Courtesy of the British Council and the British Embassy Tokyo, Company Director, Nicole Vivien Watson will be returning to Japan in the Autumn, to hold a residency at Ise City, the home of Ise Jingu (Ise Grand Shrine). The starting-point of her research will be investigations into the architecture and artistry of the shrine’s Torii (鳥居)(Gateway to the shrine). Every Japanese shrine has a Torii, passing through the gateway is a symbolic action, a sign that one has passed from the every-day into a spiritual world.
“I’m very thankful to be one of the six artists invited to take part in the programme and to have the opportunity to hold meetings with Japanese Shinto priests, craft makers, local residents and artists, making new friendships and discovering even more about a country, culture and people I hold so dear”. Nicole Vivien Watson
– Sunrise at Ujibashi Bridge, Ise Shrine (around the winter solstice), photo by Jingushicho (Jingu Administration Office)
By clearing evidencing progressive strategies, Surface Area Dance Theatre is celebrating a further two years of Disability Confident Employer status, awarded by the Department of Work and Pensions and has committed to four priorities;
1, challenging attitudes towards disability
2, increasing understanding of disability
3, removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
4, ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.
Surface Area Dance Theatre is committed to making the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the organisation and will continue to challenge negative stereotypes by supporting and encouraging ability.
An excerpt from a recently published review of ‘Hand in Hand’ covered by Disability Arts Online (DAO). Sincere thanks to DAO for capturing the spirit of this extraordinary event so perfectly!
“The strength of this piece was in collaboration and accessibility which was integral right from inception and this played beautifully on stage – there was no BSL interpreter as an add-on. In moments of text, there were always two performers playing back and forth with each other, one using stunning flowing BSL and the other spoken English, with points of joint signing which would flow back into or out of the dance…”.
Congratulations to all involved in the ‘Hand in Hand’ project and many thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for your continued encouragement.
Photographed by Paul Miller, Dance City, March 2019.
Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones, exists as an enquiry and process of choreographic research, centred upon Nicole Vivien Watson’s understanding and knowledge of British Sign Language, Deaf culture and Butoh.
Language, communication and physical expression through movement, are three of the principal interests Nicole has chosen to include in the present-phase of artistic developments, culminating in live performances, that will take place in the UK and beyond throughout 2020. In December 2018, the first of four periods of studio research took place in Leeds, during which, three dance artists, Charlie Dearnley, Chris Fonseca and Alex Rowland, joined Nicole and musician Tom White and visual artist Graham Patterson to begin the first chapter of their shared journey.
The opening or gateway, to the collective’s coming together, was supported by the introduction of Ma (間) as the group began to physically interpret the possibilities of Ma, responding with an assertive series of gestures, postures and settlements of physical contact, instigated by the proposition of using the entire body as a listening instrument, capable of feeling, touching and seeing the colours and textures of sound, sound in space and sound in silence.
As a collective of hearing and Deaf artists, the group’s shared time and offerings of artistic and intellectual resources are providing and instigating new avenues of enquiry, which will be thought over, structured and reorientated within the choreography’s identity, encountered by future audiences and participants.
Company Director, Nicole Vivien Watson, returns to the UK from a remarkable journey to the West coast of Japan. The venture was motivated by her on-going research into the life and works of Lafcadio Hearn (小泉八雲). The photographs below were taken at Hearn’s former residence in Metsue. With many thanks and kind wishes to Bon Koizumi, Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum Director; Great-grandson of Lafcadio Hearn.
Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was a British national of Greek and Irish descent, who was educated at Ushaw College in County Durham, England. After travelling over halfway around the globe, he arrived in Japan. In 1896, he married Koizumi Setsu, the daughter of a Matsue samurai, and became a Japanese citizen. During his fifty-four years of life, he produced thirty works, including Kwaidan, which he wrote in his later years.
Photographs of Lafcadio Hearn’s home and garden Matsue, Japan. 7 of June, 2018. By Nicole Vivien Watson.
THE MUD FORMED A FINGER, POINTED & RAFT
8th of December 17, at CCA: GLASGOW
20th of December 17, at WORKPLACE GATESHEAD
Two live 20-30 minute performances with a 30 minute intermission.
The Mud Formed A Finger, Pointed explores creation myth and Messy Play, while Raft is a navigation of self via astrology. Made in collaboration between Matthew De Kersaint Graudeau, Ben Jeans Houghton and Nicole Vivien Watson.
The Mud Formed A Finger, Pointed offers a study of the human body as an uncanny object that oscillates between figuration and abstraction, body and material, depicting an object becoming human, a human becoming an object and the protean states between.
Nicole Vivien Watson emerges from an industrial bucket, her body covered in dripping, viscous liquid. The work embodies a contemporary creation myth that melds object and subject, abject and sacred, non-human and human. By invoking the narrative imagery of creation myths where humans are formed from the earth, within the aesthetic of the fetish Messy Play and through the language of Butoh, the performance links our understandings of the contemporary body and our imaginings of a primordial past.
Raft explores inner and outer landscapes, through Nicole’s choreographed mapping and navigation of the solar system and the self performed on a sculptural Zodiac stage. Presenting a dialogue between the microcosm and the macrocosm, mapping the relationships between distant stars, the present individual and the planets, in an exploration and interogation of the esoteric and exoteric aspects of self.
Raft draws inspiration from: ‘The Archaic Revival’ – the invigoration of principles and practices whose efficacy was mislaid during the divorce of science and spirituality. ‘Alchemical Practice’ – the ritual arrangement of persons and symbols in the physical world to create a narrative dialogue that changes the conceptual and emotional world within us. ‘Self exploration’ – the quest to know oneself via a navigation of our emotional and historical experience of being.
The Mud Formed A Finger, Pointed & Raft is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
伯父 UNCLE offers audiences an intimate and personal insight into the Butoh world. Yoshito Ohno gifted the waistcoat, exhibited in the center – point of the room, to Nicole after their reunion in Yokohama, at the Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio in 2016. The waistcoat’s skillful craftsmanship and modest design are emblematic of the qualities that sew and weave the societal fabrics of the Butoh movement.
Waistcoat, courtesy of Yoshito Ohno and the Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio
Water Lilies 2 1994, Teatre Fonte, Yokohama (1994). Photography by Eikoh Hosoe, Calligraphy by Masakatsu Gunji.
Surface Area Dance Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Celebration is fast approaching and as part of the evening, Vangeline founder of the New York Butoh Institute will perform the reimagining of Project Godie – Firstly performed at All Saint’s Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, on the 12 and 13 of August 2016.
“I am thrilled and honored to have the tremendous opportunity to collaborate with Surface Area Dance Theatre and return to Newcastle upon Tyne this year, in the spirit of cultural exchange and friendship between people. I am also grateful for this new opportunity to share the art form butoh with the community and support the creation of new works.” Vangeline.
Photo credit: Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, NYC (January 2016) by Darial Sneed.