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Birdsong: Choreographed by Siobhan Davies

By zhu123 Feb 06, 2012 1149 Words
Birdsong (2004)
Choreographed by Siobhan Davies

Contextual Information/ Key Details:
 Choreographer Siobhan Davies
 Movement MaterialSiobhan Davies and Company Dancers

 Sound Score and DesignAndy Pink
 Visual ArtistDavid Ward
 Production DesignSam Collins
 Lighting DesignAdrian Plaut
 Costume DesignGenevieve Bennett

 Dancers8  5 Female and 3 Male
 Type of StageIn the round

World PremierNorthern Ireland April 2004
 London PremierOctober 2004

A pebble effect, starting from the middle and moving out. The central Bird Song Solo was the first section choreographed and then it mirrors as it grows (except no second diagonal)

The Order of Bird Song

Infinite Monkeys

Four Corners 1


Snake 1

Muybridge 1

Gill Clarke Solo 1

Four Musical Lines 1

Improvisation 1

Bird Song Central Solo

Improvisation 2

Four Musical Lines 2

Gill Clarke Solo 2

Muybridge 2

Snake 2

Four Corners 2

Ending – Final Solo

You will be studying the sections ‘Bird Song Central Solo’ through to ‘Ending’.


Pedestrian movements/ gestures; isolations of joints; idiosyncratic action linked to particular dancers

Action has a focus on the body; initiated form the joints or around the joints; drawing attention to the anatomy, body surfaces and body parts

Proximity and distance (near and far) to the audience and to other dancers

Small detailed action and larger more extended movement

A multi-centred, Cunninghamesque approach to facings and directions

Unprojected intimacy, task-like presentation and more expansive focus

Confined and expansive; complex pathways – linear and curved

Slow motion/stillness contrasts with speed

Complex energy flow: fluidly successive or jerkily through and across joints or body surfaces; melting, ricocheting, arresting, recoiling, dispersing, flowing and regenerating

Transitions between movements can be sudden; body parts flicking to a new facing or focus

Contrasting dynamics: relaxed, soft, heavy, gentle, gliding, sharp, driving, playful, buoyant, wriggling, twitching, fluid, rippling

Repetition, recycling, variation, recombination, accumulation

Short phrases grouped together rather than traditional motif development

Line ups; leading/following; grid-like square patterns, circles

Canon, unison, contrast, complementing

Action broken in successive stages across several dancers – from freeze-frame, stop motion photography

The second half repeats the structural relationships of the first in reverse – sections balance each other out in the different halves; Henry Montes’s solo is at the core

Reviews of Bird Song:
1) Bird Song is more frenetic, fascinating and long than most of Davies previous pieces. Enhanced by a twitchy, avian style of movement, the dancers’ impressive discipline, meticulous choreography, this piece conveys the ethos of abstract beauty rather than sensuality. The music: a jazzy electronic collage based on the Pied Butcher bird, is very reminiscent of a flock’s skittish behaviour. Video, lighting, music and dance are inextricably interlinked throughout the performance to indicate weather, mood, environment and location.

Dots; like computer ticker tape or old fashioned computer punch cards, dance in the wind of change and their partners resist until they can do so no longer and are forced into a line. Under a bridge, dancers twitch or wobble like birds waking at dawn, others join in until the flock is awake, restless and ready for flight. Poses are held sporadically throughout the piece, each body appearing as a freeze-frame aspect of avian movement. There’s a quiet, meditative solo, recurring duets, the mood and movement mellow a little and at one time a game of ‘Simon Says’. The final duet is a silent and moving performance to a simple rhythm and as the shadow falls I am left with a sense of isolation, desolation and wariness from constant danger that is an all too appropriate reflection of our times as well as the birdsong on which it is based.

Judith Mackrell
Saturday October 23, 2004
The Guardian
At the centre of Siobhan Davies' wonderful new work, Bird Song, are the limpid, warbling riffs of the Australian pied butcher bird. But the piece starts on a note that is much too frenetic for any bird to be noticed, and half the work has to pass before we, or the eight dancers, get to hear the song of the title. During the whole of the opening section, Andy Pink's score fills the stage with waves of clashing, grinding noise. The sound is a deliberate assault on the dancers, who appear to be flung around by its force - catapulted into flailing, staggered lines, or dashed, twisting, to the floor. For the audience, seated on all four sides of the stage, the combination of driven energy and savage pattern making is overwhelming; it comes as a relief when Pink's music and David Ward's lighting begin to calm the frenzy. The dancers start to become aware of wider horizons, and of each other: arms that were raised as barriers make tentative contact, and snatches of piano music mould their bodies into a graceful, more coordinated ease. It's within this quiet that the work starts to approach the elusive birdsong. Deborah Saxon dances a questioning hopeful solo, as if scenting the pied butcher's call, but it is Henri Montes who actually dances to the sudden miracle of its song. His dancing is exemplarily simple and bright-eyed; in combination with the clarity of the song, it seems to conjure, out of nowhere, an image of nature before the fall. Montes and the bird share a moment that is replete with their own calm activity, unplagued by questions and demands. From this epiphany, the piece has to go into reverse - but even as the choreography returns to its previous bustling pace, the birdsong resonates at its core. It might sound as if Davies was drawing a sentimental moral here. But her choreography is physically so meticulous that it generates infinite possibilities of meaning. Typical is the final duet between Saxon and Montes, who, having been united by their quest for the bird-call, seem to be left with a painful sense of unquenchable yearning. A shadow sweeps over them, like car headlights in the night, while they lie uneasily together - and the image is as charged and desolate as anything I've seen on the stage. “The kind of dancing that makes time stand still.” The Times

For over 20 years Siobhan Davies has been at the forefront of contemporary dance. Her work with LCDT, Rambert Dance Company, The Royal Ballet and her own company has given her iconic status as the UK’s leading female choreographer, and resulted in numerous awards, including a CBE.

Her latest work Bird Song is a visually arresting collaboration with artist David Ward. First seen last year at the Linbury Studio, Davies has now re-worked the piece for a larger stage, using incredible fields of light projected above and behind the dancers. Dramatically veering from high energy frenetic dance to a beautifully meditative solo, the work is set to Andy Pink’s compelling sound score which resonates

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