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A year of dancing, teaching, study and music…

On a quiet day in January at the Ivy Arts Centre in University of Surrey Jennifer Jackson, Nicholas Minns and I danced for Sonia York-Pryce as part of her research into ageism and the mature dancer, improvising on her material. This enjoyable experience resulted in short individual interpretations, which along with those of other dancers in UK and Australia Sonia edited into an atmospheric compilation, Interprète/Inappropriate Behaviour. Shown to acclaim as an installation at the Whitebox Gallery of Queensland College of Art at Griffith University in August it subsequently won the Gold Medal in the first ever Joie de Vivre Dance Film Competition here in the UK. You can read more about this and find links to the films here

Dancing continued in February with a further performance of Two old instruments with viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees in the impressive Hive library in Worcester; read about this here. We prepared for this with rehearsal at Didcot’s welcoming Cornerstone Arts Centre; and were back there again in June, this time with Jennifer Jackson and violinist Jenna Sherry, to work on another musical collaboration. Set to Ravel’s beautiful and richly complex Sonata for violin and cello, inflect, unravel received an informal showing in the Church Hall at Holy Trinity Barnes on 17th June before its first formal performance on 18th June as part of Donald Hutera’s vibrant GOlive Festival at the Giant Olive Theatre in Kentish Town. Read More

Hard to believe that two weeks has already passed since the performance of inflect, unravel at Donald Hutera’s GOlive Festival at the Giant Olive Theatre above the very agreeable Lion and Unicorn pub in Gaisford Street, Kentish Town.  A packed house, and even more packed dressing room, for this informal eclectic closing evening where Jennifer Jackson and I along with musicians Jonathan Rees and Jenna Sherry shared the bill with a rich range of dance and performance: Mamoru Iriguchi’s wacky multi-layered 4D Cinema: Screen 2, Alice Labant’s fluid solo Je m’appelle Reviens accompanied by the mysterious swooshings of her washing machine cycle; heartwarming Corali Dance Company in a summery quartet, powerfully brave Hanna Wroblewski’s dark solo My Heart became this Monster, Mara Vivas’ cool gestural Triptych and Fred Gehrig’s quizzically suggestive A Tree.  Great to be part of this vibrant sharing of new ideas in an intimate space, ingeniously lit and cheerfully compered by Donald Hutera.  The future of GOlive at this location has been somewhat up in the air of late but, with luck and perseverance, it will continue here as well as elsewhere; there are imminent dates at the Oxford Playhouse Burton Taylor Studio July 15-18 and Chesil Theatre, Winchester July 24.  More information to follow…

Sharing inflect, unravel at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Barnes - photograph by Adrian Hobbs

Sharing inflect, unravel at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Barnes – photograph by Adrian Hobbs

Grateful thanks are due to Holy Trinity Church in Barnes which afforded free space for us to rehearse in their peaceful church hall; on Wednesday 17th June we did an informal showing there for local parishioners, well received and followed by tea, chat and strawberries.  It has been great to be able to work on this piece in gorgeous studios at the Royal Ballet Senior School in Covent Garden, at the Ivy Arts Centre of Surrey University and once again at Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot.  We hope that there will be further opportunities to perform it, and there is another movement from Ravel’s lovely work to be developed; watch this space…

Delighted to report that Sonia York-Pryce has recently finished editing the video footage taken during her visit  to the UK in January, as part of primary research and creative practice for her PhD research project Ageism and the Mature Dancer.  Under the title Inappropriate Behaviour she has made short films of 8 dancers’ interpretations of an original movement motif of hers, set to contemplative music by American composer Bill Ryan.  Here is a link to her short compilation Interprète – the beginning featuring the British contingent; myself, Jennifer Jackson, Nicholas Minns and Ann Dickie:

https://vimeo.com/119615078

And see the links below for our varying takes on her original material:

https://vimeo.com/131751942 – Susie Crow

https://vimeo.com/131639723 – Jennifer Jackson

https://vimeo.com/131616011 – Nicolas Minns

You can find out more about Bill Ryan and his music here

GOlive is a dance and performance festival curated by the arts journalist Donald Hutera (The Times, etc) and produced by George Sallis, founder of the Giant Olive Theatre. It launched in autumn 2013 as an eclectic, intimate and playfully unpredictable platform for dance-based and other work by performing artists of all stripes. GOlive’s base has been the Lion and Unicorn pub theatre in Kentish Town, which is also where the latest and laboratorial edition is in progress until June 18.

