In May 2018 Paul Hughes, Hamish MacPherson and I had an artistic residency at S’ALA in Sassari, Italy. It was an open-ended residency and we wrote a response to our time there. It covers things to do with collaboration, power and when things don’t seem to be going right.
You can download the PDF at http://bit.ly/we-took-photographs
A performance installation by Natalia Barua, Katrina McPherson and Simon Ellis.
We took photographs; a lot of photographs. We wanted to know what we were seeing, and how we were seen in these images. We struggled with questions to do with intimacy and privilege, and how our bodies – and the images of our bodies – are implicated in the construction of meaning and culture.
The Work Room, Glasgow.
8 March 2018.
This work was initiated by Katrina for a project called Perceptions of Memory, and was developed with the support of Creative Scotland and The Work Room.
Some Things About Dance is a digital book. It is a collection of playful ideas or things about the art of dance. Each brief chapter is self-contained, and covers a range of topics to do with things like collaboration, creativity, communication and practice. The book is primarily written for people interested in dance as an art form – dancers, teachers, choreographers, audiences – but will also appeal to creatives and managers who are seeking surprising or alternative ways to be inspired or challenged.
The book is Pay What You Want, and 80% of any profits will be given to Chisenhale Dance Space in London. The remaining 20% will go to choreographer and artist Hamish MacPherson for his work on the book's illustrations.
Some Things About Dance
Text: Simon Ellis
Illustrations: Hamish MacPherson
Please note that I'm able to update the book at any time so if you do find any errors please let me know.
A choreography of words for ten people by Shannon Bott and Simon Ellis.
We started working together as dance-artists in 2003. The collaboration reflects our shared interest in exploring and understanding the psychological complexity of people, and we adopt flexible and responsive methods of creation to find ways to nourish the imaginations of our audiences.
– Shannon and Simon (November 2017)
We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die is in development after a residency at Centro per la Scena Contemporanea in Bassano del Grappa, Italy in 2015, at Tasdance in November 2017, and a period of practice in Melbourne from October to December 2017.
Images by Jayden Stevens.
Thanks to everyone in Melbourne for their feedback during the showings of the work; in particular to Meredith Rogers for stepping in to watch and respond during rehearsals, and to Bagryana Popov for her detailed, rich and challenging feedback via email.
A scratch performance by Shaun McLeod and Simon Ellis presented at the Dance and Somatic Practices Conference, 8 July 2017
Photos courtesy of Christian Kipp Photography.
We all have things or people in our lives that just shouldn't – or won't – be used for choreographic purposes. This is a set of stickers to mark those things or people. Just let me know your address and how many you'd like and I'll send them your way.
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.7"
Some other background is here: https://simonkellis.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/not-for-choreographic-purposes/
In 1997 film-maker Katrina McPherson tried to get a film commissioned about the largely overlooked work and life of dancer and choreographer Margaret Morris.
That film was never made.
Nearly twenty years later, Katrina was commissioned to respond to the Margaret Morris archive and invited three fellow dance film-makers to join her.
This film is what they made.
We Record Ourselves won the "MediaWall" competition for the Journal of Media Practice and MeCCSA Practice Network Annual Symposium. It was then re-edited for the 7m tall Bath Spa MediaWall and screened on 8 June 2017.
Natalia Barua, Owa Barua, Simon Ellis and Katrina McPherson.
single screen film (8 mins/stereo/2016) + 22 screen installation (5 mins/2016)
Commissioned by Horsecross Arts for Threshold artspace, and acquired for the Horsecross Arts collection of contemporary art. Premièred as part of Movement exhibition, 15 Oct 2016 – 15 Jan 2017 at Threshold artspace, Perth Concert Hall, Scotland. Movement: an homage to Margaret Morris in drama, dance, music and film; curated by Iliyana Nedkova and Wendy Timmons.
Supported by C-DaRE (Centre for Dance Research), Coventry University and Creative Scotland.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
Image of We Record Ourselves at Bath Spa MediaWall by Katrina McPherson
Colin says in this song we should talk about love and friendship and the things that bring us together and the obstacles that keep us apart.
The things that bring us together and the obstacles that keep us apart.
Simon says he feels like a really unusual newsreader and something is going on in the foreground.
And something is going on in the foreground.
(to the tune of 'The Cold Song' by Purcell, as sung by Klaus Nomi)
Our White Friend is a performance project by Colin, Simon and I. It premièred at Independent Dance London on 21 May 2016.
Tim Wise is an American authority on white racism. Through public lectures and books he educates white audiences to recognise and be responsible for their race-based privileges. We are interested in Wise’s craft in public speaking, his authority on race, and what might happen if we were to imagine that he is an artist. How might this proposition enable us to test the limits of Wise's practice as public speaker and white ambassador? Whose voices count in this debate, and whose faces are acceptable?
Choreography and Direction: Colin Poole
Performance: Simon Ellis
Guests: Paul Hughes, Hamish MacPherson, Josh Gill and Rob Vesty
Music: Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnston, Dorothy Love Coates, 2Pac, and Henry Purcell
Images: Stephen Wright Photography
women will always be blamed for everything is a 30 second film or vision that was created as part of Siobhan Davies and David Hinton’s project The Running Tongue.
Sadler's Wells Theatre , 7–12 Jun 2016
Concept: Simon Ellis
Animation: Magali Charrier
Sound: Chu-Li Shewring
Video and stills: Stacie Lee Bennett and Simon Ellis
Jealousy, Transmission and Recovery is an article for Performance Research that reflects on the performance project Recovery in relation to ephemerality, survival, and the nature and limits of performance and choreographic data.
Reference: Ellis, Simon. 2015. “Jealousy, Transmission and Recovery.” Performance Research 20 (6): 95–100.
