Tag Archives: Two old instruments

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

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…


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…



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!

Following performances at Bristol Music Club, St Leonard’s Shoreditch and at the North Wall in Oxford here are links to some reviews and responses to Two old instruments

“Dance and music in perfect partnership” – read David Bellan’s review for the Oxford Times here

“…memory danced as a reminder for us all…” – read Barbara Berrington’s response here

“…fascinating… responsive communication…” – read Alexandra Stacey’s impressions here

In the Financial Times Clement Crisp writes:

“Susie Crow, formerly a fine dancer and choreographer with the Royal Ballet’s second troupe, now makes dance in spaces where ballet might seem cramped – but with her skilled creations is not.  Latterly she has been producing stylish work with the viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees.  You can sample her creativity on YouTube or seek it out in live and vivid performance.  I admire her.”

Financial Times, May 10th/11th 2014  Critic’s Choice, Life and Arts section p14

“…simple, elegant and charming…” – read Emily Romain’s review for Oxford Dance Writers here

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 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.  Strong Women  Portrait


DSC_0262 Two old inst de Valois pose away web version

Two old instruments photo by Dulcy Lott

Art Jericho was packed yesterday evening for the opening of Antonia Bruce‘s Blue Moon exhibition of drawings fof dance.  The evening included brief performances by some of the dancers that Antonia has been drawing over the past months; a chance for spectators to see exactly what the artist has been striving to capture, and to see how Antonia’s evocative calligraphic images relate to and evoke real bodies in motion… here are a couple more of her drawings made in rehearsals of Two old instruments.  The exhibition continues until 11th May – and pictures are already selling fast…

Antonia Bruce Two old instruments drawing Susie rise

Allegretto by Antonia Bruce

Allegretto by Antonia Bruce

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