Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones

Company members included in the research and presentation of Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones are; Director,  Nicole Vivien Watson, Performing Artists; Charlie Dearnley, Christopher Fonseca and Alex Rowland, Set design by Graham Patterson and Sound by Tom White. Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones.

Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones currently exists as an enquiry and process of choreographic research, that is centred upon an experiential understanding and knowledge of British Sign Language, D/deaf culture, Japanese culture and Butoh. Language, sensation, communication and physical expression through movement, and wearable technology, are five of the principle interests that will be researched andthought-over throughout events taking place throughout 2019-2020. 

In December 2018, the first of four periods of studio research took place in Leeds, (UK) during which the named collective embarked upon 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), which can be translated as a gap/pause/interval — together 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 in silence. 

As a collective of hearing and Deaf artists, the group's shared time and offerings of artistic and intellectual resources will provide and instigate new avenues of enquiry, that will inform how an audience experiences the final presentation of all considered elements of research, within the context of  live performances and discussions.  

With a commission from Dance City (UK), research funding from the British Council and Tokyo Council and partnership support from the Wellcome Collection (UK), Berwick Visual Arts (UK), and the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation (Athens), it is hoped to extend the reach of participation, by engaging visiting participants and audiences, who take part in the presentation of Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones, the opportunity to experience the wealth of cultural diversity, that is evident in the culmination of final rehearsals and live performances. Photography by Paul Miller, Dance City, Featuring SubPack - wearable technology that translates sound to vibration. 

The Mud Formed A Finger, Pointed & Raft 

Raft, Photography by Paul Miller, Workplace Gallery, UK, 2017. All rights reserved.

Press Links: 


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 Giraudeau, 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 interrogation 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

Auricular, 2014 - 2017 

Auricular, photography by Nicole Vivien Watson, Turner Contemporary, UK 2017. All rights reserved.

Auricular a multidisciplinary performance inspired by British Sign Language (BSL) sensory processing and communication. Auricular intends to construct an immersive sensory environment through dance, sound and BSL, evoking a state of being which plays between the sensual, physical and affected.

Dance City and BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art (UK) firstly commissioned Auricular, in 2014 and 2015. With support from Arts Council England and partnering organisations, Auricular was then recently presented in April 2017, at CCA: Glasgow, Berwick Visual Arts and Turner Contemporary.

“British Sign Language is a language of movement, space and expression. As a movement researcher and choreographer, I am fascinated by the depth and clarity of a language that does not rely on the spoken word”. (Ref, Nicole Vivien Watson, 2015)

Auricular  is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Project Godie Live Events, August 2016

Co-Produced by Surface Area Dance Theatre and Adam Denton and Directed and Choreographed by Vangeline. Project Godie is a multi-platform exploration of the shared industrial, military and cultural heritage of the North East of England and Japan and is supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Performing Artists: Molly Procter, Nicole Vivien Watson and Vangeline, Sonic Performance: Trans/Human, Costume Design and Creation: Katerina Dipla, Lighting Design: Louise Gregory

"It's more about movement than dance; and those movements have only been arrived at through long, drawn-out exercises in stripping away layer upon layer of socially conditioned thought and action to eventually reveal the twitching, pulsing sentient being suffocating underneath".

Review of Project Godie Live Events: Kopf, Biba. The Wire. (2016, November). On-Site. Exhibitions, installations, etc. p.83

Project Godie Live Events, photography by Aaron Guy, All Saint's Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2016. All rights reserved.

A Mountain of Black Stones, 2015 - 2016

A Mountain of Black Stones, photography by Nick Tsakanikas, Beton7, Athens, 2016. All rights reserved

A somatic live performance, that rests upon the interplay of sculpture, performed movement and sound. The environment of the performance is conditioned by a large and sculpted spatially - dominate the quantity of coal. Buried within the sculpture are four independent stereo units, amplifying a composed collection of sounds, constructed from a series of real - world and synthetic sounds, dissociated from the living environment of the performance space. Thereby making a distinction between contexts that are physically known to those that are abstracted.

Performances are choreographed to evoke metaphorical meaning, this experienced individually, by the audience, from the first moments of encountering the sculpture. The intention of the performance is to facilitate an immersive sensory environment, whereby the parameters of the viewer’s awareness becomes blurred. Supported by the Embassy of Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Athens and the British Council in Athens.

Performed by: Nicole Vivien Watson, Installation by Yorgos Maraziotis, the Sound performance by Klunks.

Selected Repertoire

‘Hand in Hand’ featured review published by Disability Arts Online

By Connect | Mar 29, 2019

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…

Read More

Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones

By Connect | Feb 8, 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…

Read More


By Connect | Nov 5, 2017

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…

Read More

Would you like to find out more about Surface Area Dance Theatre?

We'd love to share our news with you

Surface Area Logo
Arts Council logo
disability confident