Dances for Tomorrow:
We Surface
Homeward Bound

Choreographed by Sarah Spanton
Performed by Sarah Spanton and Alice Smith

Powerhouse 1 Showcase Theatre, Wakefield
11 March, 1998

These three pieces are concerned with the visualised manipulation of the body and the space it inhabits. In Box, the use of space both delimits and encourages movement. The performer was perched on a small box about 20 inches square, at first crouching, then attempting to manoeuvre her way around this microcosmic stage. The sound track began with a text on anxiety and stress; words like 'responsibility' and 'threatening' overlapped with the performerÌs increasingly frantic but bound movements. Instructions on ventriloquism followed as she got off and moved the box, only to start another series of movements. Responding to the greater space that the height of the box offered also highlighted the vertiginous danger of movement. The piece ended with the performer carrying the box off-stage, in an act of control over the object that both threatens and enables her freedom.

We Surface is a slide and sound installation based on the responses of a group of dancers to a white sculptured surface, something like a relief map of volcanic islands. The bodies of the dancers themselves become sculptural as they were captured moving across and within the terrain of the installation. Angle changes and edited shots of body parts were combined with the interjected voices of the male and female commentary to create a set of multiple perspectives in this coming to terms with surroundings.

Homeward Bound is a mixed installation of visual imagery, music and dance. Dressed in a sailor suit and with a rubber lilo, the performer invited response to a journey across the boundaries of self and sexuality. Moving between land and sea, self-engagement and flirtatious interaction, she was accompanied by sea shanties, whistling and the playful rhythms of using the foot pump. The quotation on the programme from Derek Walcott's Omeros, 'I bear my house inside me every where' was embodied in the relationship with the lilo. This was inflated and deflated, carried and carrying and like a raft offered safety and danger. The play between the sailor-boy/girl and lilo was also directed towards the audience, which was at once complicit in the voyage and distant from it. Tension between these shifting states of engagement and identification was well conceived in the changing styles of movement and image; self-assured humorous flirtation gave way to the insecurity of choppy seas. The performance offered completeness, beginning and ending with a notion of 'home' as both reliable and mutable.

Miranda Mason 12 March 1998