SOMETHING ABOUT WILDERNESS and several attempts at taming beauty is a co-creation with Mélanie Demers commissioned by Skånes Dansteater (2017).
'It was with the idea of förgänglihet that we were invited to begin our reflection - this evocative Swedish word that eludes succinct translation into English and that expresses a notion of decay, of transience and of a sense of beauty to be found in the very process of decaying. The invitation was also for us to consider the idea of a garden as site for performance.
Soon, alongside conversations about what this garden could be, we contemplated the parallels one could draw between nature and movement: the garden being a domesticated form of nature and choreography being a domesticated expression of the elusive, unpredictable, inevitable move-ment of life.
Soon also we made plans for a creative process that would in itself be an exploration of impermanence. We set out on a choreographic relay where one of us picked things up where the other one had left off, handing over the baton to each other during a creative process where ideas and inspi-rations would be transformed, disrupted, interrupted, sublimed, corrupted, abandoned and lost in the exchange. And of course such a process is a meeting and a confrontation not only between us, but between us both and those performers of flesh and blood carrying with them past triumphs and traumas who, by simply and courageously being themselves, bring this work into being.
SOMETHING ABOUT WILDERNESS and several attempts at taming beauty speaks of the inevitability of time passing and of the inevitability of change. It speaks of a tug between the wild and the civilised. It reflects on the fact that we are domesticated animals, marked by our histories - recent and ancient - while, in the same breath, it goes in quest of wilderness, seeks to arc back to a time before our own, ponders over the idea of beauty, remembers the fleetingness of our own presence in the world and the lightness of our mark.'
- Mélanie Demers and Laïla Diallo
All images by Malin Arnesson
Something about Wilderness - Skånes Dansteater - trailer
In This Moment
I sat still until the stillness filled with movement.
I went in search of a furious dance.
I tried to weave past and future in the moment.
In This Moment emerged from Countless Yellow Chairs, a recent work performed with composer Jules Maxwell. Drawing on and transforming known materials, Diallo finds new threads and connections for this new solo work. Her exploration touches on notions of change, of memory, memories and the passing of time.
'... [The piece] resonates with a sense of presence and immediacy, of being in the here and now and experiencing something sublime but also connected to history, the past and how we can rethink our relationship to the world.' Alex Wren, Buzz Magazine
The work was last performed as part of Cardiff Dance Festival on 9th November 2017.
Image: still from video footage captured by Zoe Manders
In This Moment
Countless Yellow Chairs
‘At the heart of it are nine chairs. The two of us, and nine chairs. In turn, they, and we, are an aloneness, an embrace, a memory, an imprint, witnesses. They are bones, they are a forest, they are stacked, they are an aftermath, they are a ballroom, they are resting, they are one short, they hold our weight, they hold our wait. They are countless. And they are nine yellow chairs.’ - Laïla Diallo
Countless Yellow Chairs invites a contemplative gaze on an unfolding of events that speak of presence, of memory, of memories and of the passing of time. The objects take centre stage, firing our imaginations and bringing to light something of our own humanness.
Devised and performed by dance maker Laïla Diallo and theatre composer/songwriter Jules Maxwell, the two-hander follows on from a first collaboration between the two artists on Hold Everything Dear (2012).
"Gaping jaws and Jurassic spines, hilltop gallows and fallen battalions, caves opening from rocky crags, and transient, messy human tenderness in a clean, linear world. So many images suggested from nine yellow chairs.” - Katy Noakes, Restaged & OneDanceUK
Countless Yellow Chairs is supported using public funding by Arts Council England, co-commissioned by Theatre Bristol, Bath ICIA and Bristol Old Vic Ferment/Jerwood Charitable Foundation.
12 May 2016, Bath ICIA, Bath
28 July 2016, Bristol FERMENT, Bristol Old Vic
9 March 2017, Brewery Studio, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
10 March 2017, Gallery 1, Arnolfini
11 March 2017, Trinity Centre, Bristol
13 May 2017, Pavilion Dance South West Dance Summit, Lighthouse, Poole
Cardiff Dance Festival, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (time tbc)
Images by Laila Diallo, Arno, Jack Offord and Lucie Sheppard. All rights reserved.
Films by Zoe Manders and Lucie Sheppard.
Countless Yellow Chairs trailer
Countless Yellow Chairs - in the making
Edge and Shore
Edge and Shore is a durational work by visual artist Helen Carnac and dance artist Laïla Diallo and commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance. Emerging from a dialogue between the two artists about making and process, the work explores where the borders of their two creative practices meet and permeate, offering a contribution to thinking concerned with place, practice, making and moving.
