Bringing Home The Bacon

The Liverpool branch of Fallen Angels Dance Theatre were recently invited to collaborate with Hope Street Ltd’s Emerging Artists Program on a series of performances at Tate Liverpool, as part of the Francis Bacon exhibition and Liverpool Biennial. The show was called The Many Faces of Francis Bacon, directed by Andre Pink.

Below are images from the development through to performance

Ian Brown

With special thanks to Andrew Millar for the rehearsal and production photographs (the fabulous ones).

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Hand To Mouth

A little while ago, we connected with Aleasha Chaunte, a highly talented artist from the Liverpool community with a background in Drama and Voice. After her experience of surviving cancer of the throat, which then affected the way she sings, she conceived a community art project entitled #thehandlessproject. Based on the story of The Handless Maiden, an old German folk tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, about a miller who is offered wealth by the devil if he agrees to give him what lies behind his mill (it turns out to be his daughter). To summarise, tragedy ensues and the girl loses her hands (only to have them restored in a fashion because she is pure of heart and undeserving of such a fate).

The unique thread of this project and the story focusing on people who survive tragedies of whatever nature. Given that Fallen Angels Dance Theatre is a recovery based charity, it made sense that there was an opportunity for us to collaborate.

Aleasha kindly took one of our classes at the LCI Studio in The Bluecoat, where she shared with us her experience in the realm of voice. She also facilitated various exercises, including massage, relaxation techniques and a beautiful hand-washing and hand-binding ritual she had conceived, using a bowl of rose water she had prepared with rose petals, glycerin and rose oil. It really was a sublime experience.

We had already had some exposure to Aleasha via Mary Prestige and Jo Blowers’ monthly Contact Improvisation class and “jam” at the Bluecoat, another example of how the creative community here “cross pollenates” as it were, opening further doors and opportunities.

Off the back of this liaison, I had the privilege of lending my expertise in the realm of fashion makeup and print media, assisting her by doing her makeup and taking photographs which I then edited for #thehandlessproject. I have always been fascinated by visual communication, having a very visually-oriented creative mind myself. I knew I wanted to present Aleasha in a powerful fashion, after all, this is a project about survival rather than tragedy. As such, I looked to strong black women in popular culture such as the supermodel Iman and singer and actress Grace Jones. Grace in particular is something of an enduring icon, having collaborated with some the most inspirational artists of our times, including Andy Warhol and most notably the graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude, who created some of her most memorable images.

It is worth noting, that part of Aleasha’s research for her project brought to her attention “Kintsugi”, the Japanese art of embracing damage (specifically relating to ceramics, where broken pieces of pottery are mended with gold). We re-interpreted this by painting the scar on her throat gold, using MAC gold pigment and mixing fluid.

There is much truth to the old adage that “a picture speaks a thousand words”.

Ian Brown

 

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It’s Only Words

When Fallen Angels Dance Theatre performer Linda Lewis, she of the flame hair, bohemian style and one of the most graceful pirouettes I’ve ever seen, wrote a powerful piece of poetry, little did she know that the words seemingly birthed from the depths of her artistic soul would go on to inspire an entire performance piece based on the themes of Family and Recovery.

Entitled “Adrift Together”, her poem has been selected by the company to be our ongoing theme, for we are all adrift together in this great ocean we call life and recovery.

Adrift Together

“Shoals of shattered parts cast into space;
tumbling,
twisting, turning.
Plummeting, plunging pieces,
glimmering;
slicing darkness;
glittering, glowing,
sparkling, shimmering, swirling;
fireflies on black canvas.
Blobs of quicksilver
splitting and separating,
adrift; apart
and falling through night;
melting away, then
swelling, malleable,
breaking off,
converging,
bonding,
coalescing.

Silver fish, like darts
scattered in shock,
thrown apart – hurled into oblivion,
isolated –
alone and dark and cold;
then –
pinpricks of brightness
through turbulence and blackness;
buttons of light in a churning sea,
clinging together;
a loving embrace in murky waters.

Explosions of warmth from a well of pain,
deep, deep down inside……….

dancers casting out, reaching for
hands to hold,
uniting,
connecting,
becoming whole.”

– Linda Lewis

Over the last few weeks, we have been rehearsing every Tuesday morning at The Bluecoat Gallery on School Lane, Liverpool. A lot of our work is improvised and many of the performers often agree that they perform best in that format. Recently, we have been working on synchronising movement with breath. We also introduced words such as “reach” and explored how one could reach with one’s body – but in a non-conventional fashion. In layman’s terms, this could mean leading the body with the head, or perhaps a knee or foot – not necessarily by merely extending an arm.

Each week we are challenged to push ourselves, to think beyond the confines of the conventional and to build on the skills and techniques we gather as we go (or should that be grow?)

There isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not astounded by the strength, talent, creativity, vulnerability and dignity of my fellows. I leave every class inspired. We regularly video our sessions and take photographs, which are remarkably useful tools for self-development and constructive critique. Online media allows us to post content on our Facebook page which often prompts stimulating and free flowing discussions and exchanges. The creativity isn’t confined to the LCI rehearsal space, it leaves with us every Tuesday afternoon (often being the catalyst for lengthy discussions over coffee as we dissect what we have done and propose inspiration and plans for future projects). Having moved to Liverpool last year barely knowing a soul, I am highly aware of how privileged I am to be a part of a growing creative community and movement within Liverpool.

On the theme of illumination, I’d say “the future’s bright”. Whether it is orange remains to be seen but whatever the hue, it promises to be colourful.

Ian Brown

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‘ADRIFT TOGETHER’, what it’s all about.

Risen Dance Theatre will  collect stories from Liverpool people who have different paths to recovery.  Risen will create performance using digital media platforms.

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Exploring notions of…

  • self-presentation
  • autobiography
  • stigma
  • future potential

The Digital Storytelling project will allow the participants to enhance their notion of…

  • cultural democracy
  • participation
  • mainstream media representation
  • negative stereotyping of addicts
  • having a voice
  • social perception

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Inspiration in Recovery

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Former Risen group members Andrew Millar and Mel Eyquem came in to a Risen creative workshop in November. The idea was that Andy would bring in an image that represented how it was when he was in active addiction, and also remained as an inspiration in recovery.  Andrew is a photographer and brought in an image by Josef Sudek, from a series called ‘My Studio Window’.

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“I was a solitary drinker, standing day in, day out at the window of my flat.  Staring out at the garden and the trees through a window, putting my often demented thoughts and mind onto the landscape and contours of tree limbs and shadows.  There was always the glimpse of something inspirited and connecting out there though in nature, and I’m still staring out the same window these days, sober and recovered.”

After improvising, the Risen dancers were photographed by Andrew and Mel Eyquem.

RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (41)

RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (48)

RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (12)RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (14)RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (18)RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (42)RISEN. LIC. NOVEMBER 3, 2015. edited by Mel, Andy (50)