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David Bower on the highs and the wyrrd's of this years' Signdance programme / 26 March 2008

Isolte Avrila of Signdance Collective. Photo Nitra Festival

Isolte Avrila of Signdance Collective. Photo Nitra Festival

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Okay, so what ‘ails. Well quite a fair bit, its a big un' for us at the Signdance Collective this year. First, over the next few months, I will be reporting the events in the run-up for the Signdance collective showcase. The whole thing’s called The High-Wyrrd Showcase, and it is going to be held over a long weekend in the quaint little old market town of High Wycombe. It will all begin on Friday 19 - Sunday 21 September. As of now, the schedule is shaping up nicely, and we believe it represents a healthy broad range of local, national and international artists. It is an all-inclusive event, which aims to exclude no one.

Why High-Wyrrd - Wyrrd is an old English word, in this context the definition Wyrrd describes a situation or an event that brings about a shift in awareness and perception, i.e second sight. The sisters of fate, the ancient Greek mythological archetypes, have been coined The Wyrd sisters, and has been used famously as the title of one of Terry Prachett's books. Shakespeare also refers to them in his works.

The other thing I’am going to be writing about is the process of creating Signdance Collective’s new work, called Three Films + One. We have already covered a lot of ground with the first two pieces. Part one is called, The Words and part two is called Listen.

We have been collaborating with a guitarist, Alex Ward, from The Luke Barlow Band and also from Alex Ward and the Dead Ends (don’t ya just love that name!). In ‘The Words’ we are aiming to investigate the limitations of language, and by way of dance and visuality seek to explain stuff that words can’t describe and for that matter even impedes, like Daphne du Maurier’s, birds in the eponymous book ‘The Birds’. We created a part of this work in Graz, Austria just after the great storm, (although I can’t see what was so great about it). The whole city exuded an air of caution just like Hitchcocks scene at the schoolhouse in the movie The Birds.

The thing with oral language and even the written word is that sometimes we place so much faith in its infallibility that perhaps its possible that we may be denying ourselves insights due to the fog of words. For those of us who are deaf, this has a very real significance.

Listen came about as a piece to try to seek, investigate and introduce an example as to how disability is utilised as an artistic device/tool with which to create work. Art as as a primary function, which raises a mirror, as opposed to art as a statement, and thereby in turn reducing it to a secondary function that serves an ulterior purpose i.e spoonfeeding the audience. In this work, we are utilising ‘Tinnitus’, which is a constant sound or ‘ringing’ in the ears. The publicity describes it as thus,

Listen, the second of four 20 minute signdance/film pieces, utilizes a visual/sound computer programme on a wide screen, and several art forms combined to show how SDC's artistic director David Bower creates dance using his tinnitus (ringing in the ears), allowing the audience to experience his interpretation of sound. Music Luke Barlow, Film Sarana Mehra, Dance Isolte Avila

The next two pieces are Travelling and Here. Travelling, the final piece, will be created in Sardenia. We will be collaborating with Caravona’s Allesandro Mellis and Ornella D’Agostino. Carovana are a company that explores behavourial archeaology and contemporary dance. They will be choreographing the piece as well as creating a twin piece that they will perform too. ‘Here’ will happen in Turkey, Primoz Bayzak from Betontanc Dance in Slovenia will be working alongside Caglar Kimyoncu, a Turkish film-maker based in London to create the third part. We will have a fair bit of time in Turkey and Sardenia; I intend to document this as a travel log on this blog.