Improvisation on SOFT BEACH @ Hackney Marshes, London
with Anastasia Freygang


Swimming was forbidden
There was no frogs
Anastasia wanted her bow tied, then she gifted her vibe to everything :)
I did a little dance prayer for the MArshes
(also the nettle diet last week helped the hair growth tremendously)
Usually, i let things arise - through me, this time on SOFT BEACH (where we performed) it was the missing frogs, weeping willow, Marsh nymphs longing to swim & live saving guards.

The Voice of the World speaking back.
by Tim Russel

It’s a hot bank holiday afternoon and further up river it’s party time, but here is soon to unfold a Theatre of the imagination….I’ve left the event to sit in me for a few days before I try to articulate anything.

One of the performers ties a colourful scarf around the neck of the other, who then bursts into exuberant dance; when the sound track switches to Message in a bottle by the Police my attention is immediately caught. Recalling the plastic coke bottle  I just saw drifting downstream I’m put on alert that there’s a greater message here than may at first be apparent.  What at first sight appears to be a display of female presence and affirmation soon reveals itself to be far more.

The other performer/dancer unfolds herself from her position on the ground, she is stripped to the waist and presents another  powerful image of presence. Soon they’re crawling across the opening one behind the other, one trailing a ribbon that appears to be tied around her neck and I can’t help asking what bondage she is tied to.  She embraces a tree, a willow that stands at an angle that offers a visual counterpoint to the stance of her body; as she tenderly wraps it in her arms she rest her head against the rough bark and tastes it with her tongue. Soon she’s moving again across the clearing making full use of both space and changing light that illuminates her body as she moves and dances.  She moves and dances but to no music but her own and then she’s on her knees and a sound erupts from somewhere in her belly. Part howl,  part affirmation of presence; I’m left wondering whose ? Anna’s ? Or  something else?  From here on the  whole dynamic of the piece changes, there is less performer, more of something performing itself.  

Then she’s on her back playing with various objects like magical fetishes …. Is it hair, horse hair? When she’s back on her feet again she moves in glorious display of motion and light that could never be choreographed by human design or intention. 

She returns to the willow and gently caresses a string of suspended bells with her back. The ringing bells recall for me the old story of King Arthur asleep in his subterranean great hall, awaiting the sounding of a bell to awaken him from his slumber to come to the lands aid. In the story he is awoken by the clumsy blundering of a thief who seeks only riches… “Is it time ?” he asks, “Not yet, not yet..” he is told. But now, here, the answer cannot be the same. The answer surely  a resounding “Yes, it is time … awaken !”

She returns across the glade and from somewhere she draws out a line of green inflatable cylinders and approaches the water, wades out into the flow and out her depth becomes submerged before being surrounded by the inflatables  and makes her way back to shore.

It may seem unreasonable of me to include another image seen prior to the performance itself; that of a moorhen towing  an outsize flowering branch held in its beak across the water; my eyes have become attuned to such things and they speak to me of what I’m about to witness. One of the criticisms often aimed at live art is that it can easily collapse into a cry for attention, but here we have just witnessed a powerful call not for attention but for attendance. Attendance on what is most precious to us ..this beautiful flowering world we live in. As I leave I know I have just heard the world speak back.

Michael Sakamoto suggests “The philosophy of animism in butoh allows the dancers to express the spirits of both animate and inanimate beings (such as animals, deities, plants, minerals, and natural elements).” To this I would add the spirit of place, genius loci. The dancer must allow themselves to be hollowed out. This stands as a challenge to many contemporary notions of art and inspiration where the artist tends to the notion that the inspiration that guides them is theirs; what if they are the ones being dreamt?