This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

July 2008 / 26 July 2008

Whoah!..I just left it hanging there. Since I last wrote, I think that in the last few months, I have experienced some of the most full, rich, intense, rewarding, and challenging times that I have ever had. Everything is happening for us here at the Signdance collective. Picking up from where I left. Istanbul was a mad, crazy, non-stop filming and rehearsal explosion. Our team comprised of Isolte Avilla (dancer), Primosh Bayzak(director), Caglar Kimyoncu (film-maker), and myself (dancer). 


Every day was 'mission negotiate city inaccessible' to get those shots we needed for Here (One of the four pieces created for Three Films Plus One. The end result a virtual complete memory of our time in the city. In a way, I felt, we lived there more deeply than the short time that we were there suggested. We lived there through Caglars eyes. For Caglar this was a return to the city where he had lived for some time back in the nineties. Owing to some nifty chopping from Caglar, our editing guru, the film is now in my view, a powerful and moving piece of work. It is a luxury to have this piece projected on set in Here. It powers the choereography, a visual music score that imprints rhythmic ghost which sustain and colours our energy and perceptions as performers.

Primosh Bayzak, our director hails from the magical country of Slovenia. Primosh is a founding and current member of Slovenia's internationally acclaimed dance theatre company, 'Betontanc' (Slovenian for 'concrete'). Here represents Primosh's first time as a director. He also came up with the concept, taking inspiration from a painting created by his friend who is a Slovenian artist. The painting depicts a man and a woman in bed, both of whom are watching their own televisions, they are both turned away with their backs facing towards each other. The image is very stark, it portrays how even in close proximity to another, one can feel utterly alone in the world. I am incredibly proud of this piece. I also feel that it represents a significant development for our medium, sign dance theatre. It is a deceptively simple piece, very precise in its locomotion and timing. The still moments in the piece belie an undercurrent of a thousand unsaid things.

Mark Holub, the composer, and Luke Barlow joined us when we left Istanbul to travel to Cannakale, composed a score that syncopates and reveals truths throughout the work, his music raises and allows the work to soar into universal and sublime spaces. Vicky Heathcock the technical director joined us later, to assist us in defining how we could begin to realise the various elements in the piece. Not only is there Caglars film but also there is a live cctv camera monitoring the bed. All of this along with the lighting has to be operated by Vicky and represents in effect another player in the story, a character with undertones of an omnipotent Big Brother or in this case Sister! On one level the work focuses on a very small 'stage', that is a room with a bed, two televisions, where there are two people, this room may be in our mind, or within a vast sprawling metropolis. On another level the piece becomes a metaphor for a world that is struggling to communicate across a cultural divide.

During our time in Istanbul, we set up a shot on the High street, just off Taksim Square. Taksim Square, is an iconic location in Turkey, the setting for hundreds of valiant demonstrations against corrupt government practices and the latest current international economic takeover. Today it is constantly monitered by police troops who instructions are to quell and suppress dissent should any democratic demonstrations arise. They had machine guns and riot shields in order to make their point. We were able to secure a permit to film. However past experience has taught us to be wary of aggressive security gaurds and the like. This particular take, involved panning around the choreography in a wide circle(handheld). This not only yielded a dynamic shot, it also drew a huge crowd that formed a tight circle around us.

Cannakale is located at the Mediterreanean end of the Bosphorus Straits, the setting for the battle of Gallipolli and former home to the Trojans. We were based not too far from where Agamemnon fulminated on the beach, where he summoned his motley legions of warriors to take charge and sack the fabled city of Troy just down the road. Meanwhile we had our own battle to deal with. We worked outside on the roof top of the cafe across the road. The view across the Bosphorus was incredible with all manner of shipping sailing to far off places. One time in rehearsals, during a tense moment in the scene, I have to face away, for a moment to reflect. I saw one of the largest vessels ever - a UN ship destined, I imagined for some site of conflict. Now whenever we perform the work this location always appears in my minds eye. Gallipolli, Troy, the UN ship and the relationship between the two characters as they battle through the barb wires of their own private communication breakdown.

On the very last day we all finally managed to take our first and only day off. So we siezed the opportunity to visit Troy. At Troy there was an amphitheatre, where we proceeded to perform an impromptu piece of Signdance theatre. I think we would have done old master Priam proud. As soon as we got back we gathered ourselves and headed to a conference in Brighton, exhausted but confident that we had a piece of powerful work. This represented its first pre-view, it was particuarly rewarding in that it caught the eye of several promoters from various European festivals. So now with Priams blessing here begins the adventures of Here