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.
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/
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
… 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
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).
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