Emergence – Projected Backdrops for English National Ballet

On Saturday 16th March 2024 English National Ballet’s new Dance for Parkinson’s Performance Company took part in Re-Play, the annual showcase of live dance, music and film celebrating the theme of “Emergence” in the Holloway Production Studio at the Mulryan Centre for Dance.

As an artist, I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to create three, atmospheric, semi-abstract pieces of art to be used as backgrounds for a new dance piece created for Dance for Parkinson’s new performance group – of which I’m also a member. We worked with the theme “Emergence” guided and accompanied by our truly wonderful team of talented and committed dancers, musicians and volunteers.

What I’ve tried to show is the way in which the dancers have come to work together, to become a company. We refer to ourselves jokingly as “comrades”, or the “squad”!

For the first image, I was inspired by the words of Nina Simone’s song, Feeling Good including the lyrics “Blossom on a tree, you know how I feel” and refrain, “It’s a new day”. This became very important for me, but a new dawn means different things to different people. Does anyone ever know how others feel? The choreography involves many different stretching moves, branching out, waking up, and, like the blossom, slowly unfolding.

The image for the second sequence compliments the welling-up of the sound, and a gathering of energy. A stylised plant form gives a sense of scale to a murmuration or shoal of small marks which echo the movements of the dancers at different parts of the dance piece. I tried to respond to the duality of the choreography: a couple of dancers break away to perform a duet, soon to be joined by another couple. They intertwine with each other, until they are joined by the rest of the company. On the shout of the word ‘emergence!’, the group freezes before running to the back of the stage. The colours I use are linked to the sound, becoming more saturated. Among the green are hints of yellow, referring back to the first image, while the blue looks forward to the final sequence…

We now see the dancers regrouping, striding forward, leaving the previous scene behind. This last image is the most abstract. The only concrete motif is the monogram, formed from the initial letters of the names of the individuals involved in the collaboration. The dancers group and gather again, this time with a sense of knowing, and mutual understanding. Subtly sprinkled with colour from previous scenes, this image is light, soul-filled, airy, fluid, optimistic and forward-moving, full of rhythmic energy. We emerge as individuals within a strong group.