Hutera is hosting each evening during a nine-night season where the spotlight will be on dance and movement with special emphasis on the work of women spanning the generations.  Under the name of BIG Ballets, long standing colleague Jennifer Jackson and I are delighted to be performing once again at GOlive on Thursday 18th June in inflect, unravel – a dance and music collaboration exploring Ravel’s Sonata for violin and cello with violinist Jenna Sherry and cellist Jonathan Rees (viola da gamba player from Two old instruments).

Jenna Sherry  and Jennifer Jackson rehearsing inflect, unravel at Ivy Arts Centre Guildford

Jenna Sherry and Jennifer Jackson rehearsing inflect, unravel at Ivy Arts Centre Guildford

You can find out more about the Festival programme and how to book here

Read Rebecca JS Nice’s review of Jennifer’s and my previous appearance at GOIive in 2013 here

And read Nicholas Minns’ review of Late Work here

We all look forward to seeing you there!

Susie

To Worcester by train on Saturday 7th February for another performance of Two old instruments with Jonathan. Our second show in a library, this time in the intimate Studio of The Hive, Worcester. This state of the art building opened in 2012 combines the public library, University of Worcester library and access to County Council services in a single open plan structure. On a Saturday afternoon it was exhilarating to see it teeming with families visiting its extensive and welcoming children’s library spaces with their panoramic outlook, and using its friendly café; this striking piece of architecture evidently establishing itself among local people as a valuable and homely amenity.

The Hive, Worcester

The Hive, Worcester

Our evening show was the first dance event in a developing programme of small-scale performances. Afterwards our small but appreciative audience, including two young children, asked interested questions about the viola da gamba, unknown to most, and about the emergence of ballet in the eighteenth century… we felt encouraged by their engagement and concentration – and fascination with footwork!

Susie and Jonathan rehearsing Two old instruments, Diamond Studio, Corenerstone

Susie and Jonathan rehearsing Two old instruments, Diamond Studio, Corenerstone

Preparations for this performance took us twice to Didcot where we benefitted from the Cornerstone Arts Centre’s enlightened offer of reduced price rehearsal space in their bright purpose built dance studio, providing an ideal working environment of professional standard, cheaper than anything available in either Oxford or London. Cornerstone offers a cheering example of a local authority investing in a well equipped and centrally located arts facility, with friendly staff and an open door policy. A big thank you – welcoming artists in to use the facilities at off-peak times offers a lifeline to small scale initiatives developing and refining their work.

Here’s hoping that over time performing artists can become embedded, and audiences for dance and music built in these aspirational public spaces…

Susie

TOI Cornerstone Susie & Jonathan 27 jan 15

Delighted to announce a forthcoming performance of Two old instruments by viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees and myself on Saturday 7th February.  This piece celebrating the music of 18th century viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel was premiered last year and performed in a variety of venues.  Once again we are in a library, this time Worcester’s state of the art The Hive which since its opening in 2012 has uniquely brought together both the city’s public library and University of Worcester Library in a stunning honey-coloured new building.

Susie and Jonathan in Two old instruments at Braziers Park, phot by Dulcy Lott

Susie and Jonathan in Two old instruments at Braziers Park, photo by Dulcy Lott

We will be performing in the intimate Studio at 7.30pm as part of a developing programme of events, download the Spring brochure here:

BiSS The Hive Whats On Jan-April 2015

Booking details can be found on page 23, and online here.  Tickets for Two old instruments can be purchased in person from the Information Pod on Level 1 of The Hive, or can be booked by calling 01905 765576 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm).  Find out more about Two old instruments, including further images, reviews and video clips here.

We look forward to seeing you there…

Susie

 

It is New Year’s Eve, so time once again to look back on the year and take stock before ringing in 2015… A useful exercise!

