - was an unforgettable end to the festival. Worn begins with an eerily faint, electronic rendition of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (music by Tiago Cerqueira) - a looped recording of an unknown homeless man singing his tragically hopeful song on the streets of London, accompanied by a shifting chord sequence. White and Givan enter, holding tightly to one another and swaying side to side. They shuffle across the stage, which is lit up by a path of golden light that resembles cracks or veins. Worn is greatly inspired by the art of kintsugi – a Japanese art form wherein broken pottery is often mended by filling the cracks with gold in a celebration of the beauty of broken objects. Already from this opening the imagery is strong with the gold lighting resembling the patterns created on ceramics by kintsugi and the two performers clutching on to one another so tightly, as if bonded together. This mellow opening sets the atmosphere and the foundation for the style in which the rest of the piece grows. White and Givan shift through a sequence of poses, as if trying to find a way to fit together. One dancer is always leaning on or supported in some way by the other and yet there is a great deal of resistance both within the dancers’ own movements and between the two dancers. This resistance is maintained throughout much of the piece, creating a constant feeling of tension and discomfort. The interlinking pose sequence is repeated multiple times through the dance, each repetition being different in some way – faster, more free, jagged, separate – as if they keep returning to it to try again, each time more frantic than the last but without success. Returning to these movements makes it easier for the audience to watch the piece – Worn is a relatively heavy performance, but returning to something familiar helps the audience to not get lost or overwhelmed in the weight and intensity of the performance. One moment that particularly stands out is a sequence in which White, under a blue tinted spotlight, dances low to the floor, as if moving through clay or in an atmosphere much thicker than our own. Givan edges her way round the outside of the spotlight creating a square shape; upon reaching each corner, a golden strip of light appears, glowing on the floor, to map out her journey. Givan is committed to her movements to the point the audience can almost feel what she is feeling in this moment. She is hunched over, her hands rest just above her knees, as if some weight is bearing on her shoulders. She walks slowly and does not look up until the full golden square is formed. Throughout the piece, the lighting seems to be controlled by the dancers, as if they are painting it onto the floor - particularly in this moment. The gold outline surrounds the blue/white spotlight as gold surrounds ceramic pieces in kintsugi, while the performers seem to be broken in their movements and feeling the toll of being separated from each other; this leads me to question whether the gold is indeed helping to mend, or perhaps it represents what is keeping them apart. Altogether, the technical design and mesmerising performances come together to create an immersive experience that makes you think and is truly memorable. White and Givan’s connection is so strong, they almost become one. I am eager to see if they do make a live production – as they had originally planned - and how the piece will evolve through that transition. As a film, however, Worn is most definitely worth a watch and I enjoyed it greatly. Zoë Maunder is a current member of Fusion Youth Dance Company and past member of Pulse at Citymoves.

Worn Review by Rose Jones

White & Givan’s Worn was definitely one of my favourite dances of DanceLive 2020. It was thought provoking, intriguing and beautiful. My favourite part of the whole performance was the beginning, the darkness of the stage slowly melting away revealing mysterious figures that do not clearly portray any specific character, leaving you to question their position and figure out what they represent for yourself. The use of a folk song at the start definitely caught my curiosity, as well as helping to portray the themes of love, marriage and growing older beautifully through the age of the singer and the overall tone of the music. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect because the beginning was very slow and didn’t give much away, but a few minutes in and I was really enjoying it. The contrast between the slow gentle movements of the dancers interspersed with sudden bursts of activity was very interesting and I loved the many circular movements that the dancers incorporated into the choreography, perhaps symbolising the circle of life and drawing back to the theme of growing older. The way that the couple supported each other was captivating, as they seemed to be holding each other up and helping one another through the dance which I felt conveyed strong feelings of love and understanding between the two. The repetitive nature of the choreography was another aspect of this performance that I found intriguing and made me notice the small details of the movements that I wouldn’t normally have, forcing us to slow down and engaging the audience further. The grace of the performance was one of the things that made it so enjoyable. For instance, the woman swooping downwards like a diving bird, and then being pulled up was very beautiful, and the strong circular movement of the arms contrasting with slightly stilted movements on the floor added a layer of contrast to the dance that was stunning. If anyone has the chance to watch this dance, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Dance is inspirational, uplifting and an incredible form of expression: Worn is the perfect example of why dance is so important in portraying emotions and telling stories as well as a creative art that builds strong connections between others. Rose Jones is a current member of Fusion Youth Dance Company and past member of Pulse at Citymoves.

Worn Review by Katie Crabb


The provocative and breathtaking performance of Worn, performed and choreographed by Errol White and Davina Givan, mesmerized the audience with its repetitive slow movements and a dominant focus on floor work. The contemporary piece is inspired by the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi, which involves broken pottery being mended with gold and silver. The piece first develops atmospheres of tragedy and trauma, however as the piece continues, themes of depression and slow recovery are explored through the music choice, dramatic lighting and deliberate, graceful movements.

The stage is illuminated with constantly switching dim yellow lights connoting hope and recovery and deep, dark blue hues connoting tragedy and depression. The sound in the piece morphs between the despairing song ‘Jesus blood never failed me yet’ by Gavin Bryars and a minor pulsing beat with jarring notes and modern crackling. This creates a haunting atmosphere of mystery which develops the plot of the story from the very opening section where Errol White is seen to be protectively embracing a traumatised Davina Givan with her back turned away from him. The movementis generally slow and takes place predominantly on the floor with rolling and sweeping motions. It is also sometimes deliberately awkward, as when White and Givan seem to try to embrace but ultimately fail to.

Themes of bad mental health and depression are furthered when the soundtrack switches to speech where a man describes the embarrassment associated with depression. The monologue is used to show the historical beliefs and views about mental health, in depression in particular, and how times have changed since then for the better. White and Givan portray this change in attitude through the use of levelling and contrast in the piece, while ultimately showing that depression is difficult to recover from and recurring. When Givan repeatedly twists and turns on the floor, it demonstrates someone struggling with depression, the downward movement linking to decreasing mental health.

Overall, Worn has multiple different layers, all explored beautifully by White and Givan’s intricate dancing. The piece is very effective and clearly displays a story to the audience while allowing each person to have a different interpretation of the meaning behind the haunting movements.

Katie Crabb is a current member of Fusion Youth Dance Company and past member of Pulse at Citymoves.