30 & 31 August and 5 & 6 September 2014 The Goods Shed, Stroud
26 September 2014, Siobhan Davies Studios, London
27 September 2014, Quay2c, London
1 to 5 October 2014, Control Room, Redland Bridge, Bristol
30 January to 7 February 2015, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
8 to 12 July 2015, Arnolfini, Bristol
4 August 2016, The Whitechapel Gallery, London
Edge and Shore is commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Developed with support from Battersea Arts Centre, Bristol City Council, Bristol Old Vic Ferment, Quay2C and Stroud Valleys Artspace.
Image: Laïla Diallo
Films: Helen Carnac and Laïla Diallo
From black to white
Along the paper 22 May 2014
Control Room - Shadow
In 2014, Diallo was commissioned to create and perform a solo work, alongside dance artist Katye Coe, as part of WITHOUT MEASURE, a site specific dance project taking place at Slimbridge Wetland Centre under the direction of choreographer Alex Howard. The project celebrated the 50th anniversary of the start of Sir Peter Scott’s Bewick’s Swan Study in 1964, with at its heart the parallels between wildfowl migration and the movement of people. Diallo drew on thinking and materials gathered on regular visits to Slimbridge from Spring to Autumn 2014 for this commission. Through walking on site, writing, film and sound recording, she developed a response inviting a reflection on how we approach things and how we look at them, also exploring the idea of sanctuary.
Images by Laila Diallo
Through a frame
Through a lens
How does being watched alter what you do?
What if you don’t know you are being watched?
What if being watched is just the way it always is, nothing out of the ordinary?
Watching and being watched
Watching the bird watchers
The shared quietness
The quiet stillness
The common focus
Fingers poised on triggers
For a kingfisher
Hoping for the perfect shot
(Edited from notes made in Slimbridge on 24 March and April 30 2014)
Derived from the Latin sanctuarium,
Which is, like most words ending in –arium, a container for keeping something in.
This Wetland Centre is a place of sanctuary. I remember a conversation I had with Phil, one of the bird keepers. He was telling me how the birds gradually learn to feel safe. I have thought a lot about that… feeling safe. I thought a lot about it once, sitting on a bench on this site, at a point where paths crossed, on route to the Americas section. It was 21 July. The night before, in Gaza, bombs and shells had fallen at a rate of one every five seconds.
A sacred place
Where are today’s human sanctuaries?
In Syria, 9.3 millions people are displaced.
Through a special relocation programme for vulnerable refugees set up by David Cameron we welcomed 24 Syrian refugees to the UK recently.
Where are today’s human sanctuaries?
Pakistan is one.
There were 1.7 millions refugees there in 2012.
Half were children.
Something to keep them in.
Somewhere where they will learn to feel safe again.
Well, sitting on this bench, at a crossroads, on route to the Americas that 21 July, with a head full of the horrors of Gaza, I found relief and I found hope in the qualities of the place I was visiting.
It is a place of care and of repair.
If I have to choose to believe in something, then I choose to believe in caring and repairing.
(From notes taken on visits to Slimbridge Wetland Centre in June and July 2014)
Hold Everything Dear
‘Hold Everything Dear has at its heart ideas of migration and dislocation. It is an attempt to convey something about leaving, arriving, letting go, holding close, holding dear – an attempt to say something about being forever in transit or in a state of waiting. It was inspired by some refugee stories I came to hear, by my own privileged experience of travelling the world with ease while others are grounded for their lack of the right passport. I also wondered about this eternal quest for that place where the grass surely is greener.
I imagined a stage that could transform to become the end of pier for a moment, then something like a station, a void, home – a stage that might suggest all those places at once maybe, a space where solitudes would find a heightened resonance and where individuals, their stories and emotional worlds might collide expressively.
Among the many images, pieces of music, writing, conversations and objects that inspired us was John Berger’s Hold Everything Dear, a book that takes its title from a poem by Gareth Evans, written for Berger.’ - Laïla Diallo
‘Every day people follow signs pointing to some place which is not their home but a chosen destination. Road signs, airport embarkment signs, terminal signs. Some are making their journeys for pleasure, others for business, many out of loss or despair. On arrival they come to realise they are not in the place indicated by the signs they followed. Where they now find themselves has the correct latitude, longitude, local time, currency, yet it does not have the specific gravity of the destination they chose.’ - John Berger, Hold Everything Dear
Choreography: Laïla Diallo with the performers (including original cast members Gabi Froden and Grigory Tsyganov)
Performance: Seke Chimutengwende, Theo Clinkard, Laïla Diallo, Phil King, Helka Kaski, Jules Maxwell, Letty Mitchell and Semay Wu.
