Thursday, 15 August 2019


Late night holiday catch up...
returning from a wonderful week vacation to news we had to leave our wonderful home at St Peters Hall, ( many thanks to them without their unstinting support over the years we may have closed) the end of an era! but on with the new and we already have a fantastic new space for dance on Fridays ( Shallal Dance Theatre) at St Erth Church hall and now we have a new Studio (for a time - more about that on another post)  at Krowji, we get 'the key ' on 22 August and move all the 'art stuff' in on 23rd!

However i"m sitting here uploading Barbara's great new film see FB page we now have the time in for Eden performance which will be in the Mediterranean biome - fun - love the smells in there...

Still haven't got to the point which is this:
 I also received, on holiday, feedback on the workshop for Continuum Dance ( who will perform in Embodied Space at Liskerett Centre, Liskeard) - thank you to Helen 

"I wanted to take a bit of time before giving you any feedback, not because I had any doubts about the session on Thursday, but because I wanted to try and think about what in particular it was that was so good.  

I’m not sure I’ve succeeded in all of that, but I did want to say that, first of all, everyone loved the session: people were still talking about it with real enthusiasm when we got together at Port Eliot, even though we were so preoccupied with what we were actually doing there.  

We often have the chance in class to do some creative and improvisational dance, on our own and with each other, but I think we’ve never had a whole session devoted to that, and it was brilliant.  It was like playing, and being given full permission to play; but I could see how we all grew in confidence and freedom through the session, triggered by you and by each other, and learning to extend our movement, and discover movement from within ourselves.  That doesn’t happen randomly; it was the way in which you watched us and responded to how we were developing, nudging and directing us so that growth continued in a seemingly natural way.  I also liked the fact that we didn’t have a concrete goal to aim for – in other words we weren’t leading towards constructing a piece that we could devise and perform to the others.  It was treated as a worthwhile exercise in itself.  Just looking around and seeing how everyone was moving was proof of the benefit; I saw people moving expressively and creatively more than I had ever seen in some of them before.  And it wasn’t a lazy option either; we all felt that we had had a good physical workout at the end.

There’s no doubt that the ability to lead such an apparently open-ended session comes from much experience and deep understanding of how dancing people work, and we all recognised that.  I think we all have a great deal to learn from your approach, both as dancers and as leaders.  We loved it and loved you, and look forward to more.  Thank you so much for coming and sharing this with us."

I could say so much but the main joy for me was to try this approach with experienced dancers who as a group already had a high level of mutual trust and were very experienced, i learnt a lot. We are meeting again on 12 September when they come to Out There to continue the Embodied Sapoce exploration...looking forward to it!

There is so much going on these days
 Express Yourself Portraits Exhibition is on at Falmouth Art Gallery community space 
Adam has nearly finished a 1 minute film commission with Shallal2 for  the RCM Royal Cornwall Museum....
Barbara and Lou are busy behind the scenes applying for future projects and funding 
Back Lane West and new Studio Expanding Limits timetables
meeting with Phoebe soon
and amongst all this a wet Cornish holidays beckons!
Returning to the Feedback Colin and i had a good long chat with our Embodied Space mentor Harry Theaker which was really insightful and helpful.
Notes coming soon.

Summer picnic photo plus

So much going on and grateful thanks to our trustees and background support so that i can now concentrate on art and people!!

And there is a lot of it...
I've just sent out our newsletter to try to make the FAD Sharing
Tuesday and Wednesday, filming with some of Shallal2 and Adam 
Just had our wonderful picnic..along with wonderful young trio Barry and the crumpets
and so much...

Monday, 15 July 2019

Extending Improvisation - a 30 year exploration and Creativity is Choices

Extending improvisation - a 30 year exploration!

Like many people in the inclusive dance world I can trace my roots to meeting and working with Wolfgang Stange*. The power of an image, and then the impromptu dramatic death solo, done by a shy, normally reluctant man with downs syndrome which was, and still is, one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen, and it was in the midst of a creative dance session.
Recently David Oddie**came to some community sessions at Liskeard  and when we were all watching wonderful spontaneous improvisations said, "You see the best work/performances in workshops."

How to enable and hold that spontaneity in performance?

In the end we also found it ( Embodied Space open Improv performance style) gave the power and creative control back to the dancers! 
What joy really dance artists.

In the approach we use everyone works to their best, it is collaborative and supportive and over the years (for some us that's a long time now), it brings familiarity in how each other moves, along with trust and confidence, which also gives the permission and ability to challenge and push each other.

This approach to performance also works with the performers who are available  on the day, so that those who cant attend due to health issues or other factors don't feel they are letting the group/performance down. This is an important aspect of real inclusion factoring in the many different variables people with support needs struggle with

Lois taylors' response to Midsummer Dance performance
"I had so many lovely comments about their work from joy at their energy and playfulness, respect for the grace and interpretation of the music to curiosity and awe about the fact it was improvised and not set.