I am watching Igor and Moreno disagree – maybe even bicker – as they struggle to sort out a particular transition in the work. They are tired, and each of them, at different times, wants something to happen at a different time and in a different way. — Simon Ellis
Attention, friendship and dramaturgy is reflection on the choreographic work that Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas make and do, and an effort to critique my role as dramaturg during the process of creating A Room for All Our Tomorrows.
It was presented at Leeds Beckett University on 17 October 2015 as part of their Thinking Dance symposium.
The full presentation (including videos) can be viewed at simonkellis.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/attention-friendship-and-dramaturgy/.
Writing, Video and Presentation: Simon Ellis
Conversations: Igor Urzelai, Moreno Solinas
Absence may hover over this piece, but it is coupled with the ever-present hum of life. At the end, we are guided up to where we began, but we are altered. — Gracia Haby
There are two women
Natalie and Shannon
There were others
They are gone
This is what remains
Recovery is dance, ceremony, gathering and living. It is about revelling in the time we have, and in finding a way to keep making things. It premièred at The Substation in Melbourne on Wednesday 3 December 2014.
Performance: Nat Cursio and Shannon Bott
Choreography and Direction: Nat Cursio, Shannon Bott & Simon Ellis
Sound: Byron Scullin
Light: Ben Cobham
Contributors to Research Phases: Pete Brundle, Ben Cisterne, Vanessa Chapple, Paula Levis, Fiona Bryant
External Site: natcursio.com/project/recovery
- Fjord Review – Gracia Haby
- Melbourne. Arts. Fashion – Nithya Iyer
- Watching Melbourne Dance – Laura Summers
- Dance Informa – Tamara Searle
- The Age – Jordan Beth Vincent
- Fiona Bryant
- Luke Hockley
Images by Rachel Roberts
Pause. Listen. is a dance by Chisato Ohno (dancer), Simon Ellis (choreographer), and Jackie Shemesh (designer). It is designed to adapt and change each time it is presented. Rather than being a single work it shifts and morphs. These changes are driven by the space where it is presented, and our evolving curiosities and inspirations as individuals and as a team.
With this in mind, we encourage audiences not to think of Pause. Listen. as having meanings to unlock. Instead, it is a dance and environment that allows people to simply notice things, or just tune into their own senses and thoughts.
Pause. Listen. was most recently presented in the Founders’ Studio at The Place, London in September 2014. Another initial version was also presented at the Centro per la Scena Contemporanea di Bassano del Grappa, Italy in the Garage Nardini space in October 2013.
Responses in writing
Images by Stacie Bennett and Simon Ellis
If it crosses the line, if it goes too far, then it should do because it’s only by going too far that we know what the limits are. -- William Drew
A Separation is a performance work by Colin, Simon and I. It was first presented at Lilian Baylis Studio, London, on Thursday 27 March 2014, as part of Eva Recacha's Wild Card evening. Most recently it was performed as part of the Open House Festival at Dance House Lemesos in Limassol, Cyprus (22 November 2014), and at Festival Hate Neimenster, Luxembourg (1 September 2016).
Previously we've explored violence, care and the things that draw us together and unite us. In this project we focused on what separation might be in collaboration.
We had a first development of A Separation at Choreodrome at The Place in the summer of 2013. We then continued working on the project at Trinity Laban, Roehampton Dance, and around cafes in London.
Performance and Choreography: Colin Poole and Simon Ellis
Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh
Research and Development blog: aseparationblog.wordpress.com
External Site: colinsimonandi.com/#/a-separation/
Images: Camilla Greenwell
A Separation was selected as a priority work for Aerowaves 2015.
The many many words of dancing.
This is an A2 sized poster, first released in 2014 and then updated in 2018.
Some other information: https://simonkellis.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/many-words-of-dancing/
It’s £15 + postage and packaging.
Dance With Myself is an attempt to draw together a number of diverse ideas about information, curation, friendship and identity, and to consider these in relation to experiences of dancing on and around screens. Much of the writing might be thought of as playfully experimental, and in it I reflect on what it is like to be a choreographer in this rapidly changing time, and how technology might be valued, abandoned, questioned and even used as a tool for listening. As a choreographic artist working amongst the eclecticism and noise of contemporary dance influences and practices, I propose that acts and experiences of solitude and silence might help us make sense of the complex choreography of our social and artistic lives.
This writing is based on a presentation at MIT in April 2011 as part of Dance Technology and Circulations of the Social, Version 2.0.
Reference: Ellis, S. (2013). 'Dancing with myself, oh oh oh'. Choreographic Practices 4(2): 245-263.
A project about mundane and extraordinary instances of old love, by Bagryana Popov, Shannon Bott and Simon Ellis. The two performers are moving in, out and around loving. They are twisted by it. Embraced by it. Concealed by it. Grappling with it. Living it. Untitled Project About Love is in progress.
Choreography and Direction: Bagryana Popov
Choreography and Performance: Shannon Bott and Simon Ellis
Images by: Cobie Orger
Because We Care is a performance project by Colin, Simon and I. It is about ways of relating: between men, and between audiences and performers. Because We Care premièred at The Place, London on 8 June 2013.
Performance and Choreography: Colin Poole and Simon Ellis
Costume: Theo Clinkard
Prop: Amy Watson
Choreographic Support: Chris Bannerman, Joanne 'Bob' Whalley, Lee Miller
Commission: The Place
Images: Benedict Johnson
What happens when you can’t do it? That’s where the dance is. What is revealed when you can’t do it? – Deborah Hay
Deborah Hay is one of the world’s most enigmatic and influential dance practitioners, and was a member of a group of experimental artists that was deeply influenced by Merce Cunningham and John Cage. The group, later known as the Judson Dance Theater, became one of the most radical and explosive 20th century art movements.
