Memories of Skin
Choreographer: Greta Gauhe in collaboration with the dancers
Composer: Andy Trewren
Film: Emily Romain
Dancers: Hannah Adams, Flavien Cornilleau, Natalie Sloth Richter, Johanna Merceron
Tutors: Eva Recacha and Florence Peak, Tony Thatcher
Production support: Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Performance at the Bonnie Bird Theatre and Richmix, London.
Memories of Skin is a performance about touch and connection.
It explores how touch can be remembered and re-visited in the absence of the possibility of close physical contact and stems from a desire to touch and feel touched. Four performers explore memory, empathy and imagination to recreate touch-like sensations, to remember the value of touch and to connect to one another, yet in an imagined way.
Once entering please remain seated on your allocated beanbag:
You will find crumpled balls of paper-
You can see them,
The room is full of subtle sounds, you produce some of these.
There are blank pieces of paper around you. We invite you to share some of your memories by answering questions inside the paper-balls.
For more information about the research please click HERE.
Words by Katie Hagan
"I’ve been closely following the work of German dance artist and choreographer Greta Gauhe for just over a year now. I interviewed the UK-based dancer last year and around the same time I wrote about her work ‘NOWhere’ and ‘1 Click Away’ which debuted at Chisenhale Dance Space and The Place respectively, and featured Gauhe’s collaborators Hannah Adams and Flavien Cornilleau. Although I think it is important to take each work as its own and avoid assigning any arbitrary characteristics to what is an ever-changing body of dance, I can say I’ve noticed Greta creates immersive performances that flirt with audience participation; work that through this type of interaction brings us back to our childlike disposition to play.
Greta has said she works with dancers-cum-collaborators and encourages them to ‘deal’ with their own feelings during the making and performance processes. Depending on the socio-political context in which Greta’s work applies to, this fearlessness adds a deep honesty to the movement that is engendered – the dancers aren’t skating on the surface, they spill their souls onto the stage.
Greta’s latest work ‘Memories of Skin’ is no exception here. Exploring touch in the time of social distancing, ‘Memories of Skin’ is an eulogic lament of dance-making as we knew it before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the world.
As we enter the Laban Theatre, we each wait to be called in through the stage left door. We are led by a dancer through to a space similar to the room you’d watch a video in at a gallery; it feels like a secret, an underground zone away from the monotony outside. Pieces of paper rolled up as rocks have been ritualistically placed in a crescent, it’s the image of a pagan rite, an offering to us the new community.
We sit far apart on bean bags and are invited to harvest the rocks of paper and write our thoughts in response to the question written on the page: How did it feel to experience touch again after so long? Warm, relieving, unsettling I write, contemplating what’s passed. During a pandemic where entire populations are being told to ‘move’ in the same way within the confines of government guidance, the refreshing framework of ‘Memories of Skin’ enabled us to follow our individual creative impulses within this Covid-secure space.
As none of the four dancers – Hannah Adams, Flavien Cornilleau, Natalie Sloth Richter and Johanna Merceron – can touch, Andy Trewren’s soundscape adds sensuality and friction to the environment. Rough papers rub against each other, human fingers tickle the water, its laughter evident in the self-generating jacuzzi spools that bubble in my mind’s eye. The sound and projected screen which layers images of the human body, together with the dancers’ purple/nudey costumes, cleverly conjure a closeness which we can’t have outside of this performance space.
The audience sit enveloping the dancers who move into the half-lunar performance space and start to direct each other’s movement verbally. They feel the weight of one another’s bodies even though they are at a distance, navigating physical interaction through words that are spoken. The dancers turn and use this process on us.
My hand is drooping slightly over my left knee as I sit cross-legged, and the dancer says she is going to take it. She then experiments with what it would feel like to touch; the detail and attention here is so powerful I actually feel like a phantom is brushing against my twitchy fingers. I watched others at the same time, noticing that this sensory experience worked better when done in smaller iterations. Other more ambitious and forthright moves such as one dancer asking if they could rest their head in-between mine and my partner’s didn’t have the same uncanny and gentle effect as subtler interactions."
Read full Review here
Images by Dominic Farlam