We spent the week of June 30th at Pavilion Dance south West developing Distance Duet, a new work that seeks to transmute the raw material of text messages of a real couple in love into an imagined theatrical relationship.  Knowing nothing of the real couple but what could be found in their phones, we went into the studio to find out what metamorphosis could occur between the concrete and the imagined.

One of the research activities that we did was to analyse the messages of C and S, our couple for the week, according to the big five personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.  This helped us to build up a picture of the characters we were developing.  We worked out the physical expressions of each trait, developing a scale of 1-10 for each and placing C and S within this.  It was fun, and Ian’s physicalization of C as a real extrovert was especially comical next to Harriet’s depiction of S’s introversion.  We developed this into a duet where Harriet performs a series of meditative yoga balances while Ian tries to catch her attention, inching ever closer.


C Shall I head back and we’ll hang out ?

S If you like, I really can’t stray very far from laptop but tbh I’m quite happy sat watching tennis and reading. So if you want to entertain yourself do feel free?


Halfway through our development week Ian and Danielle came in to watch rehearsals and talk through some ideas. We decided to text each audience member some of the messages we’d been working with to create the work.  Each person would get to decide whether to follow S or C and would therefore only receive one side of the conversation.  To get the whole story they’d have to swap messages with their neighbour, subverting the usual anti-social behaviour associated with texting in public.


C How are you baby? S All good thanks, not as financially good as you but we are a team 🙂


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S Had a rush of affection for you earlier, which is nice 😉 C good to hear I can still stir the heart strings!


Dancers: Harriet Bone and Ian Parsons

Photos: Natasha Baines

Choreography: Jennifer Essex www.jenniferessex.com

Supported by: Arts Council England, Pavilion Dance and Dance City

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