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....

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

MInack photos and more...

Sometimes a lot happens at once, we have just come out of 3 Embodied Space shows and they were all so completely different.
Since Friday I am processing the style, the elements, we know them well experientially but how to find the language to delve deeper and discuss with those who don't do the practice..the insights of the performers as ever are vital and I will share all that soon.

It was with excitement and trepidation i went yesterday morning to Minack Theatre Car Park. Colin and i were having a site meeting for Embodied Space performing there 2pm Friday 7 June.
Who wouldn't love to go to the Minack for a meeting! the extraordinary blessing of living where we do, and then, had i made a daft decision? who performs in Car Parks? well we do obviously!
Anyway my fears were allayed by short grass (fairly flat), blue sea and ornamental plant rockery back drop and the most obliging and supportive staff you could ask for, so here's hoping.

A few years ago we blogged a meeting on a small cliff in St Ives, but now this photo celebrates our best, outdoor stunning view, meeting venue so far.

The natural beauty that surrounds us in Cornwall, especially those who live in Penwith, - it is one of the most beautiful places i have visited in the world - which leads us to this Friday and our unscheduled Pop Up Embodied Space response to the 2nd Global Strike for the Climate
You can find us this Friday 11am - 12pm performances 
12pm - 1pm chalk drawing 
on Newlyn Green.

At present i am thinking we might do the same music as we did on the beach at Trebah Gardens 'Sorrowful Songs,' followed by the Kestle Barton cowslip meadow where we resonated with the hope Spring brings ( 'Primavera', Einaudi) and hope for a renewal, revival and reversal/repair? 
In Cornwall there are now choughs reestablished in their habitats, when i was child they were virtually extinct in the wild.

This week i also received this from Tina Cockett who gave so much to Shallal throughout the charity from back stage, performing, movement development, skills sharing workshop, bid writing, national networking and just a really good supportive friend to us all.

"...I have been thrilled to learn of all Shallal’s continuing work via Facebook over the last four years.
Have often thought of you all .... so I can thank you properly for your inspiration and the experience Shallal gave me. ... I am offering a solo movement installation in some local woods. ....
with my deepest appreciation of Shallal’s presence in my life in Cornwall love and best wishes to all Shallal members."

So to end, this post seems to have most of the components that arise in this blog, creative reflection, sharing  information, feedback with company members and artists, letting our funders see a glimpse of partnerships and process, background work and notice of forthcoming events in Shallal and within our wider community.

It is the start of another glorious sunny day here, and sometimes the financial insecurity of working in project-led funded work, in a low income area, is soothed and balanced by freedom and flexibility - I might go for my first sea swim this year after my early morning meeting!
Yesterday Luke and i had hoped to scout out some Parkcor spots after the meeting however we ended up eating fish and chips at Sennen, it's fantastic to have these short holiday moments interspersing working life, there is a point to this! low tide firm smooth sand is something to dance and be filmed on! I'm still waiting to do this.....

Friday, 17 May 2019

Friday 24 May 2nd Global Strike for Climate Shallal Dance Theatre 'Striking' on Newlyn Green from 11am - 1pm.

At the end of the day, was the phrase that sprung to mind, which seems fitting for the subject of this post..
At the end of today, Colin used his talents to quickly write this...
( Star had just written a powerful piece called Hope inspired by the global predicament and the wonderful meadow of cowslips, come along next Friday for its first public performance)
So next Friday 24 May you can find some or all of us ( the hardy few if it's raining!) on Newlyn Green from 11am - 1pm.
In solidarity with and in support of the 2nd Global Climate Strike for Future ,  Shallal's Strike will be Pop Up dance theatre performance and poetry, live music and song from 11am - 12pm and colouring in the pavement with chalk drawings from 12pm - 1pm.

Tremenheere Gallery last Friday

Embodied Space

Tremenheere Art Gallery 10 May 2019

"I loved it, and it definitely ranks as one of my favourites. 
It was a joy to witness the performers'  bravery and honesty, and the integrity they showed one another.  Really wonderful."

                                                           quick snaps from warm up in the space....

We filmed it all for refection ...looking forward to sharing it with everyone today and chatting to our mentor Harry Theaker soon, Lois gave me a good insight yesterday. We have the autumn term to gather and reflect, really pleased so far!! ....

General Strike XR next week on Shallal Dance Theatre day hoping to do something interesting, we shall see...

Came across this recently ....

and Eddie has Open Studios at Krowji starting 25 May

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Tremenheere this Friday

Shallal brings new dance experience to Cornish venues in May
Cornish inclusive arts charity Shallal new tour of pioneering new improvised dance theatre work in May started with performances at Falmouth Art Gallery, Kestle Barton near Helston and comes tomorrow 10th May to Tremenheere Art Gallery at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Gulval, near Penzance.
‘We have been working on an entirely new improvisation method which brings out the element of surprise and playful spontaneity often missing in our lives and in art’, says Shallal Creative Director Jo Willis. 
Shallal’s new ‘Here and Now’ project brings their three dance theatre companies together for a touring programme which will take them to venues across Cornwall from Liskeard to The Minack Theatre.
Described by an audience member as "mind-blowing, soul-moving, powerful performance”, the shows, funded by Arts Council England, are admission free and fully accessible.
‘The new project has given a level of progression to the company that is full of risk and new challenges and I am really excited to see where it will take us’ said Shallal dancer Star.
Check Shallal’s website for times and further tour dates throughout the summer and autumn culminating with a final show in January at the Newlyn Art Gallery 
The performance at Tremenheere is at the art gallery which has level access and a disabled toilet.  For further information please check venue websites.  

The shows are alternating between art galleries and outdoor venues and sometimes both!
It looks good in galleries, the initial inspiration for it, and we are excited to perform for the first time in the beautiful new build space at Tremenheere, and if the weather is kind we might extend to outside.
Joseph at Newlyn Art Gallery
the body in space then add others, dance, music and art! poetry, song goes on....