Saturday, 26 January 2013

Jo - Artistic Statement

As we are about to do another Inclusive Dance Theatre Day, I made myself type up my old artistic statement - or something like an artistic statement. I wrote it in response to a comment by someone in the contemporary dance world. It was written in one long 'exhalation' but carries most of the points inherent in my approach to my work and process with Shallal.

Shallal has it’s place in the dance world, rather like naive and outsider art have their place in the visual art world. (Alfred Wallis, Brian Pearce)
It comes from a community, a philosophy, a world view of each persons value and contribution, beauty in truth, integrity, authenticity, and these are high ideals and high claims, which is why we try not to speak of them for at anytime we might fail more than usual and then it is all just empty talk.
It is similar to going to an art class and being asked to paint the blue jug on the table, but encouraged to follow your own creative response, which may have little or nothing to do with the jug.
There is a belief in trust the process. There is the history that we have seen it acheived before so we’ll try again.
There is a lot of mutual respect and relationship, and a discipline to hold your peace unless it’s constructive.
You are asked to be sensitive, aware and supportive, but not patronising, this is a world where we can practise what it’s hard to preach outside.
It’s a held safe enviroment, with ideally sufficient support for peoples needs, and we are all people, artists, and involved in a creative process.
We know that people have been moved, challenged and changed by watching, this is not intentional and we are not political except, in the strong sense that the person is political.
I sometimes forget that the work changed my life, but this gives me the courage and trust to keep going. I believe in allowing people the freedom and discipline, joy and sharing of the creative process, and have worked in this all my adult life.
Choice and freedom are especially important for people who have less say than most over what happens in their lives (for whatever reason).

We do not wish to tell people how to move, we are much more interested in learning from them and seeing their inner beauty.
Ideally the work would run parallel to various technique classes so people could access what they need to extend their range and expression of movement.
But I get bored seeing dancers copy other people or work in limited vocabularies and styles.
So, I was deeply impressed by Wolfgang Stange’s work and his ability to reach people.
And then I read Peter Slade’s Natural Dance.
“In general it is the beauty of individual style, which catches me, the sheer unique quality of each personality.”
And I read Isadora Duncan,
“Dance was always an experience for her. Not merely a performance, and never movement for it’s own sake.”
And then I explored Body Mind Centring work, and anything else cheap and interesting where you didn’t have to wear a leotard!
And I believe everyone can create and contribute.
The facilitators role is to allow that to happen, and help that person find the way in and access that world, it is not so much reliant on skill more it tests out your belief system, if you believe this will you try to allow it to happen, by adapting, changing, maintaining communication until something breaks through.
This is why I think some people walk in and understand the work, and other people never really get it, do you believe it, are you commited to trying to let it happen, will you let go of your preconcieved ideas to allow someone else to engage in the experience, how attached are you to the outcome, can you engage in the work to allow someone with different skills and needs to participate, can you follow their ideas and inspiration, why must they follow yours.
You can lend them your experience, your confidence in the work.
The work involves a lot of thinking on your feet, grabbing the moment, the feeling, it requires some tact and patience. Let the process be explored, we do not need a product all the time, it is all on the way to that place.
It allows a giveaway or sharing which frees it from the therapeutic model, others watch our work, others carry and support, inspire and encourage us, as we do to them.
We may not learn technique but we learn from each other. 
How to work with the other, but not loose ourselves, at it’s best how to be with each other with mutual respect and without control.
There is safety in structure and there is freedom in the spirit, because in the discipline of improvisation you can always go further take risks. It is tried and tested and always new.
This makes it edgy and sometimes untidy, but we live with that as some dancers live with over control, generally we prefer it and keep learning.
There can be a lot of personnal reflection, and not too much planning, a lot of balancing goes on.
And you never really know if it will happen again.
We hope to help each person be aware of, trust and be comfortable with their creative process and how they best work.
Because work is shown and shared constantly there is a fairly relaxed attitude in front of the audience less of an us and them, and hopefully more of an inclusive atmosphere.
When all goes well, the fun, support, warmth and sharing come across on stage, we claim little, hope you like us, realise it’s not everyone’s taste, and get enough joy from doing it to do it again, and people have seen us more than once ( not just our families).
And people have often asked to join the company after a show, and we have been invited to perform elsewhere, so we carry on.
To return to the beginning we are fairly marginal in the traditional dance performance world (though people from that world have and do work with us) and we come to dance through a process that possibly has more in common with the visual arts.