A year of performing, testing my limits as a “mature“ dancer, at a time when there seems to be gradually increasing interest in older performers. Two old instruments, my collaboration with viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees, was paired with Dances, Oracles, Mysteries devised and performed by artists of Barefoot Opera in the double bill Visible Music for a mini tour of performances in Bristol, Shoreditch and Oxford at the end of April. Subsequently Jonathan and I also performed twice in the welcoming setting of St Helen’s Central Library in May.  Response has been most positive and we already have a further performance of this adaptable piece confirmed for another library, this time in the intimate studio space of state-of-the-art The Hive in Worcester on 7th February. You can find full information about this project here. Read More

 

Young audience members get to try Jonathan's viola da gamba

Young audience members get to try Jonathan’s viola da gamba

On Saturday 17th May Ballet in Small Spaces performed Two old instruments in St Helen’s Central Library as part of the Cultural Hubs programme of Arts in Libraries funded by Arts Council England.  This programme is designed to encourage those who might not approach arts venues such as theatres and concert halls to sample arts events and performances in the more relaxed and familiar setting of the public library.  St Helen’s boasts a spacious and light library building, with tall windows and a dignified presence in Victoria Square at the town centre by the Town Hall.  Jonathan and I were made welcome by Jess Bowstead and Owen Hutchings of the Cultural Hubs programme; we did two performances in the children’s library, an open space with a good floor surrounded by chairs and a couple of comfy sofas. Our first a family friendly show attended by children and parents, with some commentary and explanation and a chance for a group of young admirers to have a go on Jonathan’s viol, while I discussed shoes and costume with adult viewers and gave some instruction in the basic minuet step…

Learning the minuet step

Learning the minuet step

 

 

Ballet live broadcast on Radio Merseyside

Ballet live broadcast on Radio Merseyside

An interview with Radio Merseyside and then another complete performance, with more questions at the end.  This was the first time that BiSS has performed in a library, but hopefully not the last: it was delightful to present the work in this intimate and informal setting; and we have had some lovely feedback comments, here is a small sample:

“Absolutely amazing.  This is the first time I’ve seen dance so close – loved it!”

“A lovely way to spend time on a Saturday.  We liked the music and the instrument as we had never seen one before.  Very informative.”

“Brilliant I loved everything about it!  The spoken information was informative but not overwhelming + the dancing is so graceful and ideally suited the space.”

“Fabulous interesting piece.  I know nothing about ballet or classical music but enjoyed it.  Really nice hearing the artists speak about the work.”

Thank you St Helen’s!

Ballet in Small Spaces on tour… Delighted to give details of further performances of Two old instruments on Saturday 17th May in St Helen’s Central Library as part of the St Helen’s Arts in Libraries Programme supported by Arts Council England through Lottery funding:

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments - photo by Dulcy Lott

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments – photo by Dulcy Lott

Jonathan Rees and Susie Crow of Ballet in Small Spaces have been delving into the music and dance  of the 18th century, inspired by the salon pieces of composer and viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel.  Their unique performance infoms a contemporary interpretation reflecting on both history and memory.  The viol or viola da gamba is one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments that first appeared in the mid to late 15th century, and was most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

2.00pm Afternoon family focused shortened performance and talk:   Grab the opportunity to speak with the professional dancer and musician and enjoy seeing them perform up close.  Listen and learn about the history and stories behind the instrument, music and dancing.

5.00pm  Early evening full performance:  Share an intimate and delightful early evening of music and dance collaboration, with top performers conjuring forgotten pasts into present life through unusual repertoire…

St Helen’s Central Library, The Gamble Building, Victoria Square, St Helen’s WA10 1DYY, Merseyside

Tickets can be reserved for FREE by emailing artsservice@sthelens.gov.uk or by calling 01744 677087  (You will be asked to contribute what you can afford on the day; 1p, £1, £10, no amount is too big or too small)

Flyer here:

Find out more about St Helen’s Council Arts Service here – and what’s on in St Helen’s here

Here are links to two short videos of extracts from Two old instruments made by talented video maker Chris Atkins and filmed on location at Braziers Park in March.  Still time to book tickets for forthcoming performances as part of the programme Visible Music, see information here.

http://youtu.be/ik2rXbZSq34  Strong Women

http://youtu.be/hmjb5vqthUk  Portrait

Enjoy!

DSC_0262 Two old inst de Valois pose away web version

Two old instruments photo by Dulcy Lott

Looking through Dulcy Lott’s pictures from the Two old instruments photo shoot at picturesque Brazier’s Park on a sunny spring day in March; here is one to give a flavour of the piece in an intimate historical setting.  First glimpse of costumes by designer Ellen Nabarro, the dress realised by expert maker Roz Culling.

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments at Brazier's Park

Susie Crow and Jonathan Rees in Two old instruments at Brazier’s Park