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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: White Man Sleeps

Summary

Made for five dancers, White Man Sleeps was originally choreographed as part of the first programme for her new company in 1988, and set to the string quartet version of Kevin Volans' music. The dance has been revised several times since so it exists in a number of different versions. It was filmed in 1989 and first reworked in 1997 using the original score for two African-tuned harpsichords, viola da gamba and a rattle. This score reveals more accurately the rythmical structure and the connectivity between the musicians, and therefore had an impact on the dancers' movement. Several sections of the dance were adapted because of the new music and dancers. The piece was reworked again in 2000 and 2005, Davies aiming to get ever closer to how she wanted the piece to feel and look.

Analysis

‘The most interesting aspect of the different versions is perhaps the dialogue between music and dance. In the first version, set to the western tuning (equal temperament) of the string instruments, which produces a more homogenous sound, ‘motion’ rather than ‘position’ is emphasised, contributing to the perception of fluidity in the dance. Davies reflects the legato of the strings with movement that has a sinuous, relaxed and gentle dynamic. The revival is edgier and more percussive. The change to instruments that are plucked, struck and shaken, and which preserves the separate identity of each instrument, produces a different timbre, a rougher, raw dynamic, which increases the immediacy of the rhythmic complications of both the music and movement’ (Sarah Whatley, 2005).

'Davies and the dancers tried to place the rhythmical score inside the body. Notes appeared from movement that was generated within the centre of the body, emerging out through the skin and joints into the space. An image of the hands encircling the head, extending the human face forward into a muzzle finished off many phrases. Both the choreography and performance were informed by images of the length of human and animal paces and the broken patterning of Shoowa cloth design painted on the floor' (Deborah Saxon, 2009).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: White Man Sleeps
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Tammy Arjona, Laurent Cavanna, Scott Clark, Gill Clarke, Paul Douglas, Sean Feldman, Michael Fulwell, David Hughes, Matthew Morris, Pari Naderi, Paul Old, Lauren Potter, Catherine Quinn, Mariusz Raczynski, Sasha Roubicek, Lizie Saunderson, Deborah Saxon, Sarah Warsop
  • Music: Kevin Volans
  • Music - comments: White Man Sleeps (1982) revised for string quartet, 1986, by kind permission of Chester Music Ltd.
  • Musicians: Carole Cerasi (harpsichord)
  • Musicians - comments: Steven Smith, Clive Hughes, Nic Pendlebury, Sophie Harris/Tanya Smith perform as the Degas Quartet (1988), and renamed Smith Quartet (1990); Matteo Fargion, Carole Cerasi, Reiko Ichise and James Johnston/Vincent Ranger perform the original 1982 score for the 1997 & 2005 tours of White Man Sleeps.
  • Designer: David Buckland
  • Design - comments: Set and Costume Design
  • Lighting Design: Peter Mumford
  • Costume Maker: Penny Thompson - 1988 Sasha Keir - 1997
  • Film Director: Peter Mumford
  • Painter: Scenic Painting - John Campbell
  • Other TV/Film/Radio Credits: Shown with Wyoming as part of Channel Four's Dance on Four series 28/05/1989
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Made for five dancers, White Man Sleeps was originally choreographed as part of the first programme for her new company in 1988, and set to the string quartet version of Kevin Volans' music. The dance has been revised several times since so it exists in a number of different versions. It was filmed in 1989 and first reworked in 1997 using the original score for two African-tuned harpsichords, viola da gamba and a rattle. This score reveals more accurately the rythmical structure and the connectivity between the musicians, and therefore had an impact on the dancers' movement. Several sections of the dance were adapted because of the new music and dancers. The piece was reworked again in 2000 and 2005, Davies aiming to get ever closer to how she wanted the piece to feel and look.
  • Analysis: ‘The most interesting aspect of the different versions is perhaps the dialogue between music and dance. In the first version, set to the western tuning (equal temperament) of the string instruments, which produces a more homogenous sound, ‘motion’ rather than ‘position’ is emphasised, contributing to the perception of fluidity in the dance. Davies reflects the legato of the strings with movement that has a sinuous, relaxed and gentle dynamic. The revival is edgier and more percussive. The change to instruments that are plucked, struck and shaken, and which preserves the separate identity of each instrument, produces a different timbre, a rougher, raw dynamic, which increases the immediacy of the rhythmic complications of both the music and movement’ (Sarah Whatley, 2005). 'Davies and the dancers tried to place the rhythmical score inside the body. Notes appeared from movement that was generated within the centre of the body, emerging out through the skin and joints into the space. An image of the hands encircling the head, extending the human face forward into a muzzle finished off many phrases. Both the choreography and performance were informed by images of the length of human and animal paces and the broken patterning of Shoowa cloth design painted on the floor' (Deborah Saxon, 2009).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 1988
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-03
  • Media type: Profile
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: with Wyoming (1988): 09/11/88 - 13/11/88 - Riverside Studios, London (Premiere) 11/05/89 - 13/05/89 - Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton 19/05/89 - 20/05/89 - Scottish Ballet Studio Theatre, Glasgow 02/06/89 - Northcott Theatre, Exeter with Different Trains (1990): 08/11/90 - 10/11/90 - Sadler's Wells, London 16/11/90 - 17/11/90 - Arnolfini, Bristol 19/11/90 - Northcott Theatre, Exeter 21/11/90 - Connaught Theatre, Worthing 26/11/90 - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 30/11/90 - 01/12/90 - Playhouse, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 06/12/90 - 07/12/90 - University of Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry with Bank (1997): 09/05/97 - 10/05/97 - Grand Theatre, Blackpool 15/05/97 - 17/05/97 - Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton 30/05/97 - 31/05/97 - Arts Theatre, Cambridge 03/06/97 - 04/06/97 - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield with Bank (1997) & The Art of Touch (1995) 09/10/97 - 10/10/97 - Repertory Theatre, Birmingham 17/10/97 - 18/10/97 - RNCM, Manchester 24/10/97 - Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon 28/10/97 - 30/10/97 - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 04/11/97 - 09/11/97 - Joyce Theater, New York City, USA 04/02/00 Studio Event - The Linbury Theatre, London 23/06/00 Studio Event - The Lowry, Salford with Bird Song (2004): 09/06/05 - 10/06/05 - Salisbury Playhouse 26/09/05 - 28/09/05 - Sadler's Wells, London
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  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesarchive.com/record/34