Deborah Hay’s Solo Performance Commissioning Project invites 20 movement artists to learn a new solo by Hay during a 10-day intensive in Findhorn, Scotland. The work involves practicing and ‘performing’ a set of complex and unanswerable questions or ‘tools for the dancer’ that are part of a highly developed structure. Each artist is also given license to adapt the work as Hay believes it needs the dancer’s “choreographic intervention” or “taste”. She asks, “Does your creativity exist without your intervention? Can it reveal itself to you if you stay out of the making?”
The 20 artists are then required to practice the solo every day for at least 12 weeks before premièring their individual adaptations of the project. The artists are also required to seek financial support in order to pay the commissioning fee, and are not allowed to pay for the commission themselves.
This is my adaptation of Deborah Hay’s I Think Not. I don’t think my creativity revealed itself to me without my intervention but, like many of Hay’s questions, perhaps it is simply asking the question that makes possible the smallest of changes in how we understand ourselves, others and the world in which we move.
Première: 24 February 2012, Roehampton Dance, London
Choreography: Deborah Hay
Performance, Adaptation & Script: Simon Ellis
Music: Igor Stravinsky
R&D Blog: spcp2011notes.wordpress.com
Images: Eulanda Shead Photography
Booth: A Dance Fair
by Simon Ellis, Amy Watson and Heather Caruso
Booth: A Dance Fair comprised six dance-related activities – Solo, Social, Photo, Video, Talk and Lecture – that provided audiences with opportunities to talk, think, listen, watch and dance.
Instructions for use:
1. Select a booth
2. Select a track/video/topic/song/choreographer
3. Start dancing/watching/listening/talking
Friday 25 November 2011
11am to 2.30pm
50 Finsbury Square
Booth: A Dance Fair contained work by a large number of artists that were collected by Simon Ellis, Amy Watson and Heather Caruso. It was presented as part of COMMA 40 from 19 to 27 November 2011
Images by Eulanda Shead Photography
A biography in pictures, an old piece of video, and Bach.
Music: J.S. Bach – Sonata No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005: III. Largo.
Edit: Simon Elis
… love, endings, and the lure of the screen
A dance for two people and a camera operator.
Desire Lines premièred as part of The Place Prize on 21 September 2010. The work was developed by Jackie Shemesh (light), Rhianne Benger (rehearsal/isadora), Marika Rizzi (performance), Tim Halliday (camera/video), Gail Hernandez Rosa (violin) and Simon Ellis (performance). Research, production and conceptual details are documented online at desirelines2010.wordpress.com. The original Place Prize entry video can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/9496275.
Concept and choreography: Simon Ellis
Performance: Marika Rizzi and Simon Ellis
Live camera, videography and edit: Tim Halliday
Design: Jackie Shemesh
Violin: Gail Hernandez Rosa
Isadora programming and operation: Rhianne Benger
Music: J.S. Bach, Violin Partita No. 2 In D Minor
Commission: The Place, London
Length: 20 minutes
Première: 11 September 2010, The Place, London
Images: Benedict Johnson
Leaving is a long duration performance presented in public spaces. It involves eight or more performers working in synchronised duets to explore the actions and images that underpin the everyday drama of leaving and being left behind. The performance is a subtle tweak to the dynamic of the location, and Leaving's incidental audience consists of travellers, passers-by and perhaps even families saying goodbye to loved ones.
I'm interested in the sense of isolation made possible by moments of leaving: the feeling of being in a crowd, but not part of it, as if a camera has zoomed in on the departure space shared by you and an other. What are the gestures of this space? How much do we have to do before our departures are lifted from the personal and into the public? What if we were to stop and notice these 'moments before' the ending, and shift the everyday into the extra-ordinary?
13 March 2011, Nottingham train station, as part of Dance4's Nottdance Festival on 13 March 2011. Performed by Stacey Lister, Rachel Johnson, Adam Davis, Moira Balmer, Dwayne Simms, Ash Brown, Bhavna Champaneri, Raska Radulovic, Radojka Radulovic and Simon Ellis.
23 – 24 April 2010, Kings Cross/St Pancras station, as part of St Pancras' Reveal Festival. Performed by Rhianne Benger, Soet Byol (Star) Cho, Gemma Donohue, Evangelia Kolyra, Kalia Maliali, Joice Marise, Maria Fernanda Toledo and Amy Watson.
Images by David Severn (Nottingham) and Simon Ellis (St Pancras)
All our will, our wishes, our hope cannot stop this.
Anamnesis is a screendance project by Cormac Lally (videography/editing), David Corbet (sound), Bagryana Popov (choreography, dramaturgy) and Simon Ellis (direction, performance). The film visits the volatility of memory within the mind of an elderly woman.
Anamnesis’ festival première was on 26 November 2009 in Lisbon Portugal at InShadow – International Festival of Video, Performance and Technology. It was awarded the School Jury prize for Best Film.
Previous screenings have occurred at Videodansa Barcelona International Prize in January 2011, dança em foco in Rio De Janeiro in December 2010, moves10 in Liverpool on 21 April 2010, in Puebla, Mexico as part of agite y sirva International Festival of Videodance (12 March 2010) and as part of InShadow's extension programme: Aveiro in Studio Performas (29 and 30 April 2010) and Setúbal Festival Sadinas Short Film (8 and 9 May 2010). Anamnesis had its US première at ADF Dancing for Camera in Durham North Carolina in June 2010.
An early edit of Anamnesis premièred at Horse Bazaar Melbourne on 27 January 2009, and a more completed version screened at the Journal of Media Practice Symposium in Brighton on 13 July 2009, and at Roehampton University in London on 26 November 2009.
Anamnesis was assisted by the Australian Government through Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory board.
