It’s all about encounters

So another month has whizzed by of my residency (far too quickly for my liking!) which has been full of exciting developments and explorations with a range of people from both inside and outside of the museum.


Over the past few weeks I have been working with dancer Ingrid Hatleskog to create the first public performance of my residency, which will be performed on Sunday 12th July at The Queen’s House (you can book tickets here). There are only encounters is a promenade duet that takes inspiration from The Art & Science of Exploration exhibition currently displayed in The Queen’s House and uses the theme of encounters between people on journeys of discovery and exploration as a starting point. Audiences will be divided into two groups, assigned to a dancer and led around a weaving trail of the beautiful house, meeting at certain points along the way.

Ingrid QH

Whilst researching the voyages of Captain Cook and engaging with the paintings that capture scenes from the journeys in The Queens House, I became increasingly curious about the encounters that Cook and the other people on the ships experienced with the inhabitants of the places they explored. I am interested not only in the nature of these many different encounters e.g. whether they were friendly, hostile or indifferent but also how these engagements related to the representation of peoples from both the indigenous and explorer perspectives.

BHC2371: ‘[Cascade Cove] Dusky Bay’ by William Hodges, 1775

BHC2371: ‘[Cascade Cove] Dusky Bay’ by William Hodges, 1775

In translating some of these ideas into choreography I was keen to avoid creating a narrative description of the encounters from Cooks voyages as literal representation through dance doesn’t relate so much to my practice. I am more interested in the broader idea of encounters and what possibilities this notion can offer from a movement perspective with two dancers. During the creative process I have also faced some challenging questions about what I, as a choreographer, working with a theme that can raise sensitive issues am comfortable representing through my work. I became very aware that the research materials I was engaging with were only from the perspective of the European explorer/writer and that there was a gap in information from the view point of the people from the receiving end of the encounters. I found that I had to distance myself a bit from the historical content of my research in order to continue with the practical process and make the work more about the encounters actually taking place between Ingrid and myself who are the meeting parties in the performance, which also made it more personal to us.

It has been amazing rehearsing in The Queen’s House and dancing in its opulent rooms. We have thoroughly enjoyed having passers-by watching and sometimes even copying us! I am very much looking forward to the performance.


In other news…I am sadly coming to the end of my first project with the Tidemill Cultural Explorers. We have been busy developing and refining dance workshop ideas for the public, asking varied questions relating to exploration, working with some objects from the handling collection that may appear in RE·THINK and inventing new ideas for how the Make-A-Mark wall could be used during the Exploration RE·THINK takeover from November. We will be culminating our term together by presenting our ideas for staff at the National Maritime Museum in early July and hopefully getting them involved in some of our dance activities too. I hope to work with the Cultural Explorers team and many more Tidemill students again from September.


Last week I also got to work with the brilliant Explorer Families again for our second workshop in RE·THINK. We had seven families involved in the session, which this time focused on the theme of landscape and physically explored the paintings of William Hodges. We had great fun making 3D moving landscapes and the group created some beautiful drawings of body outlines and pen movement descriptions, which gave the effect of unique layered maps. In our next session we will be venturing out of our base camp (RE·THINK) to explore trails around the museum.

BHC2370: View in Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Bay, New Zealand by  William Hodges, 1773-76

BHC2370: View in Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Bay, New Zealand by
William Hodges, 1773-76

Paper roll  photo 2

Lastly this month I was also lucky enough to spend the day with the four First Encounter artists: Karen McCarthy Woolf, Binita Walia, Daniel Baker and Ania Bas who will be delivering workshops/events in their practice on the theme of exploration later on this year.

“The First Encounters series was set up to echo the sense of curiosity, experimentation and innovation during the enlightenment era, to not only test out new ways of engaging the public with stories around the theme of exploration but to reflect on an push the practice of creative practitioners and educators within museum or gallery settings.”

 Ros Croker

I very much look forward to seeing what these great artists do in the museum.


There are only encounters-landscape

It would be great to see as many people as possible on the 12th July to watch There are only encounters. Audience numbers are limited so please book in advance.  Tickets are free.