THE TURTLE DOVE STORY
“It seems that people are finding their own ways to relate to the work, I think it is very easy to see yourself in the ‘voices’ of the show as the stories, although personal, are also very universal”.
What was the ideas behind the making of Turtle Dove?
The idea for the work probably stemmed back to my time at university. I liked to make work that was about people’s unique stories and about their journeys through life. Whilst I was studying I made a work that was loosely based on my grandparents and these themes then later came back into my thinking for Turtle Dove. My grandad came to live with my parents for a year after my nan had passed away. He was an amazing story teller and a lot of his stories spoke about my nan. Listening to my grandad I knew that I’d like to use his stories somehow in my dance work. I also wanted to make a work that was relatable, something that all audiences could understand so I went about interviewing lots of different people all over the country to discover their stories and anecdotes of love. These interviews formed the basis of the whole work. I have been making this work for 2 years now. In late 2017 I began the Research and Development (R&D) to create a 20 min pilot work, and in 2019 I began working on extending the work into a full length work which is now the work which is on tour.
Can you tell us more about the artistic collaborations in the making of the work?
My most significant collaboration was with my dancer Joe. The work is a duet, where I am one of the dancers so I needed a partner I could bounce ideas off and Joe is this person! This year I’ve also been lucky enough to have 4 wonderful ‘research dancers’ these dancers were – Amy Lyster, Abi Mortimer, Conor Fortune and KJ Mortimer which meant that I was able to step out and choreograph on each of these dancers and Joe and later learn the material that we all made together. It was also really lovely to have a variety of body’s in the space from which to gain a wealth of movement vocabulary.
Turtle Dove is really dependent on the soundscore, we wanted to frame the stories with sound in a really unique way. Dougie Evans joined us in the studio to create a soundscore that wove together voices and sound into a beautiful tapestry of sound.
We were also joined by dramaturge Nick Walker. Nick came in at the beginning of the process to look at the ideas I had and where we should start. In R&D we had only worked with recorded text within the soundscore, but Joe and I had never spoken any text ourselves in Turtle Dove. We wanted to find a way that wasn’t about us ‘learning lines’, we didn’t want to ‘act’ anyone’s stories. Nick gave us a task of putting headphones in and saying what we heard, watching Joe and Nick speak these people’s words I knew that this was the way to embody voices without ‘pretending’ to be them.
Vanessa Brooker came in during our production days to create the lighting design for Turtle Dove. Vanessa did an amazing job of creating different ‘spaces’ for each section of the work, so that different stories ‘lived in’ different environments.
‘Critical friends’ are so important when you are making work, especially when you yourself are one of the dancers. This year we had a lot of feedback from the Lîla team Lou Rogers, Carrie Whitaker and Abi Mortimer who guided me in this process and helped me to realise my vision. We also had mentors Luke Brown, Vicki Hargreaves, Jane White, Jenna Hubbard in the space as well as having sharing’s at the end of each creation week which helped us to respond to a variety of feedback from other dance makers, producers, performers, teachers. Every bit of feedback was so important to the development of the work, it was great to get such a diverse range of opinions and take what I thought was really going to grow Turtle Dove.
What is it like to dance in Turtle Dove?
Being a dancer within my own work has its challenges. I find it really hard to direct myself which is why it was so important to work in such a collaborative way. However, it is also a really amazing experience to dance in my first work and dancing alongside Joe has been inspiring and a lot of fun! Dancing to the interviewee’s voices is such a privilege, I feel humbled to have been gifted these stories and it was so important to me to be sensitive to the person speaking and to honour their truths with authenticity. Many of the interviewees have come to see the show and it was so exciting to perform the work for them and for them to see how their stories were reimagined inside my work.
What has been the audience's response?
We are coming to the end of our autumn tour with our last venue – Brockhill Performing Arts College, Hythe on Saturday 9th November 2019. We have had such a lovely response from audiences we have taken the work to so far and it has been lovely to talk to audiences that have “hung back” after the show to talk about their experience. It seems that people are finding their own ways to relate to the work, I think it is very easy to see yourself in the ‘voices’ of the show as the stories, although personal, are also very universal. It is wonderful to me that people have been so moved by the work, I hoped that audiences could recognise resemblances within their own lives, and I it means a lot to me that they do.