Concept & Choreography: Simon Ellis
Performance: Liz Jones and Simon Ellis
Videography & Edit: Cormac Lally
Sound: David Corbet
Dramaturgy & Additional Voice: Bagryana Popov
Funding: Australia Council for the Arts
Length: 9 minutes
R&D Blog: anamnesis-film.tumblr.com
Images: Cobie Orger
He is resisting the subjective, presenting a fully wrapped package, a present, a small gift – ready to be sent. He is (he hopes) amongst friends, and wishes for nothing more than to be watched—and perhaps heard—directly.
This is not about him.
Down (working title) is a performed response to the Europe in Motion dialogues in Utrecht Netherlands, as part of Springdance 2009.
The project premièred at Theater Kikker, Utrecht on 22 April 2009.
Images by Gabi Reuter and Efrosini Protopapa
A dance film by Simon Ellis & Tim Halliday
One man’s obsession with solitude, dance and digital memory.
Music: “Red Right Hand”
Written by Cave/Harvey/Wylder (Mute Music/Mushroom Music Publishing)
Length: 7.25min (+ credits)
Format: PAL, 16:9
Audio: Dolby stereo
• VeNe Associazione's SET me free, Venezia, Movimenti di Macchina, 12 March 2017
• Loikka Festival, Helsinki Finland, 25 – 27 March 2010
• dança em foco – Festival Internacional de Vídeo & Dança, Brasil, August – September 2009
• ADF Dancing for Camera, Durham, North Carolina, 10 – 12 July 2009
• DANCE:FILM Scotland, Edinburgh, 21 – 30 May 2009
• The Fishmarket, Northampton, 21 May 2009
• Screendance at The Park Gallery in Falkirk, Scotland 25 April–9 May 2009
• moves 09 in Manchester, UK on 26 April 2009
• The Picturedrome in Northampton, UK on 25 March 2009 (13:00), including post film discussion
• Horse Bazaar in Melbourne on 27 January 2009
• Official selection at The International Video Dance Festival of Le Breuil in France, 14 March, 2009
• Montage Video Dance Festival as part of the FNB Dance Umbrella Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, 6 March, 2009
• Selected for presentation at Dance and Media Japan in Yokohama Japan, 7 February, 2009
• Premiere at Videodansa (for The Barcelona Prize) in Barcelona, 8–11 January, 2009
Images: screenshots from Tuesday
simple, imaginative and very bold – The Guardian
A performed conversation through time.
Gertrud is a solo performance project. It is an imagined and performed conversation through time between the Austrian expressionist choreographer Gertrud Bodenwieser (1890–1959) and Simon Ellis (1968–): a solo performer-choreographer.
Gertrud was performed in early February 2010 at The Patrick Centre in Birmingham as part of British Dance Edition. It was one of five finalists for the The Place Prize 2008 sponsored by Bloomberg, and premièred at The Place in September 2008.
Performance, choreography, script & sound: Simon Ellis
Light: Helen Cain
Choreographic Assistant: Amy Howard
Music: Rachmaninov, Elegie in E Flat Minor Op. 3, No. 1
Voice: English spoken by Shona Dunlop-MacTavish
Voice: German translated from English and spoken by Susie Bittner
Images: Benedict Johnson, Simon Ellis
This is a video archive of the Flash animation. The original web materials are presented below.
The Timed Body was originally developed for 'The Body and Performance' working group at TaPRA 2007 in Birmingham. It was then adapted and redeveloped as a Flash-based interactive for Extensions Journal and published in June 08.
Performance: Paea Leach
Flash coding: Simon Ellis
In The Timed Body I sidestep the spatialised (mapped) body in which humans act as containers for memory, and instead offer a consideration and performed articulation of a temporality of remembering. Although memory is conventionally linked with time, for Henri Bergson, time “is the spatialized, measurable counterpart of space, the other of space” (Grosz, 2004 p.279) that is already marked by the penetration of space. In Bergson’s efforts to distil or untangle time and space he proposes ‘the data of consciousness’ as being temporal, in other words duration. Duration incorporates, by definition, newness and creativity and it is where/when “our memories are forged” (Cariou, 1999 p.102).
The central component of The Timed Body is a curated sampling of the performance, web and video project, Four Act of Violence Leading Up to Now (Ellis, Corbet, & Leach, 2006). The project, which premiered at Dancehouse in Melbourne in September 2006, considers personal and glancing perspectives on the microtraumatic impacts of time.
This account of Four Acts in The Timed Body involves presenting animated, aural and videographic components of the project, whilst talking to conceptual concerns for Bergson’s dureè. The dialogue between the audiovisual and the conceptual is in turn framed by a virtual conversation between the performer, Paea Leach, and me in which she articulates her experiences of memory in the development and embodiment of Four Acts.
In generating and presenting this account my goals were threefold: (i) to extend the mnemonic resonances of Four Acts beyond its web and performative modalities; (ii) to explore Bergson’s contribution to thinking about time in relation to newness in memory; (iii) to allow the performative hand/writing, words and moving images of performer Paea Leach to temporally mark the account.
Through Leach’s consideration of her embodiment of Four Acts (itself a repository for her actual and fictional experiences), we become witnesses to the pleasure and spark of the tacit: a poetics of dureè in which memory ceases to be consumed via a “rearrangement of the pre-existing” (Mullarkey, 1999 p.9) or a clinging to nostalgia, and instead assures novelty.
Cariou, M. (1999). Bergson: The Keyboards of Forgetting. In J. Mullarkey (Ed.), The New Bergson (pp. 99-117). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Ellis, S., Corbet, D., & Leach, P. (Artist). (2006). Four Acts of Violence Leading Up to Now [Dance and video performance].
Grosz, E. (2004). The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution and the Untimely. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
then/now is a one minute dance film.
It was originally developed for ReelDance One Minute Reels in July 2007 using two imposed constraints: no edits, and 1 minute or less in duration (excluding credits).
