Earth, From Memory

Lewys Holt

Back in the sunshine of July I came to Hull Dance for a week-long residency in their studio. This residency was to engage in initial research for the new piece I am developing thanks to receiving the Hull Dance Development Award. 

The piece, titled Earth, From Memory is an attempt to tell the entire history of the planet  through dance and words from what people can remember when asked. 

I love the ridiculousness of this proposition. I love the idea of an imperfect account of something. An account that indulges in the subjectivity of each individual that contributes to it. I love how art can be a murky lens through which to view another person’s perspective of something. These are things I want to bring out in the piece as well as a rich affinity for the planet Earth.

The week was really interesting. I was accompanied by my frequent collaborator Eleanor Sikorski who is also my partner. We explored various ways of framing movement with text. Reading text about the planet or about geology or about interplanetary movements just before engaging in a movement exploration. Noting how the words provide a context for the ensuing movements, for the ways that our bodies would interact with one another, for the ways they would drift apart, intersect and collide. It felt like something cool was happening – good old Hull.

We used the book Are We Here Yet? by Brussels based American choreographer Meg Stuart to engage in a variety of movement explorations. 

Particularly we enjoyed using a score wherein one person lies on the floor completely passive and the other person uses their body to enact different situations that they want to. They can

  • whisper in the ear of the passive person
  • lie alongside them
  • pick them up
  • roll them over
  • shake them
  • sit on them
  • lift them as far up as they can

or perhaps dance around them, not exactly interacting with them but making a complex and intriguing image where one dances and the other is perhaps perceived as dead.

We enjoyed working this way – throwing relationships between two bodies into the air, embracing numerous multifaceted interpretations of what or who we were to each other. 

Early in the week we hosted a workshop of movement and writing with a group who regularly attend dance classes at Hull Dance and they were so brilliant, we had a great time. Most of them came back on the Friday to watch a 20-minute cluster of materials that we had put together followed by a brief feedback session.

The whole thing was so helpful and I feel like I’m going to be in such a good place to start creating with a full team when the project funding eventually comes through. Like so many companies at the moment we are waiting to hear back from our latest (revised) funding application, perseverance has always paid off for us in the past and we’re going to stick at it until we’re able to bring this project to life. 

I hope to see you all in Hull in early 2024

Picture of Lewys Holt
Lewys Holt

November 2023