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The Choreographic Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance

Title: Dance Work

Work: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

Summary

Originally made for Rambert Dance Company in 1992 and reworked for Siobhan Davies Dance in 1998. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues uses the power and rhythmic qualities of Fredric Rzewski's piano score which is extended by a soundscape of industrial noise (looms in a British working mill). A working environment, particularly that of the southern states of America, is established in the nexus of movement, sound, and design. The dancers are costumed in simple shirts and trousers, resembling work clothes. The costumes give further emphasis to the idea of the vernacular or the 'everyday', and allow the dancers to move freely.

Analysis

‘Rzewski treats the piano as both an operational mechanism and an expressive medium, the pianist as technician as well as musician. Echoing this tension, the choreography takes the body as both a mode of production and a means of expression. At its centre are the rhythms of manual work, the relayed sequences and cyclical procedures of mechanised labour. The dancers adjust themselves to this framework, or move away into smaller, more personable interactions and moments of separation’ (Sanjoy Roy, programme note, 1998).

‘Lighting design creates powerful effects, particularly when lights ‘pulsate’ and when banks of lights are lowered to the ground mid-way through the dance, suggesting the intensity and heat of bodies in close proximity to machinery in an industrial context. By restricting the dancers’ space in which they can dance, attention is drawn to the movement that is performed close to the dancers’ bodies, particularly the gestural movement. Much of the movement vocabulary is developed out of hand gestures to evoke the mechanised world of factory workers. Actions that make reference to wheeling, threading, pushing, weaving, stitching, pushing pedals and so on, are performed either collectively or individually. Importantly, gestures are made not only by hands and arms but also by feet and legs. The reference to factory work is also implied by the floor patterns created by dancers moving predominantly in straight lines (across the stage or on the diagonal) and occasionally in circles, like wheels...The motor pulse of the music frequently dictates the rhythm and phrasing of the movement. The dancers stand or walk plainly, marking out time, whilst other dancers perform faster, more complex material. This mirrors the sound layers in the music. Overall, the interrelationship between dance and music suggests a relentless, driven quality, the dancers impelled to keep going with few periods of rest’ (Sarah Whatley, 2002, 2006).

Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues revival 1998
'In recognition of this year being her twenty-fifth year as a choreographer and the tenth anniversary of Siobhan Davies Dance Company, Davies extended the size of her company to ten dancers, the same number of dancers that danced in the original.

The dancers began working on this revival by reconstructing some sections of choreography from the ‘original’ version on video, which then became a starting point from which changes were made. In reworking, Davies deliberately took the dancers through the same choreographic process as she used in the ‘original’, meaning that, although much of the dance structure remained unchanged in the revival, much of the dancers’ movement is different.

The technical training of the dancers in the revival was quite different, resulting in differences in the spatial patterning and dynamic quality in each version. For example, turning in the revival is always the result of another part of the body motivating movement. Turns become connecting movement, skimming the floor, whereas in the ‘original’, turns are danced more upright, more vertically, emphasising the upward motion in the torso, drawing attention to the turn as an isolated movement and in revisiting the gestural movement, the dancers explored how to involve the whole body to find ways for the pedestrian action of the lower body in these parts to have more interest’ (Sarah Whatley, 2002, 2006).