The project was seeded from the solo performance project, Four Acts of Violence Leading Up to Now, featuring performer Paea Leach, and premièred at Electrofringe 2007 in Newcastle, Australia on 28 September 2007.
Other screenings include: Where's the Choreography?, Yorkshire Dance, December 2011; Cinedans in the Netherlands, December 2011; Dutch Dance Days (Nederlandse Dansdagen), December 2011; Teatro Puccini in Bari, Italy on 26 September 2009; an installation (on loop) at The Beetroot Tree Gallery in Derbyshire UK in November 2009 as a Choreographic Lab event; Performance Space (Carriageworks) (Sydney) as part of the One Min Reels Cinemoves programme which also toured to Perth, Darwin, Hobart and Country South Australia; The Picturedrome, Northampton, UK; as part of Video Dance Italy 08 (5 December 2008) curated by Gitta Wigro) in Bassano del Grappa, Ferrara, Ravenna & Civitanova Marché; at the Basel International Film Festival for Dance and Performance in Switzerland (19 September 2008); EDIT2008 4th International Dance Film Festival, Budapest (October 16-19, 2008); ADF's Dancing for the Camera: International Festival of Film and Video Dance at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina (July 11-13, 2008); After Urban - Video Art & Architecture events in Baia Mare, Romania (November 16-17, 2007), Brooklyn, New York (December 7-23, 2007); and at moves08 in Manchester UK (22-26 April 2008).
Performance: Paea Leach.
Production & post-production: Simon Ellis.
Image: Guy Willoughbuy
Micro50 video is two seconds/50 frames in length. A collection of moments and distilled events. The slights of mediated performance; cut, cared for, reframed, de/interlaced, contracted. An invitation to revel in brevity and concision, to view, review and repeat. To play and replay. These brief choreographic encounters with mediated performance represent a desire to posit and foreground stillness within the dancing/moving image; to innervate and remap the durational experience of witnessing choreography for screen. To sensitise one’s experience of mediated performance time in two brief (repeatable) seconds. The videos incite a perceptual hiccough or blip, a durational composite of performativity, set amidst the confines of a microscreen.
See the videos: skellis.info/micro50
Micro50s initiated by David Corbet and Simon Ellis, July 2006. The early experiments were seeded as part of an R&D residency at PICA with dance artist Paea Leach.
This is an archive of a Flash-based project built by David Corbet in 2006. The site was an open gallery designed for people to upload their own set of images that were then automatically converted into digital flickbooks. The flickbooks were animated by the user scrubbing across the video with the cursor.
A small collection of recorded videos of the flash animations can be seen here:
This site is designed to preserve dad.project during and following the prolonged and painful death of Adobe Flash. Perhaps one day David and I might have a go at rebuilding the site using HTML5.
Background (written in July 2006)
My early objective for dad.project (digital-analogue-digital) was to analogue-ize digital video footage of movement performers in order to generate hard copy and Flash-based flickbooks. However, my interest in developing hard copy versions of the animations was shifted in early 2005 when David Corbet expressed an interest in being involved in the project. David brought heaps of coding experience to the project, and was interested in having the animations load dynamically and, furtherstill, to consider opening up the project to web-based participants – capable of submitting their own images and contributing to the archive: a dynamic animated document of dance/movement actions around the world.
In July 2006, whilst participating in an R&D residency at PICA with movement artist Paea Leach, David and I completed the dynamic part of the project and made it "live".
dad.project reflects my ongoing interest in performativity away (or distinct) from liveness, and part of its role is to subtly undermine the deeply embedded hierarchy in which the “live” body is considered to be the acme of performance practice. In this case, the role of the viewer in reading (or rendering) the action “meaningful” is foregrounded – without him/her the animation neither loads nor is experienced (brought to life).
In the latter part of the residency at PICA, David, Paea and I started trialing two second “micro50s” (initially called “flips”): 50 frames of (mostly) non-linear images recorded on video and then developed as stand alone films. Although distinct from dad.project, these “micro50” films exist in similar terrain in their capacity to highlight the (fleeting) temporal experience of viewing digital moving/still image, and in distilling the viewing experience to a very “located” and detailed time-space. In addition, both modalities – digital flickbooks and 50 frame films – seemingly invite repetitive and/or prolonged viewing.
"... we must enter into the thickness of a duration where our memories are forged..." – Marie Cariou
Inhabiting both web and performed worlds, Four Acts of Violence Leading Up to Now offers partial, personal and glancing perspectives on the microtraumatic impacts of time.
Performed materials/outcomes: Melbourne, Australia @ Dancehouse (21-24 September 2006), Perth, Australia @ BreadBox Gallery (24-31 October 2006), Northampton, UK @ Isham Studios (1 July 2007)
Devised by Simon Ellis, David Corbet and Paea Leach, with costume by Paula Levis and light by Richard Vabre.
Performed by Paea Leach.
I saw him the other day. He looked middle aged. A bit too much weight, not quite enough hair. Nowhere near as … tight. He kept mentioning the good old days, and I kept thinking to myself, “what is this – a Bruce Springsteen song?"
Performance: Shannon Bott and Natalie Cursio
Direction: Simon Ellis
Choreography: Shannon Bott, Natalie Cursio and Simon Ellis
Music: Cyndi Lauper
Original incarnation: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1987). Choreography and performance by Andrew Chapman and Simon Ellis, with smocks, wigs and padded bras. Created as a compulsory requirement in first year Physical Education at Otago University in New Zealand.
Tight is a choreographic response to an imposition.
When Natalie Cursio approached me about choreographing a new work to the first piece of music I ever choreographed to, I was excited by the idea, but concerned that the implications of integrating such a constraint might undermine my current choreographic practice. Broadly speaking this has involved exploring and developing improvisation strategies as a means of revealing or presenting psychological states – a long way from choreographing to Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. However, the distance was not as far as I had imagined, and what the project has done is offer an opportunity to revisit another time, both in terms of experience and choreographic strategies. The constraint was liberating.
