This week we are highlighting a beautiful duet first performed in 2017
Father – Daughter. The duet performed by real life father daughter, dancers Kevin and Chloe Shepherd. has been performed at a number of theatres, conferences and events.
Father Daughter is a tender portrayal of a father and daughters relationship.
The dance is inspired by Kevin and Chloe’s shared love of dance and their family home, a secluded cottage nestled in a wood.
The piece is directed by by Rachel Liggitt
Music by; Best of Village Harmony, The Full English, M.Ward & Kayhan Kalhor
‘We witness the hard work of winter life at the cottage, the chopping of wood and the fuelling of fires. Throughout the narrative, Chloe’s journey to maturity is conveyed by hints of gentle conflict between father and daughter; her desire for independence confronting his awareness that parental protectiveness must now be accompanied by detachment and an encouragement of freedom. He retreats into the shadows and we are left with Chloe in a spotlight, standing alone, venturing forth as her own self-reliant woman’
The highlights below were edited from a film made by JTV Production at The Gateway , Shrewsbury in 2017
‘Ways of Being Together is a series of workshops, discussions and performances facilitated by Jo Fong centred around the idea of of Belonging. A sense of belonging is intimate and powerful, connected, optimistic, unknown and curious making’
Members of Contact dance Company were joined by dancers from around the region to dance under the energising and inspiring guidance of dance artist Jo Fong.
Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre, opera and the visual arts. Her eclectic career includes performances with DV8 Physical Theatre, Rosas (Belgium) and Rambert Dance Company. Recent collaborations include working with Wendy Houstoun, Sonia Hughes, Deborah Light, Unfinished Business, Skye Reynolds, National Theatre Wales, Welsh National Opera, Hull Dance and Quarantine
Jo really immersed us in movement; her own joy of moving (whole heartedly and energetically) was contagious. Jo built energy in our bodies and throughout the group and facilitated a climate of listening, physical playfulness and openness to change.
When Jo set us simple movement based tasks, for example ‘listening to a partners spine’, ‘dancing in partners, hands placed simply on shoulders’, or following our gaze to initiate movement. The tasks were explored with appetite, verve and sensitivity.
We also listened to the whole group dancing and our place in it, the ensemble as an animal, improvising, listening, accelerating, quieting and resting
It felt by the end of the two days as if the group had been really stretched, challenged, had worked hard physically and got a lot of joy from moving and being together.
Above are some images of the 2ndday of the workshop when Jo was working with Contact Dance Company. Photography is by Ewen Macintyre.
The qualities of touch, connection and presence are at the heart of Contact Dance company’s work, this shines out particularly in their new repertoire of duets ‘ Two Fold’
Contact Dance’s new film ‘A bridge between us’ shines a light on the making of these duets, the importance of connection between the dancers and the journey dancers go through emotionally, physically and technically in making duets.
Filmaker Jonathan Tritton has captured images of performance woven with interviews with company members to create the 10 minute film ‘A Bridge Between Us’
Friends, family, dancers, artists, managers, organisations, board members and many more gathered for the launch of our two-year dance program ‘Growing Together’ funded by Arts Council England at the Hive, Shrewsbury.
What a heart felt, friendly and joyous event it was – community spirit felt very much alive and kicking as we celebrated our recent funding success.
Ray and Rachel warmly welcomed attendees followed by a sharing of SiD’s story so far, highlighting key events and achievements. The co-directors then outlined plans for the two-year program ‘Growing Together’.
One of the main highlights was the premier of SiD’s film ‘A Bridge Between Us’, an outcome of SiD’s duet project Two To Tango. The film produced by JTV Production received excellent feedback and needs to be shared wide and far.
The evening ended with the revealing of a massive cake shared and enjoyed and lots of chatting with old friends and new.
It was with a real sense of pride and joy that Shropshire Inclusive Dance shared ‘Twofold’ to audiences at the Wolverhampton Arena. The work on show was a culmination of our ‘Two to Tango’ project funded by Creative Black Country. Eloquent and diverse duets by Contact Dance Company were performed alongside performances by groups in Wolverhampton we have worked with including Westcroft School and Mosaic Disability Theatre. The rich experiences and beautiful dancing that were present in our community workshops and company rehearsals all really come to life.
Here is a review from one of our audience members
‘Yesterday I had the joy of watching Contact Dance perform their programme Twofold twice, at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton. I can’t begin to communicate the profound beauty of choreographic connection conveyed by this company, thanks to the diverse skill and passion for dance demonstrated by all the artists. There is such a rich landscape of emotion, dynamic, and depth which touches and transports one across the stage and beyond. In this particular programme, through all the pieces weaved the theme of dueting; exploring and expressing the dynamics which come into play when individuals engage and merge with one another on many levels of relationship.
In ‘Unspoken’ Mervyn Bradley and Rachel Liggitt speak directly to the heart in their sensitive exploration of friendship and its ebbs and flows. Each supporting and protecting, while encouraging the other to take risks. Attachment and autonomy are in flow. Always maintained is the security of unconditional trust and tenderness, whether the dancers are connected or divided. This is about the ‘work’ of friendship, the effort, honesty and compromise necessary to nurture and empower a lasting bond with another person. This is also about love. The love that exists when two people understand and appreciate one another on a level that goes beyond words. Two very different dancers, Mervyn and Rachel take us on a poignant journey through the unity and solace to be found in true friend.