Dance Work

  • Series Title: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
  • Title: Dance Work
  • Choreographer: Siobhan Davies
  • Dancers: Amanda Britton, Sean Feldman, David Hughes, John Kilroy, Henry Montes, Matthew Morris, Paul Old, Lauren Potter, Catherine Quinn, Deborah Saxon, Sarah Warsop, Steven Brett, Alexandra Dyer, Glenn Wilkinson, Yolande Yorke-Edgell, Lee Boggess, Gabrielle McNaughton, Colin Poole
  • Music: Frederic Rzewski
  • Music - comments: Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues taken from North American Ballads (1978-79)
  • Sound Score: Roger Heaton and Mark Underwood
  • Sound Score - comments: Loom sound score recorded at the Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry, Helmshore and Quarry Bank Mill, Styal
  • Musicians: Andrew Ball (piano), Daniel Moriyama (piano), John Sweeney (piano)
  • Musicians - comments: John Sweeney for Rambert Dance Company Andrew Ball & Daniel Moriyama for Siobhan Davies Dance
  • Designer: David Buckland
  • Design - comments: Siobhan Davies Dance reworking
  • Lighting Design: Peter Mumford
  • Costume Designer - comments: Costumes realised/styled by Sasha Keir
  • SDDO Creator: Paul Allender and Ross Varney
  • Summary: Originally made for Rambert Dance Company in 1992 and reworked for Siobhan Davies Dance in 1998. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues uses the power and rhythmic qualities of Fredric Rzewski's piano score which is extended by a soundscape of industrial noise (looms in a British working mill). A working environment, particularly that of the southern states of America, is established in the nexus of movement, sound, and design. The dancers are costumed in simple shirts and trousers, resembling work clothes. The costumes give further emphasis to the idea of the vernacular or the 'everyday', and allow the dancers to move freely.
  • Analysis: ‘Rzewski treats the piano as both an operational mechanism and an expressive medium, the pianist as technician as well as musician. Echoing this tension, the choreography takes the body as both a mode of production and a means of expression. At its centre are the rhythms of manual work, the relayed sequences and cyclical procedures of mechanised labour. The dancers adjust themselves to this framework, or move away into smaller, more personable interactions and moments of separation’ (Sanjoy Roy, programme note, 1998). ‘Lighting design creates powerful effects, particularly when lights ‘pulsate’ and when banks of lights are lowered to the ground mid-way through the dance, suggesting the intensity and heat of bodies in close proximity to machinery in an industrial context. By restricting the dancers’ space in which they can dance, attention is drawn to the movement that is performed close to the dancers’ bodies, particularly the gestural movement. Much of the movement vocabulary is developed out of hand gestures to evoke the mechanised world of factory workers. Actions that make reference to wheeling, threading, pushing, weaving, stitching, pushing pedals and so on, are performed either collectively or individually. Importantly, gestures are made not only by hands and arms but also by feet and legs. The reference to factory work is also implied by the floor patterns created by dancers moving predominantly in straight lines (across the stage or on the diagonal) and occasionally in circles, like wheels...The motor pulse of the music frequently dictates the rhythm and phrasing of the movement. The dancers stand or walk plainly, marking out time, whilst other dancers perform faster, more complex material. This mirrors the sound layers in the music. Overall, the interrelationship between dance and music suggests a relentless, driven quality, the dancers impelled to keep going with few periods of rest’ (Sarah Whatley, 2002, 2006). Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues revival 1998 'In recognition of this year being her twenty-fifth year as a choreographer and the tenth anniversary of Siobhan Davies Dance Company, Davies extended the size of her company to ten dancers, the same number of dancers that danced in the original. The dancers began working on this revival by reconstructing some sections of choreography from the ‘original’ version on video, which then became a starting point from which changes were made. In reworking, Davies deliberately took the dancers through the same choreographic process as she used in the ‘original’, meaning that, although much of the dance structure remained unchanged in the revival, much of the dancers’ movement is different. The technical training of the dancers in the revival was quite different, resulting in differences in the spatial patterning and dynamic quality in each version. For example, turning in the revival is always the result of another part of the body motivating movement. Turns become connecting movement, skimming the floor, whereas in the ‘original’, turns are danced more upright, more vertically, emphasising the upward motion in the torso, drawing attention to the turn as an isolated movement and in revisiting the gestural movement, the dancers explored how to involve the whole body to find ways for the pedestrian action of the lower body in these parts to have more interest’ (Sarah Whatley, 2002, 2006).
  • Publisher: SDDO
  • Production Date - original: 1992
  • Production Date - SDDO: 2008-04-03
  • Media type: Profile
  • Source: SDDO
  • Relation: Profile
  • Word Count: 0
  • Tour: Rambert Dance Company: 13/03/92 - 14/03/92 - Theatr Clywd, Mold 16/04/92 & 18/04/92 - Northcott Theatre, Exeter (full-length version with loom sound score) Siobhan Davies Dance reworking: 30/04/98 - 01/05/98 - Playhouse, Oxford 06/05/98 - Swan, High Wycombe 15/05/98 - 16/05/98 - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh 22/05/98 - 23/05/98 - Arts Theatre, Cambridge 29/05/98 - 30/05/98 - Grand Theatre, Blackpool 26/07/98 - Kalamata Castle Amphitheatre, Greece 01/10/98 - 03/10/98 - Barbican Theatre, London 09/10/98 - 10/10/98 - Royal Northern Colege of Music, Manchester 14/10/98 - 15/10/98 (16/17th?) - Repertory Theatre, Birmingham 23/10/98 - Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester 03/11/98 - Cankarjev dom, Slovenia
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  • Permanenent URL: http://siobhandaviesarchive.com/record/37