( We have grown out of an international impulse, but we are also very much a product of a place, Penwith, Penzance and Newlyn, have a very open artistic culture, which pervades the atmosphere, attitudes of the people, which support and appreciates the work.)

copyright Jo Willis
None of the above can be reproduced without permission

Wolfgang Stange and Amici,

Isadora Duncan “The Art of the Dance”

Bodymind Centring 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A little thank you and some chat

I have often paid tribute to and acknowledged my gratitude to Wolfgang and as I now sit writing (blooming) bids, evaluations, having meetings, establishing partnerships, etc i would like to thank all those who helped me acquire the limited skills, but very increased understanding of the funding world, which i have acquired quite painfully over the last 3 or more years!
Thank you for their patience with me and their belief in Shallal; particularly Barbara Santi, Dot Peryer and The Works- Sarah Pym, and our administrator and trustees, who have had to re translate my ideas and my nearly non existent punctuation and grammer!
Everyone who works under Shallal's umbrella now has to gain skills to access funding for their groups, and there is more competition now, but we are still here, and thank you to all our collaborators, past managers, trustees and friends who have helped us get to this point.
And also all the people who attend our groups and perform in the main company without them, i would have given up years ago!
Ok so now on with work, home and trying not to tangle the threads of my life too much!

Oh and big thank you to Eileen Herzberg ( an old friend and member of Shallal, who our show Mind the Gap was dedicated to ) who's legacy enabled me to work through hard times and buy a mac book which changed my working life, i no longer had to negotiate with the family to go on the computer and i had a tool i could i now wander downstairs  to my desk corner, dressed for the office! and work for 2 hours before the house; children, chickens and husband wake up.

A big thank you to Kathy Pope who invited us to open You matter......make a difference, a social care student information event at New County Hall yesterday.
Everyone met the challenge of the space (the Council chambers) and close proximity of the audience with real professionalism, and produced lovely work. Some of the pieces performed will stay in our outreach repertoire and some are nearly over, as in February we start our next project, 2i's improvisation and installation. A research and development project inspired by ideas we wish to develop from the Doorways project and the Studios and old and new skills within the company.
One of the aims is to be able to develop small more mobile performance groups eg 4-5 performers to do pop ups and small outreach improvisations, on themes such as poetry with dance and song.

Anyway to end with verbal feedback i recieved from yesterday;

"Thank you very much. Very moving, incredibly moving."

"Loved the crows, anarchy in the council chambers, and the rest of it, all of it.  It's got soul."

Oh and welcome to Tom While and his team as they come to make a short documentary about our devising process, and a quick plug for the Inclusive Dance Theatre days, next one on Monday and more of Access Theatre and Castaways theatre plan to join us, we look forward to working together. Everyone welcome. Studio C at the Performance Centre is large and lovely to work in and they are very hospitable. ( more info on our website )

Sunday, 20 January 2013

chat/ news /thanks

Diana said to me sometime ago that the blog is a place for me to use my voice. was going to be a conversation about Art and Anxiety, two close friends! As I had switched off so much over the holidays that it took a while to gear up to work again. However now back in, and have resolved my art and anxiety dialogue for now by treating it all as "Studio"; sometimes you arrive fully armed and focused, sometimes you don't know what will happen, but you come as part of your discipline and because you "trust the process" (not yourself) and believe in the collective creative and i am always surprised by the work.. ..
so sharing some snaps from last week..
Above Giles and Trevor decided to swing Duane! in Friends and Dancing.

main co snap shots, Andy visited so some lovely photographs coming soon, these are mine, as you can tell....
Trevor and Toby

warm up pile up! 

A pleasure to have George visiting us exploring improvised music, which everyone responds really well to, Flo has as a good sense of rhythm and was helping him!

So news for the coming week.
 Meeting with Jo Mayes re an exciting potential summer/autumn project.
 Meeting with people from the Library service exploring 2 new projects.
Possible start of Sketchbooks soon as an instillation idea for May 31st as pleased to have 2i's research and development project starting in February thanks to Grants for the Arts, and a private donation may get us our first lot of sketchbooks already eagerly awaited by Colin and Star and our household ( we've got the bug having just completed our sketchbooks for the we credit with this fantastic idea and they do lots more; letters, world meals see their website; )

Shallal outreach peformance at New County Hall, Truro.
We have been invited to Open the YouMatter event there on Thursday 24th January. Some of the performers will then be going onto a Tea Dance in Redruth funded by Feast  ( they have no choice, Colin is driving the minibus) should be a lovely afternoon.