Tight is a short work. It is choreographed directly to the audio, and is an attempt to capture the spirit and vigour of the song, utilising a simple (and clichéd) narrative device - that of two women (or one woman times two) looking back on an event in their late teenage years. Tight is not nostalgic. It is, however, glamorous, kinaesthetically dense, technically demanding, and mostly fun.
Fuck the art, let’s dance.
– Simon, 2 June 2005
21 June 2006, Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, Australia
He was good looking. Nice legs, strong chest. Taut. He was funny too. And reliable. I was 18. Ignorant with opinions. A lethal combination. He had a motorcycle. Not some shiny, noisy my-name-is-Tony type Suzuki, but a crappy old oh-so-cool 80cc Honda. Red. We'd go places. Hills, films, rugby. Once we went to the gallery and I remember him saying, "Fuck the art, let's dance."
Love in two parts
How close is too close?
A performance about intimacy and helplessness
Inert is a performance experience that delves into the psychology of love and loss when one is heard and seen—or not—by an intimate other. Small in scale, yet broad in its sensory scope, Inert offers a boutique performance experience immersing its audience in a subtle and extraordinarily intimate world.
The project involves two audience members who are positioned in the work on individual tilting platforms. Gradually shifting from near-vertical to hear-horizontal, these platforms provide a profound bodily experience of gravity that underpins the audiovisual and physical components.
In 2006, Inert was a finalist in the Australian Dance Awards “Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance” category, and received two Dance Magazine Critics Awards, "Best new work" (Herald Sun), and "Most outstanding choreography" (The Age).
Reviews of Inert @ Arts House (March 2009) have been published by Alison Croggon for Theatre Notes, Jordan Beth Vincent for The Age and Jana Perkovic for Real Time. Note that as of August 2018, these links are still live. Here are links to PDF archives (just in case):
Inert was originally developed and presented with the support of Arts Victoria, Dancehouse and the University of Northampton. The return season of Inert at Arts House as part of Dance Massive was supported by the City of Melbourne.
Choreography & performance: Simon Ellis and Shannon Bott
Video: Cormac Lally
Design: Scott Mitchell
Sound: David Corbet
Première: 10 May 2006, Dancehouse, Melbourne
Images: Natalie Cursio
1 September 2005 - opening night.
And do the things/Ah, do the things/That we like to do
Performance: Colette Arnold, Rosey Feltham, Georgie Goater, Desmond Gul, Annabel Harrison, Ambrose!, Monisha Kumar, Mandy Leckie, Xiaohui Lu, Lucy Miles, Shannon Mutu, Janine Parkes, Tracey Purcell, Emily Rose, Christina Solomona, Tupua Tigafua.
Choreography: Simon Ellis with the performers
Audio Samples: KC and the Sunshine Band ("Get Down Tonight"), Hans Zimmer ("Air", "Sit Back and Relax"), and Benjamin Bitten ("Libera Me")
Sound: Simon Ellis
Light: Brad Gledhill
Costume: Vicki Slow
Thanks: Chris Jannides and the Unitec PASA Staff, Chuck Jackson, Mark and Lucy Gibson, James Mellsop, Susan Peterson, Elaine and Rod Ellis-Pegler.
Choreographing work for dance students is a tricky prospect: I feel caught between wanting to explore specific ideas whilst at the same time ensuring that the dancers are given some physical and performative challenges. It is small tug of war between choreography and pedagogy. In "A Little Dance" the dancing is not so much an embodied and/or abstract expression of an idea, but simply another part of these young performers lives; dancing is the subject more than the medium . But it is the role of dancing in their lives that provoked memories of my beginnings as a dancer, in my late teens, studying Physical Education at Otago University. Dancing became another way of "feeling good", screeching into the air, throwing caution to the wind and beyond. I was confident, strong, and fearless, but also more than a little ignorant, and my unselfconscious yearning for pleasure has left a somewhat bitter aftertaste.
This work is for these 16 very special young men and women. They have embraced and smiled at my idiosyncrasies and fallibilities, and committed themselves to the (very short) process with enthusiasm, integrity, and strength. Thank you Colette, Rosey, Georgie, Des, Annabel, Ambrose, Monisha, Mandy, Xiaohui, Lucy, Shannon, Janine, Tracey, Emily, Christina and TJ - good luck to you all in carving out a place for yourselves as performance makers, dancers, artists, and people.
Indelible: A Hypermedia Remembering (2005) examines notions of memory, remembering and representation within a movement and performance research context. Its content, presented on a cross-platform DVD-ROM, is both poetic and scholarly and addresses various key issues of contemporary performance making: documentation, liveness, and practice-led methodologies. It is a reflective and painstakingly thorough response to the difficulties and possibilities of presenting and doing practice as research, and as such, is an invaluable resource for performance makers and artists working and researching within or alongside academic contexts.
Indelible can be downloaded for Mac and PC platforms:
– Mac OS X download (PPC only or Intel Macs running Rosetta on Leopard or Snow Leopard) http://bit.ly/indelible_dmg [dmg file, 2.34GB]. Please note that the Video and Writing components will work just fine on Intel Macs running Lion or Mountain Lion. Only the Interactive component will not work on recent (post July 2011) Macs. I am [no longer] working on a fix.
– Windows XP download: http://bit.ly/indelible_zip [zip file, 2GB]
Images: Heidi Romano
A small room. No doors. No light.
No shouting. No movement.
In your dream, I am breathing. And you are clenched in stillness.
In my dream you are crossing a river in a boat, and you wail, unable to move.
There is someone here, in your dream.