The first set of guidelines:
Structure Freedom and Intent (and Exit - if you don’t know what you are doing get off the stage!)
Then: working on your own, working with others , or be still.- and again if you don’t know what you are doing exit

To get to this place we have various simple tasks/suggestions ie.crossing the room, shape move shape and
Workshops also have Structure Stimulus and Suggestion

Filming Embodied Spaces at Tremenheere Art Gallery, photo Zoe Wilton

Creativity is Choices

What colour to put next to which?
What shall I do now?
Creatives are often people whose brain works at high speed, and creativity endless choices, can channel and harness that brain.
In the moment decision making, which is different to planning.
Assessing the situation.
Being aware of others ( whose in the room ).
Keeping to your own decision, when it feels right.
Adapting to others needs.
Finding joy in the company of others, finding humour, pathos, connectedness.
Freedom to choose-

I stop there, we have freedom to choose not always about our situation/s but how we feel and respond -

We need support all of us - we are communal beings - our needs vary through our life - form infant to old age and in between. 

We need to be taken out of ourselves, reminded of the ‘bigger picture’, inspired by beauty and courage, art and life -

We need spaces that feel ‘safe’ and nourishing -

We need to be needed?

Arts can provide a lot,
we discussed our 3 or 4 lines for Open Improv they are:

They are:
Work on your own
Work with others
Be still if …
……in doubt exit

………………for Performance remember the ‘bigger picture’ 
and where are you in it - adding to it, not blocking or waffling or in the way

Underpinning this is…
                Where you are? Whats happening? For how long?
                You can respond, do what you like 
and Intent
                As long as it has intention ( again don’t waffle)

And under this workshop ‘rules’
Structure - where are we, what are we doing
Stimulus - music, exercises etc
Suggestions - how to relate to stimulus or how to respond in other ways /follow your own ideas in it all.

Thats as far as I’ve got.

Around that … Why do we like to dance together?
Ecstasy - dance can touch on ecstatic experience
Enthusiasm - someone once said to me, “Enthusiasm was to ‘be in joy’”
Encouragement - we try to create encouraging spaces/environments/relationships, it’s mutual, symbiotic, at it’s best.

Another question?
People often mention “beautiful and inspiring” when giving us feedback, and we don’t always have high returning audience, is ‘beauty and inspiration’ a challenge to us? And not comforting, entertaining, distracting? Does it call a response from us?
People recently say how much the dancers seem to be enjoying it, a lot of art comes from pain ( and I assure you many ‘in the room’ have their fair share of  pain) but isn’t joy contagious as the Prophet says…. ‘Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.’ ***
Last thing is people often say they are moved to tears, “ That’s good“ I say. 
I want theatre to move me - I want life to have depth and meaning, joy and sharing…
And sometimes in the right ways the Arts can give us doorways to those experiences.

David Oddie**  
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran***
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Short film by Adam Drake on Instagram, film with Barbara on Friday and sunshine

Midsummer Sunshine!
captured in Adam's film
hoping to be chosen for @dancefilms

Well done again to Shallal Dance Theatre, Thomas Remnant and Lois Taylor, at Midsummer dance, (i've been rewatching the recording) rained that day a little but we were under cover!

And I'm awake early with lots of potential ideas in my head and hoping Adam has some time to work more with us in Shallal 2 
looking forward to working with Barbara on Friday filming in the beautiful Tremenheere Gallery,
"I love her work" 
"'s real class" 
"we love working with her"
were some of the company comments last week.

We have discussed dance films and how to capture our work for years, i tried and i don't think will progress beyond....

Barbara has created exquisite films, collaborations and documentaries over many years with us, all these are hers!
 and there is a great new Awen / Shallal project in the pipeline which i hope to got to a meeting about in two weeks, and fingers crossed it gets it's funding.

So film is in my head as Many Thanks to Adam Drake for this little gem:

I love the way work and collaborations evolve, and am very grateful for the creative, collaborative and community life in the best of Cornwall. The interconnectedness of it all and as i get older seeing the development, enjoyed seeing Eddie dance page while researching today!***

Conversations around the table, family and friends:
Adam is an old friend of Mary, our eldest daughter, we always enjoyed chatting and eventually booked ourselves a work type chat and this is the result.
Our first film time was rained off, but enabled us to be indoors (our sitting room) check outfits, let Maybelle meet Adam  and to show Adam some of the dancers pieces they liked and had already danced a lot to.
Second time we had such a short window of opportunity Anna had an hour and Maybelle 2-3, Adam decided on the one location Castle Beach ( a locals favourite family quiet swimming beach)...
the tide was low so Maybelle and he scampered down ( not so easy with film camera) over slippery low tide rocks to the sweet sandbar and ran around, with me holding the phone playing music behind Adam, whilst trying to keep out of shot, hilarious and needed to be filmed!
The film is not a record of pieces already created, it is dictated and created by/for film and the music chosen by Adam afterwards, and for the edit many thanks to @cartridge_dj for the tune
We hope to continue our Shallal 2 relationship with Adam ( who lives in Falmouth ) as each group grows in its area, and also cross fertilises as at Midsummer Dance and in Embodied Space.

