CriticalDance Forum

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:36 am ]


Bird Song Photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Bird Song and White Man Sleeps

Mon 26 - Wed 28 September, 7.30pm
Sadler’s Wells: 0870 737 7737
Tickets £5 - £24

Meet the Artist: Tue 27 with Siobhan Davies. Free to ticket holders after the performance.

Jerwood Proms: Stand Up For Dance for only £5 all performances

Siobhan Davies continues to be at the forefront of contemporary dance and has earned iconic status as the UK's leading female choreographer.

Bird Song, Siobhan Davies Dance Company's acclaimed work, seen in Dance Umbrella 2004, is an arresting collaboration with visual artist David Ward. Davies has now re-worked the piece for a larger stage, using glorious light-filled projections above and behind the dancers. This beautiful and extraordinary work is set to Andy Pink's eclectic sound score which resonates with the song of the Pied Butcher bird.

First performed in Dance Umbrella '88, White Man Sleeps, set to Kevin Volans' live score of the same name, is SDDC's signature work. A contemporary classic, this is SDDC's first revival of it since 1997.

‘Davies' marvelous dancers engage with an intimacy that is sometimes dignified, sometimes tender and always gently erotic.’ The Guardian

Bird Song and White Man Sleeps are Dance Umbrella commissions.

Author:  Alex R [ Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:50 am ]
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I've got my ticket for tomorrow night, looking forward to it!
will post a review afterwards.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:30 am ]
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Great stuff, Alex.

Author:  Audience feedback 26/9 [ Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:42 am ]
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Sue: I always enjoy Sue Davies' work - all that intelligence and deliciously rich movement. It's a nice touch that this double-bill is a celebration of the opening of the dedicated building for her Company.

Tariq: I was disappointed as the pieces seemed to lack an overall structure. I saw the longer version of "Birdsong" in The Linbury and although it benefited at Sadler's from a reduction from 75 minutes to 45, seeing it in the round in The Linbury did introduce another dimension that I missed here. I've got a lot of tickets for Dance Umbrella and I'm particularly looking forward to both the Mark Morris mixed bills.

Marie: I admire the dancers and the crafting, but somehow it seems full of English restraint and, perhaps because I'm from another country, I struggle to really like her work.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Sep 28, 2005 3:26 am ]
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Two contrasted works, beautifully danced, especially "Birdsong". I appreciate Sue Davies' work more as time goes by, but you have to accept that emotional engagement with the performance is unlikely. I'll write more later.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:00 am ]
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Siobhan Davies
By Donald Hutera for The Times

Siobhan Davies is on the verge of one of the biggest developments in her 30-odd-year career. Late in 2005 the esteemed British choreographer will open her own purpose-built dance studios at Elephant and Castle in London.

To mark the occasion Davies has coupled her company’s most recent work, Bird Song from last year, and one of its inaugural creations, White Man Sleeps from 1988. As each was originally a Dance Umbrella commission, it is fitting that both are being presented within the context of the same festival now.

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Author:  Alex R [ Thu Sep 29, 2005 4:33 pm ]
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Last night I got to see the SDDC for the first time. Unfortunately it has been about 18 months since I last looked at my lecture notes for White Man Sleeps so I can no longer pretend that I know a lot about the piece and Davies' history, but i hope that won't matter!

White Man Sleeps is a piece that clearly evolves over time. This was the first time I had seen it live but had seen the video of it, (made in 1998 I think), but I realised that a review of WMS written in 1988, when the piece was created, cannot apply to the 2005 performance. The movements have changed, showing how Davies likes her dancers to create their own styles, and the music, originally played by a string quartet, is now played with 2 harpsicords, percussion, and a viola da gamba, which although for the majority of the piece produced a smoother sound than the quartet, it meant the end section was weaker and less gritty.
As for the movement itself, although having evolved, still retained the same feel and style that WMS has. this piece is a good example of demonstrating how Davies choreographs, (explained in the program notes), as you can clearly see the foundation movements that structure the piece, most noteably the 'animal head' stance.
Although it was clear that the dancers had grasped the piece well, on occasions it did seem that Mariusz Raczynski was just going through the movements.
Overall, this was not a perfect performance, but still highly enjoyable to watch.