Footsteps. Perched on your chest. Suffocating.
And you are awake in your sleep, dreaming, and I am real.
You see with eyes shut, and what terrified you will terrify others.
Sleep. Wake. Dream.
Performed by Hornland Dance Theatre
Choreography: Simon Ellis
Sound: Jacqueline Grenfell
Première: August 2005
Sleep. Wake. Dream.is an exploration of the liminal space between being asleep and awake. It depicts a shadowed world in which we experience our minds as being awake, whilst our bodies are ‘left behind’ in sleep. It is not a narrative as such, but can be viewed as a collection of images and sounds involving gesture, abstract movements, video projection and voice, which collectively shape a kinaesthetic experience.
Jacqueline Grenfell and I visited Sibu and Hornland Dance Theatre on an Asialink Performing Arts Residency programme in November and December 2004. The experience was an extraordinary one in many respects – the hospitality, the food, the warmth and friendliness of the people of Sibu – but it was the experience of other languages that was for me, the most profound. Surrounded by Bahasa and various Chinese dialects, I was at once deeply immersed physically whilst being on the outside in terms of understanding these sounds. In many respects, if you were to imagine this experience (or remember it if you have travelled to Australasia or Europe), then it is from this strange (and sometimes frightening) place that Sleep. Wake. Dream. emerged.
She sat on the bank and drank oblivion of her former life.
Suppose that a young woman passing between life and death, in an imaginary liminal moment, is witness to the convergence of her memory and biography. We hear her blood, nerves and viscera stop, and in that space - between their suspension and her ending - her life is told by two friends.
Indelible is a collaborative performance and installation project that exists in two states: Evening performances incorporate movement, animation, sound and light, while the installation itself can be experienced as a trace of the performed work during daytime gallery hours.
Elizabeth Boyce (installation/environment)
Natalie Cursio (performance)
Suzannah Edwards (performance)
Simon Ellis (movement & concept)
Lydia Teychenne (sound)
Alycia Hevey (light)
Marion Jenkins (performance)
Kath Papas (production)
Tamara Saulwick (dramaturgy)
Thursday 30 Jan - Saturday 15 Feb 2003
Opening Thursday 30 Jan 2003, 6-8pm
Preview Saturday 1 Feb 2003 8pm
Tuesday 4 - Sunday 9 Feb 2003 8pm
Tuesday 11 - Saturday 15 Feb 2003 8pm
Tickets $20 & $15 ($10 preview)
Audience size strictly limited to 20 per performance.
Images: Heidi Romano
The development of Indelible was supported by a Choreographic Fellowship at The Australian Choreographic Centre in 2001 and 2002. It is presented through the West Space Projects Program with the assistance of Arts Victoria, Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and VCA Production.
She tried to hug me, I wasn't listening.
A movement and video performance developed by Simon Ellis and students of the Victorian College of the Arts, with sound by Jacqueline Grenfell, design by Adam Gardnir, and light by Luke Hails and Michael Jankie.
Lying première in November 2002 as part of the Victorian College of the Arts School of Dance's 'The Works' season at Gasworks Theatre in Melbourne. The programme also featured choreographies by Neil Adams, John Utans, Jane Mortiss and Jonathan Taylor.
Lying was developed collaboratively by the following artists:
James Antonio-Masefield, Bes Ayre, Emma Curtis, Jess Devereux, Louise Devlin, Anthea Doropoulos, Tony Nguyen, Nikki Palmer, Lou Rosekelly, Vanessa Scott, Kylie Skinner, Katie-Louise Thomas, Alta Truden, Susan Van Den Ham, Andrew Watson, Adam Wheeler, Robin Wyllie
Jacqueline Grenfell (sound)
Adam Gardnir (costume)
Michael Jankie & Luke Hails (light)
Simon Ellis (direction)
I entered the development and rehearsal period for 'Lying' focused on providing these emerging dance artists with an open-ended choreographic process. Rather than walking into the studio armed with an idea and a vocabulary of movement, I was particularly interested in finding out what the dancers were engaged in and by – both personally and kinaesthetically. The themes of this work – truth and intimacy – reflect the discussions and interactions the artists involved in the project have had since its beginnings almost 6 months ago.
I have sought to introduce what for many of the students is a new mode of making performance material, and also attempted to find ways to express ideas and thoughts to them about my decision making process.
'Lying' is a work containing material developed by the students using various choreographic and improvisatory tasks. It has been shaped by me as 'choreographer', and heavily influenced by the sound developed by Jacqueline Grenfell, but the ownership of the material remains with the students. The work is a reflection of their commitment to the choreographic process, and enthusiasm in taking on an enormously demanding temporal structure.
Images are screenshots of video material featuring Adam Wheeler and Emma Curtis
"With Full, independent dance choreographer Simon Ellis has crafted a minutely detailed and effectively flawless dance installation." – Ben Zipper (Stage Left)
Space is shrinking. Cities are packed. Airways are jammed with electronic transmissions, and cyberspace is home to more than 2 billion web pages. Full is an old woman with no space left to go.
"My name is Gladys Eastwood, and I am 87 years old. I have lived through two world wars, and one marriage. I miss my cat, and my husband was a Chartered accountant. I gave birth to three children, and we adopted another. I have seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. It is like my genes are running out. I am a painter, but my husband called it a hobby. Women inspire me ... Joan of Arc, Heloise, my grandmother, Helen of Troy, Wallis Simpson ... I no longer have a cat. I am not sure whether I am walking, or being pushed."
She sees him move; the length not of his body but of his years.
Full (2001) is a solo movement performance devised and performed by Simon Ellis, with light by Alycia Hevey, sound by Jacqueline Grenfell and photography by Elizabeth Boyce. Full is produced by Kath Papas.
