Esther Linley - When We Were Birds

When We Were Birds

Another performance at the Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo, When We Were Birds, was created by the course convenor on my MA, Anna Furse, and Esther Linley. Video was by Lucy Cash, sound by Graeme Miller, and their producer is Paula Van Hagen. It was a work in progress showing rather than a completed performance, which is an ongoing exploration related to neuroscientific interdisciplinary research.

Anna Furse and Esther Linley, When We Were Birds

The performance is very well-grounded in research into psychosomatic memory, and was developed from the two performers' shared history in ballet training. It traces their history in relation to world events of the late sixties and seventies, as their paths diverged and re-converged.

When We Were Birds

The pair are seated behind a long table for the duration of the performance, which is set up with lights suggesting a dressing room. They begin by applying heavy royal opera house style makeup, which they are still working on as the audience enter.

When We Were Birds

The spoken text in the performance is prerecorded, while the live performers interact only inaudibly. They go through a routine of preparation for dance, including putting on point shoes with their different methods. This all relates to the video and audio material being presented synchronously - there are some lovely music choices, including Beatles numbers that seem to comment perfectly on the content.

When We Were Birds

The topic is clearly well-researched and is extremely resonant given the performers' backgrounds - but avoids being too academic or sentimental thanks to their sense of humour and openness.

When We Were Birds

This was the final performance of the Goldsmiths mini-festival at the Cantieri, which seems to have been a great success - hopefully the college will be able to have more of a permanent place there in future.

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