During Christmas 2012 I had the idea for a piece, inspired by listening to a lot of Celtic music and coming across lots of visual inspiration. I began to research Celtic tales, folk tales and fairy tales and started talking with a writer about creating a story for dance. The developments since then spiralled into talks with a musician, researching space, playing with movement, and developing design ideas. I had a really strong vision and needed the time and resources to work with a variety of people in order to see if this idea could become a reality.
In December 2013 I received funding from Arts Council England, Creative Darlington and Tees Valley Dance to carry out some research and development towards a site responsive piece for families and young people set at Christmas. The experience was exactly what I needed in order to experiment with my ideas and vision. The opportunity to work with 3 dancers and the complementary elements we needed, such as music and space, are as highly important as the choreography for this piece.
This brought with it very new challenges and experiences for me, working with a live musician and a dramaturg, creating a piece for an unusual outdoor setting, pulling everything together making sure all aspects complement one another. This, as well as focusing on the integrity of the movement and making sure it wasn’t getting lost amongst everything else!
Placing everything in an unusual setting was so exciting, I chose Darlington Cattle market for its amazing character, scope for promenade, and its semi rural quasi-theatre feel. Working in this non-traditional space really helped create the atmosphere I wanted.
Both the music and the dramaturgy brought the choreography to life exactly how I had hoped, really bringing out the story, making me ask myself questions about the piece and make slight alterations that enhanced its readability. The children at the partner school added mischief and imagination. All of these factors helped the shaping of the piece and made it work.
Working with a producer has enabled me to share the workload of managing the project and helping to make space for the creative team to focus on creating the work. I have particularly found the advice given and continuous support invaluable.
I have been working individually on this piece for a long time, but the amount that we achieved in just two weeks working with a great team was outstanding and it fills me with confidence that the vision worked, that all the additional elements complement each other and that I can create a really enchanting, engaging piece of new dance theatre. Working on this piece has provided me with new experiences, challenges and development as a choreographer, director and manager and with what I have in mind for the next stage, will hopefully continue to do so.
Now I just need to come up with the title!
Debbie is a dancer and choreographer who runs her own company The D Project and works with professional and non-professional dancers. She is based in Darlington.
Booking the show: A version of the show of around 20 minutes suitable for found spaces is available to book. Debbie is also seeking interest from people who would like to see the fully developed show of 45-50 minutes in duration.
Team: Creative Director and Choreographer Debbie Waistell – Dancers Lissie Connor, Lauren Rafferty, Michaela Wate – Musicians Mike McGrother and Joe – Dramaturg Bernie C Byrnes – Writers Laura Degnan and Carmen Thompson – Photographer Scott Akoz
All photos on this page by Scott Akoz.