My brother Michael Wall and Andrew Kelly bring a powerful, energetic intensity to the stage in ‘While you broke through to other worlds’, thought provoking and open to individual interpretation. Is this a parting or a meeting? A reconciliation or a conflict? Perhaps these two people have discovered a division of ways along a previously shared path. There is certainly an insular atmosphere surrounding two separate entities striving to make opposite journeys; but somehow we know that each dancer has a fundamental need for the other. There remains a certainty that each man is facilitating and inspiring the other in his choices of direction. They resemble machines or rockets preparing for take off and landing, the self-contained movements erupting into sudden initiations of contact; launching, throwing, clasping, pushing. Aptly, Andrew’s and Michael’s voices ‘break through’ the music at the start and the end, reminding us that this is not a mechanical process, but very much a human one.
‘Twosome’ is a glorious, playful celebration of twinning; of the delight and harmony to be found in individual expression of the same ideas and motivations. Delphine Wise glides about the stage with grace and precision, as she manouvres the brakes and intricacies of her wheelchair, integral to the spirit of the choreography. Anna Belyavin executes identical movements by foot, running and spinning alongside. There is a sisterly affection, a vibrant closeness between the dancers allowing each to predict and be energised by the other’s interpretation of the choreography, reciprocating the gestures and movements extended and retracted. There are moments when each woman embarks on her own movement motif simultaneously, reminding us that identical motivations have potential for diverse consequences.
In the poetic ‘Father Daughter’, Chloe Shepherd and Ray Jacobs (who was standing in last night for Chloe’s real-life father and usual dance partner), tell the story of family love in a secluded rural cottage. Following a rustic morris dance, Chloe’s birth and childhood is represented by the celebration of an invisible baby; shown to the audience by her father, glowing with pride and wonder. Then Chloe, now a beautiful young woman, emerges from the shadows for real, and the two begin to waltz tenderly, spinning and stepping in time, absorbed by their joy in one another. We witness the hard work of winter life at the cottage, the chopping of wood and the fuelling of fires. Throughout the narrative, Chloe’s journey to maturity is conveyed by hints of gentle conflict between father and daughter; her desire for independence confronting his awareness that parental protectiveness must now be accompanied by detachment and an encouragement of freedom. He retreats into the shadows and we are left with Chloe in a spotlight, standing alone, venturing forth as her own self-reliant woman.
Contact Dance elevate me to a place of pure joy; reaffirming my faith in dance as an expression of the soul as much as the body. This company is a gift to the world of theatre and community. It was also a privilege to watch the students of Westcroft School in their piece ‘Connections’, and Mozaic Disability Theatre performing ‘Will You Dance With Me’.
It was quite a day for Contact Dance, performing our first piece away from Shropshire, in the beautiful Quay Theatre at The Lowry, Salford.
Our new piece ‘Reach for the Sky’ involves twelve dancers, and we had all been invited by So Many Words Theatre Company to perform the piece as part of a showcase called ‘The Clouds Show Riches’.
Ten of us set off from Shropshire on Wednesday morning, on the Mencap Minibus (many thanks to Mencap), while dancers Rachel and Anna were still busy teaching at the Birmingham Dance Exchange.
We arrived and were impressed by all the beautiful architecture and water at Salford Quay; an exploratory stroll around the building eventually led us to the Quay Theatre.
After a fair bit of banging on random stage doors trying to get in, we eventually arrived on stage for our technical run through. But still no Rachel and Anna, who were driving as fast as they legally could, up the M6.
We marked through the piece, trying out lighting with the skilful and friendly technical crew. Everyone was excited to be on stage; it was challenging performing the piece, which involved much legging it through a dark tunnel back stage to find our proper entrance points in the wings, and getting used to unexpected clouds of smoke as we tried out different lighting effects.
Another problem was that the stage was much larger then we were used to, so the whole piece was taking much longer and we were running out of music. But no panic….
The dancers dealt with these challenges brilliantly. Rachel and Anna arrived, hooray! One group was late so we had another chance to run the piece with the whole company, hooray again! And in the meantime we had re-edited the music to take into account the wider stage. In the way that things do, everything turned out fine.
After the technical rehearsal, we had an hour to mess about in Salford quay, most certainly not mess around on the escalators and find something to eat and get back to the venue.
Contact dancers watched the first half of the show, which included a brilliant performance by Dance Syndrome. There was much frantic changing during the interval, nervous warming up, the occasional emotional crisis and Rachel’s impromptu and comical Bollywood dances to put everyone at ease….
Eventually we took to the stage, everyone seemed to really enjoy performing. The dance went really well and the dancers found their focus, presence and energy. The crowd gave us huge applause, we bowed and left the stage.
After much chatter and hugs and no beer (sad face), we headed home back down the M6 or we would of it it hadn’t of been closed for repairs. I think it was about 2am before the last of us arrived back home. A long, exciting and truly worthwhile adventure. Many thanks to So Many Words Theatre Company, Mencap, and Disability Arts Shropshire for providing the funding that made it all possible.