Eddie dance page

Star's photos from the Minack

Nordic Skiers: first album is on Spotify

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Midsummer Dance

Sunday morning....
So here i am searching Indian music for Zoe, i casually asked her what she would like to dance to and she said Indian Music so apart from Ravi Shankar and Bride and Prejudice i am pretty ignorant?! very you say! and then i heard Nitin Sawhney on Desert Island discs and so here i am listening to

Trying to imagine it....
So dear Pep is standing in for Colin today and it's a long way to go and many people aren't available so we have an exciting mix of Pep, hopefully Peter ( who was brilliant at the Minack with wonderful costume changes/characters), Toby and Al and Zoe,
Thomas Remnant duet with Lois,
and then an open improv - however realising this lovely track probably won't work so back to the ol' ear!

Sunday evening....
In the end i downloaded some wonderful Nitin music i look forward to working with and settled for The Boatman.
The day ran smoothly thanks to all, it had a number of random surrounding variables, thankfully, all worked well and smoothly!
The idea for this project was to push us on, as well as explore and take further something we love, in the moment improvisation and music....George wasn't available today so it was my recorded music choices and they were very last minute.

Audience comments/ feedback

"Absolutely fantastic, brought a tear to me eye"
it always means a lot when people search the performers out to thank them at the end.
"Made me laugh, made me cry, what more could you want?" - Helen Tiplady
"Made me cry"

I posted the applause it was loud! on our FB page
 and Lois wrote....
Hi Jo "thanks
Shallal were AMAZING total stars!! I had so many lovely comments about their work from joy at their energy and playfulness, respect for the grace and interpretation of the music to curiosity and awe about the fact it was improvised and not set. ....  It was lovely to meet more of the Shallal family."

Al, Toby, Thomas, Pep, Peter and Lois, after the event....

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

weather and working outdoors and film

Well we ( Shallal Dance Theatre) made it, second try, last Friday, to the Minack Theatre Car Park to perform Embodied Space.
We attracted a stalwart audience, it was breezy and not so warm to watch it all, there were a lot of passing visitors who stayed for a few dances ( often filming them) and then made their way on to the theatre.
Not writing too much yet, as yet to have feedback session, however many dancers said it was their favourite and most successful Embodied Space so far.

We ( with 2 dancers from Shallal 2) also made it, second try, to a local beach for a film outing with Adam.
Each first time the weather was truly against us, the Cornish 'Rivieria,' which we are so blessed to live in, has temperamental and unpredictable weather which teaches you to seize the day, or hour, it changes so fast! The westerly wet winds coming in from the Atlantic etc...

So my reason to sit down to blog was to say,  as i mused over some images from the day, whilst washing up....
" What a blessing it is to watch people dance over years."
Shallal's way of working means that they share/show something of themselves with you.
This was highlighted by watching a short film made by James from Shallal Dance Theatre's Embodied Spaces at Trebah Gardens for their recent project Operation Overlord.
This evening there were only 4 dancers at Shallal 2 (quality not quantity) and i am so moved/impressed to watch peoples talent and confidence unfurl, ages 8 to 48, Lee just had his birthday!

Reflection on todays film time:
First try, over a week ago, the rain came, so we stayed indoors sorting out clothes and showing Adam some dances.
(Maybelle has been dancing in Shallal since she was 3 and Anna since she was 7?
Maybelle is moving out of early childhood and Anna is moving out to London in September and is now 19 so it feels special to record them at this time.)

and then, second trytoday, it was so much sunnier at the beach and hotter than we imagined

we live in a beautiful place, this is on our doorstep

Low tide, Adam checking film and Maybelle distracted by a sea creature?

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Queens Nursing award to Debs.... film and instagram

Congratulations to Debbie O'Nyons for Queens Nursing award for personalised care!
( her other job! )
Debs has a real heart for her patients/ the people she meets and extending their opportunities, it is wonderful she has been awarded this and recognised for it.
Deb's has added so much to Shallal and its super to have her back in Shallal Dance Theatre when she can come.
Film? and Instagram...
The end of the last blog i mentioned filming on sand and who knows after a meeting with Mary's friend Adam today we might be nearer than i anticipated. Adam is a really interesting local filmmaker wanting a new project! and to extend his portfolio.
Its always an interesting journey from friendly ( and in our case quite manic ) chats to working with someone, so we have booked a 'work' chat and hopefully we will do something exploratory (and low maintenance on my part!) just get the dancers to a few/ venues..nearby and maybe only 2 to start with, there is a "a carrot" an instagram dance films opportunity ..
the world of Instagram....
some of what i follow:

this blog post has developed its own spacey layout - which it won't change easily....