classes given by London Contemorary Dance Theatre. ‘I didn’t have any expectations. but once I'd started. I just couldn‘t stop.‘ she explains. Dance. in those days, was enjoyed by a greater mix of people. Classes were shared by 40 year old actors. 20 year old art students and experienced ballet dancers. ‘There was‘a wonderful lack of embarrassment about pitching in at whatever level you could achieve .' she continues. Perhaps in response to those early experiences. Davies has remained spontaneous and unguarded.
Citing friend and fellow choreographer Richard Alston. now head of Ballet Rambert. as one of her early influences. Davies went on to be a leading dancer and choreographer for London Contemporary Dance Theatre. In the early 1980s she founded the inﬂuential dance company Second Stride with Alston and Ian Spink. an important step towards founding her own company in 1988.
The Siobhan Davies Company will perform two works for Mayfest. White Man Sleeps, set to a mesmeric score by Kevin Volans. involves clear. lyrical movement augmented by intelligent set and costume design. The more recent and interesting of the two pieces is
Different Trains. set to a difficult score by Steve Reich. Davies is clearly inspired by the music she works with. ‘Different Trains is a collection of aural ideas; string quartet, spoken word, rhythm and train sound. A very rich weaving to move in and out of. That‘s the most amazing companion to have on stage with you.‘
Taking the piece section by section Davies provides a key to its strange rhythmic nuances. Section one. she explains, was inspired by a train journey taken by Reich in the 1940s. Embodying a sense of excitement and discovery, the section is triggered by a recorded phrase spoken by Reich‘s childhood nanny. ‘well, we went from Chicago to New York.’ The lilt of her voice is picked up by the string quartet, who build on its rhythm. The middle section was inspired by the thought that if. as a jew, he had been on a different train in Germany, things would have been very different. ‘It is claustrophobic and paced, the way fear is.’ says Davies. This section is built around the recorded voices of three survivors ofthe Nazi holocaust: ‘On my birthday. the Germans walked in.‘
Despite Davies’ comprehensive understanding of the piece. there may be people who find it difficult to
Siobhan Davies Dance Company in DitterentTrains
accommodate its very modern sound. Ifthe music is distant. responds Davies. then her highly trained dancers compensate. ‘I feel I have a very humane group ofdancers to work with. They are really beautiful. They don‘t stand away from the audience, they come towards them. with whatever they‘ve got.’
Approaching choreography as a dancer, first and foremost. Davies
‘ sees herself as a teacher as well as
movement designer. ‘A choreographer not only has to make up work, but you have to get someone else to do it. You have to make it clear to them physically.‘ Full of praise for her excellent troupe ofdancers. Davies views them as individual components of a whole. ‘One should use a new dancer‘s quality and learn from it,‘ she says. ‘It‘s like having a completely new instrument to add to the sound. Ideally you should use what a new person brings in. instead oftrying to make them sound the same.‘ The Siobhan Davies Dance Company should be seen both by seasoned Davies fans and dance newcomers. for they are, indeed, the finely tuned instruments ofan inﬂuential British choreographer.
The Siobhan Davies Dance Company, Tramway, Mon 13 May.
V COMMUNIT Lone
The Lone Rangers
The community theatre element of Mayfest tends to be overshadowed by more glamorous professional productions. so it's good to see that this year two amateur companies have been given a chance to show what they can do in the city centre and. hopefully. to a bigger audience. One ofthcm is The Lone Rangers. a group ofsingle parents with a trioof short plays by Ann Swann called Dantpness In lilm Street. - ‘
Swann has previously
written for Borderline and BBC Radio and found the experience of writing for a community group of mostly completely
' radically different. ‘It's been very much their kind of work. based on their own experiences, rather than me just goingaway with a commission and writing a piece.‘ she says.
‘ It‘s all about issues
that affect them. dramatiscd from their own improvisations. What I did was to give them a structure — so the first and third plays are funny. broad farce. and the middle one a bit more poignant‘.
There is an argument that what differentiates community theatre from so-called ‘legitimate‘ theatre is that its value is as much what it does for the participants as for the audience. The therapeutic effect of working together on the play and re-enacting their experiences ofdivorce. acceptance and adjustment must have boosted the confidence of many ofthe Lone Rangers. ‘I think that's absolutely right.‘ agrees Swann. ‘it‘s great that they've done the play but the most important thing is that they've spent six months doing somethingfor themselves‘. (Andrea Baxter)
I )mnpness in [ﬁlm Street.
()1 (I A Iltenaeum ‘I hque,
Glasgow, Tue 7 May.
The List 3— I6 May 199T 19