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Terrarium – Dance In A Bubble, August 1 to 12
DO you remember Rhino, the hamster in the glass bowl, in Disney’s 2009 animated adventure Bolt?
Now comes Leeds choreographer Simon Birch’s Terrarium – Dance In A Bubble, a newly commissioned performance that “moves to the rhythm of the North York Moors” from tomorrow until August 12.
Performed by two dancers, Terrarium takes place in a clear, thick plastic bubble, four and a half metres in diameter, that enables the audience to view the dance in relation to the surrounding landscape – and what landscape it is!
As part of the North York Moors National Park’s 60th anniversary celebrations, Birch’s bubble will roll into Wykeham Abbey, Wykeham Estate, near Scarborough, tomorrow, at 7.30pm; The Moors National Park Centre, Danby near Whitby, Thursday, 7.30pm; Sneaton Castle, Whitby, Friday, 3pm, 7.30pm; Kirkleatham Hall, Redcar, Saturday, 3pm, 7.30pm; The Moors National Park Centre, Danby near Whitby, August 5, 9 and 10, 7.30pm; Rievaulx Terrace, near Helmsley, August 8 and 12, 7.30pm; The Show Field, Kildale, near Stokesley, August 11, 3pm and 7.30pm.
“It’s been a long time coming, because I’ve been fascinated by the prospect of taking dance to unusual outdoor locations as I’ve always loved open-air theatre and music shows, and I thought, ‘Could we do the same with dance?’,” says Simon.
“Then I found a company called JBL Leisure in Scarborough, who do lots of inflatable things and a range of snow globes that has been used in films and shopping centres, so the company managing director, Alistair Heelas has designed one specially for us and subsidised its manufacture.
“What’s really interesting for us is that the globe means I can place dancers in different locations so that they can have a different relationship with each landscape.”
As chance would have it, the North York Moors National Park learned of Simon’s project and approached him at a time when he was looking for partners. “Terrarium is mainly funded by Arts Council England and supported by Yorkshire Dance, and the backing of the National Park has come in the form of providing the locations,” says Simon, who is working in tandem with producer and project manager Sarah Shead, from Leeds company Spin Arts Management.
Simon’s choreography is inspired by the beauty and wildness of the moors and coast and the changes that take place with the passing time and seasons.
“We visited Sutton Bank, journeyed down the River Esk as far as we could and did a road trip to Hummersea on the North East coast, where the sound of the sea at the beach is amazing,” he says.
“We’ve also been to Danby, Rievaulx Terrace, Roseberry Topping and Staithes, recording lots of different parts of the moors, gathering information and responding to that.”
Simon was interested in the idea of the landscape being a body, especially when he found that that North York Moors had a Jurassic seabed. “That means the landscapes are constantly shifting, and with the constant erosion, the sea is eating the land,” he says.
Becs Andrews has designed costumes that convey the seasons’ progress from autumn to summer, in the absence of scenery in the bubble, while composer Jon Hughes has created a musical soundtrack that will be played through an ambisonic surround-sound system designed to give the listener an almost 3D sound experience.
His music incorporates the recordings he made around the National Park, including sounds from under the surface of the River Esk, recorded using underwater microphones.
The upcoming shows will be divided between the regular male-female combination of Riccardo Meneghina and Debbi Purtill and the new male duo Daniel Connor and James Southward.
“Undoubtedly, the two couples are different and I’ve adapted the choreography to suit each partnership, though I wouldn’t want to describe what the difference is. That’s a really hard question to answer!”
The choreography incorporates the bubble inflating and deflating. “And don’t worry, it has a constant supply of air for the dancers, so they won’t suffocate in there,” assures Simon.
Box office: 0113 243 8765 or yorkshiredance.com
You can follow Simon Birch’s blog, in which he and his collaborators write about the creative process behind Terrarium – Dance In A Bubble at: terrariumblog2.tumblr.com/