Shallal 2 are busy working on a piece for the Fundraiser on February 11th.

A big thank you to Tina Cockett for kindly running a session about Dance Therapy looking at similarities /differences /use of props /warm up /holding the space etc. This allows some of us involved in running/supporting sessions to have some in house skills sharing and training, we have so many diverse and skilled people within Shallal at the moment so we hope to continue with some other  sessions through the winter.

Thank you also to Barbara Santi for copies of the show at the Acorn and fantastic short films created from Dooways that she has given to the company members.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Shallal Fundraiser

This promises to be an entertaining evening with many local artists kindly giving their time and talents. A big thank you to Jessie for organising it, to Matt for designing and sponsoring the poster and to Sarah and Gyllngdune Gardens for the venue.

This event is needed to support the community work,
Shallal 2 enters this term with no support funding and Open House groups are awaiting news from applications. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Audience Feedback Doorways 14th Dec

Feedback from audience 14th Dec

I have included all of it for the performers sake, feedback is very useful....
We are very grateful to everyone who takes time to do this for us. It helps us continue, evaluate, know our audience. often this is accompanied by conversations and new time we need to develop a research project....
from the 14th there is; possible work with an inspiring mental health community,  duet with Zoe and dancer, and looking at some writing... 


“Doorways” at Tremough. A very moving show. Brilliant dancers and lovely to see such a variety of people working together to put on this show. Better than the Paralmpics for showing what people can do! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Beautiful show- I was spellbound. Full of poetry, both moving and funny. Sometimes both at once!
Thank you - a breath of fresh air blown into Falmouth.
Mat Osmond

Very entertaining -  a nice mixture of performances, well produced and in a good venue. Great to see such a celbration of diversity.

So pleased we were able to attend - such a lovely blend of local talent and references, humour, kindness, creativity and community spirit.
A beautiful performance with moments of absoloute poetry in motion.
Very inspiriing and rewarding - such a great theatre/dance company.
Best of everything for future projects!!
R Bread

Loved the mix of styles, comedy, dance, poetry and film. Very inventive use of simple scenery. Girl in white dress, amazing solo dance. Enjoyed all ensemble dance. All pieces very well linked. Lovely singing.

Amazing perfomance, really well put together.
Dancers took the stage and owned it. The outside rehearsals must influence a lot as the work looked effortless and the performers performed with such confidence and maturity. Amazing. Please keep making pieces.

Very well executed performance, inspired and seemed to be enjoyed by all, both audience and cast.
Good work guys!
Lee Mcintyre

I have been wanting to see a Shallal performance for a long time. This performance a few days before my birthday was an amazing treat and surprise. I loved every moment of the performance and was happy to see some faces I knew especially the sea dragon.
Thank you so much.
Lisa Peakman

An enjoyable and inspirational show
Thank you

these photos are too small - sorry, they are tasters - these and more can be viewed easily on;
signing in background

Star and Sally's lovely photos for Mousehole doorways


Skye with Zoe in front

Zoe - "girl in white"

ensemble, (Daniela's second show with us)

Thank you to everyone, it is very much a collaborative, creative effort and support


This was one of the best performances I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. It will stay with me for a long time and I would recommend it to everyone as it was amazing. The team work was second-to-none and it was nice to see everyone helping each other and helping each other through the performance.

One of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences I’ve witnessed for a long while- truly memorable and uplifting. The correspondence between the performers was truly studied - and i can only imagine the result of a process full of integrity and joy. This really is a fantastic company the appeals to the senses on so many levels- wonderful!!!
Mark Jenkinson

Fantastic show.
Absolutely mesmersing, particularly the couples dancing towards the end - Farewell.
and also Skye dancing alone with the group on the other side.
I also loved watching the signing, it looked beautiful.

Tonight we watched with great delight, myself and a support worker a show by Shallal, with both tenants I live with in St Mawes, another tenant said, “ that was great”!!
words from all the guys!
P Chittock
P Petmin sw

I felt compelled to write to you,having just had the wonderful experience of attending "Doorways"...
I had no idea that I was going to experince such a professional, inspiring show.
As a consultant psychiatrist, I am only too aware of the difficulties that so many have in expressing themselves verbally, and the frustrations this presents for them. It was truly wonderful to see all ages and abilities set free and able to express themselves fully......
The performance I saw was truly inspiring - not just the dance but the creative settings, the use of music and film - all of which gave me the feeling that "anything could be considered". 
Angela Rouncefield