Images: Elizabeth Boyce
Original installation and performances at Glass Street Gallery in North Melbourne. The season was sold out (including extra performances).
Performances as part of the Castlemaine State Festival in the Castlemaine Courthouse.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
A movement theatre work by Simon Ellis and first year students of the Victoria College of the Arts. Presented in June 2000 as part of the Victorian College of the Arts' Dancescape Season, Gasworks Theatre, Melbourne.
Aaron Mackay, Amba McKee, Ann McMaster, Asher Leslie, Brett Smith, Danielle Jansen, Danielle Lockhart, Eden Read, Eliza Hinwood, Emma Stuber, Inge Gnatt, Jacienta Hinton, Jenny Atwood, Joanne Jiang, Katherine Ford, Kelly Way, Lauree Gilbert, Lauren Sharp, Lee Serle, Michelle Bucci, Miriam Bond, Mischa Agzarian, Melisa Gowen, Rachael Jess, Rebekah Nelson
Simon Ellis and the performers
Simon Ellis with Matthew Gronow
Elizabeth Boyce, Jan McLean, Lina Limosani, Mark Best, Natasha Mann, Roger Alsop, Tony Smith
"Certainly, had we been told, when we were enjoying the care free life of Oxford in the summer term of 1914, that in a few weeks our little band of friends would abandon forever academic life and rush to take up arms, still more, that only a few were destined to survive a four years conflict, we should have thought such prophecies the ravings of a lunatic."
– Harold MacMillan "The Winds of Change"
Throughout the explorative process – from initial thoughts in January 1999 to the present – the underlying basis of undone years has been the notion of what it is to have one's world turned upside-down. Central to this exploration has been the contribution of the young artists who perform the work. Their enthusiasm and sheer determination to share the journey into an often dark world has been extraordinary. It is also an important coincidence that the performers are all about the same age as the people who chose to join the Great War – a choice that forever altered their understanding of the world and its people.
One such person was Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), a young man whose poetry and letters from the first world war have been a integral part of the development and performance of undone years. In particular, Owen's Strange Meeting has served as a continuous back drop for the work. Rehearsals have been centred around improvisational tasks based on a number of very broad ideas – fear, regret, preparing for death, following, and reticence. These ideas have, in time, been woven into a work that speaks physically to notions of loyalty, longing, nostalgia and death.
Simon Ellis, May 2000
Just as we are shaped and influenced by where we live, and what it is that we call ‘home’, Semi-detached (poss. 2nd bdrm) is the result of architectural and spatial constraints. The design and movement for this work were conceived and workshopped in a small two bedroom semi-detached house in Prahran, Melbourne. Two performers, both calling New Zealand ‘home’, and yet one absolutely familiar with the rehearsal space, the other completely unfamiliar, began to ask questions of what the space (and in essence ‘home’) meant to them as individuals and as a moving partnership. How does the familiarity and architecture of our home impact on our lives, and on the way in which we negotiate our relationships? Do homes possess memories? When we become attuned to our past and its ghosts, what possibilities are we afforded in the present?
Semi-detached (Poss. 2nd bdrm.) premièred 17 - 21 November 1999 as part of co.motion's Bloodwood season at Gasworks Theatre in Melbourne.
Development, choreography & performance
Kathleen Skipp & Simon Ellis
Design & photography
2B, Daniel Zika
Neil Young, Kristen Hersh, Dead Can Dance and Eric Serra
Photographs courtesy of Elizabeth Boyce.
The development and performance of Semi-detached (poss. 2nd bdrm) was assisted by Montastory, Hume Management, Gladys Eastwood and 2B.
Two people ... roam through a landscape that is at once real, a house that may or may not be familiar, and a place from another time, a memory recollected. Corners of rooms, window ledges echo another time which constantly intrudes into the present moment creating an uneasy emotional space through which the couple drift.
– Vicki Fairfax (The Age, Tuesday 23 November 1999)
Distance | Proximity | Voice | Movement
Design, choreography & performance
Slide Design & Projection
Touch premièred in August 1998 as part of Dance Compass Melbourne's True North season at Theatre Works in Melbourne.
Images courtesy of Elizabeth Boyce.
Simon Ellis, always pleasing in other choreographer's works was totally captivating in his own solo Touch, not least because his presence and fine articulation invites intimacy with the viewer. His material is deftly shaped, spare, and atmospheric, leaving one pondering intention and meaning, but tantalised to know more. Where (Anna) Smith creates exquisite movement and refined, multilayered images, Ellis opts for a 'less is more' approach. His lean musculature is curled, suspended at the end of a rope, or half raised on a small square of contoured landscape, where he stands rock still, barely illuminated or clearly washed by Gabby O'Connor's lustrous projections of fingerprints. Static, mysterious images - such as a head stand with legs apart, as if walking - become intensely poetic, amplified by Christine Sullivan's powerful vocal lines or intimate bursts of sound.
– Lee Christofis (Dance Magazine Feb/Mar 1999)
The maturity and psychological complexity of his solo imbue liquid with a very welcome intellectual depth. His deliberate movements hold a gentle sharpness enhanced by Gabby O'Connor's clean slide and projection design. Ellis dissolves in and out of geometric lights, sometimes dancing in darkness, moving through poses. Combined with Christine Sullivan's enveloping vocals, his material remains trancelike, never losing its intensity, even in moments of silence.
– Stephanie Glickman (Herald Sun November 21 1998)
The surprise of the evening is Simon Ellis's Touch. It is almost minimalist in the sparseness of the action, but the amalgam of carefully constructed movement cameos, music that shifts between barely audible murmurings and sonorous vocals, and a masterly use of simple slide projection technology, builds into a thoughtful essay on the nature of human touch. Ellis exploits his athletic capacity in a work of extraordinary gentleness.
– Hilary Crampton (The Age August 10 1998)