Birdsong was a piece i was completely unfamiliar with, and was a perfect companion to WMS, as while WMS had the dancers spread out using all the space, Birdsong focused on the dancers staying together in groups in one area of the stage. the start of this piece seemed to be comical, the dancers fluttering about as a group, making animal movements, and playing "musical statues" with the music, whether this was intentional or not i don't know. Unfortunatley I cannot comment on the significance and meaning of everything in the piece, but there were some pretty motifs and sections throughout, most notably when all the dancers moved around the stage in seemingly random directions, occasionally striking stances for a few seconds, before moving on again.
In this performance I couldn't fault the dancers on their abilities.
The costumes had a striking contrast with the various images projected onto the stage and backdrop, and the bizarre score by Andy Pink included all kinds of strange effects, including, rather unsuprisingly, birdsongs.
Again a very enjoyable performance, although I'm not sure I would have been able to fully enjoy the original full length version, I thought 45 minutes was enough.

Overall, a good evening, money well spent, and worth the 2 hour train journey to London, which for me is all that matters!

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:55 am ]
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Thanks a lot, alex, especially for the comparison with the earler incarnation of "White Man Sleeps". I remember when Siobhan Davies was invited to reviving "Sounding" for Rambert and at a "meet the choreographer" evening, she told us that she had agreed only on condition that she could start almost from scratch again with much input from the new dancers. But then Petipa was always changing steps to suit dancers as well.

nevertheless, I am pleased that we have the video of "White Man Sleeps". With the filming of contemporary dance in sharo decline, we will have few records of great work for the future.

Author:  Alex R [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 4:33 am ]
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Actually the night I was there they were recording WMS and Birdsong, hopefully the recordings will become avaliable to the public and not just stashed in some archive.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 4:35 am ]
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Bird Song / White Man Sleeps
By John Percival for The Stage

Siobhan Davies’s latest work Bird Song started with exactly that, the singing of the Australian Pied Butcher. Around it, composer Andy Pink has constructed a highly disparate score - including many musical quotations and some harsh scraping noise - proceeding from initial fury to finally peaceful settlement. Dancers less physically skilled or musically gifted could not have responded, as these do, to the tempi and emotions Davies has encouraged them to hear in the piece. Surely there isn’t a stronger or more creative team around.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:02 am ]
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Intimacy gets lost in space
Sometimes keeping it simple - and small-scale - works best. By Jann Parry for The Observer

This year's Dance Umbrella festival has got off to a low-key start, with Siobhan Davies, like William Forsythe at Sadler's Wells before her, presenting intimate works in a theatre too large for them. Both choreographers want audiences to appreciate how closely involved the dancers have been in the creative process, investing their own ideas.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:05 am ]
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They look good, but they’re hardly gripping
The latest pieces from Rambert and Siobhan Davies offer mixed rewards, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times

The Siobhan Davies Dance Company returned to Sadler’s Wells on Monday for Dance Umbrella, with a revival of the first work she made for her new group in 1988, White Man Sleeps, and her latest creation from last year, Bird Song.

For the former, David Buckland’s designs and Peter Mumford’s lighting create a floor of changing colours and stripy patterns, like African mats, which I doubt the standing audience at the front (these were Jerwood Prom performances) got any view of.

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Author:  kurinuku [ Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:59 am ]
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Time flies when you're feeling clammy and claustrophobic
by JENNY GILBERTFIELD for the Independent

The repeat swinging of a limb primes your ears for the music's gamelan clamour. It's all very laid-back, giving the impression that Davies' supple, experienced dancers are working at a fraction of their capacity - beautiful but also soporific.

published:October 4, 2005
more in the second part of the linked article

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Nov 15, 2005 4:03 am ]
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White Man Sleeps/Bird Song
By Nina Miall for Online Review London

The coupling of 'White Man Sleeps' with 'Bird Song' in this programme at Sadler's Wells is interesting in that the two works book-end Siobhan Davies' choreographic output thus far. 'White Man Sleeps' was the inaugural work choreographed for the newly-formed Siobhan Davies Dance Company (SDDC) in 1988 and has been remounted here, while 2004's 'Bird Song' concludes the transition into the company's swanky new headquarters at Elephant and Castle.

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