Original Music: Jules Maxwell
Lighting Design: Guy Hoare
Costume Design: Theo Clinkard
Dramaturgy: Chris Fogg
Production Manager: Chris Copland
Technician: David Tiernan
Management: Claire Morton and Joe Bates, Morton Bates Arts Services
“A poetic celebration of the human spirit” - Nicholas Minns, www.writingaboutdance.com
‘...a pensive, delicate assemblage of movement and music...wallow[ing] gracefully in a deftly conjured atmosphere.’ - The Times
Originally commissioned and produced by ROH2 at the Royal Opera House in March 2012. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Co-commissioned by ICIA University of Bath and Pavilion Dance South West. Additional support from Arnolfini and The Point, Eastleigh.
Co-production Le Phare, Centre Chorégraphique National du Havre/Haute Normandie (creation during residency period). Le Phare residency made possible thanks to support from DanSCe Dialogues 2 through Take Art. DanSCe Dialogues 2 was selected under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme INTERREG IV A France (Channel) - England, co-funded by the ERDF.
Images by Arno and Matthew Andrews
HOLD EVERYTHING DEAR - video teaser
Drawing from surrealist pictorial ideas and mythological suggestions of transformation and otherworldliness, this solo for Theo Clinkard, explores a territory where events, scale and time take incongruous, dreamlike qualities. At-any-moment-something-else premiered at Woking Dance Festival in March 2010.
Choreography: Laïla Diallo, in collaboration with Theo Clinkard
Performance: Theo Clinkard
Original Lighting: Sarah Gilmartin
Original Music and Sound Design: Phil King
Costume: Theo Clinkard and Laïla Diallo
Dramaturgy: Chris Fogg
Additional Music: Everytime we say goodbye, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarabande, Debussy
A Woking Dance Festival Commission, created with additional support from ROH2 at the Royal Opera House and Laban.
Duration: 20 minutes approx.
Images by Ludovic de Cognets
Imprint, a solo for Diallo, premiered in the summer of 2009. A simple and minimal set, a few objects, the performer’s lone presence provide both canvas and tools to explore physical ideas of accumulation, of tension and of release, bringing to bear a dance that expresses both resilience and fragility.
Choreography and performance: Laïla Diallo
Original Lighting Design: Sarah Gilmartin
Original Sound Design: Phil King
Created with support from Arnolfini and Swindon Dance.
Duration: 15 minutes approx.
‘One of the highlights of the festival was the premiere of Bristol based Laila Diallo’s new solo Imprint (…) a real joy to watch.’ - Erin Whitcroft, Ballet.co.uk
Image by Ludovic de Cognets
Sense of Self
Compelled by a shared aspiration to investigate some delicate questions linked to identity, Demers and Diallo joined forces to create this duet in 2007. Sense of Self unfolds as a fluid succession of physical tableaux offering as many perspectives on the multi-layered nature of identity. As skin is always renewing itself, is identity not also in a constant state of becoming?
Created during residencies in Kenya, Canada and the UK, Sense of Self (Sauver sa peau) premiered in Montréal in January 2008, before touring extensively in the UK and Canada, France and Italy.
Choreography and Performance: Mélanie Demers and Laïla Diallo
Original Lighting: David Perreault Ninacs
Original Music: Jacques Poulin-Denis
Texts: Mélanie Demers and Laïla Diallo
Artistic Advice: Boyzie Cekwana
Technical Manager: David Perreault Ninacs
Additional Music: Chopin
Sense of Self was created with the support of Arts Council England South West, le Conseil des Arts du Canada, le Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, Swindon Dance, The Place, The Brewhouse Theatre, The Quercus Trust, Random Dance, Diversions, la Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal, Tangente, Bristol City Council and Tanzwerkstatt Berlin. Co-production Centre national de la danse – Pantin (creation during a residency period).
January 31, February 1, 2 & 3, Tangente MONTREAL
April 15, 16 The Place LONDON
April 26 Blue Room CARDIFF
May 1 Arnolfini BRISTOL
May 2 Swindon Dance SWINDON
January 14, 15 & 16, CND PARIS
January 21 to 24, La Rotonde QUEBEC
October 15, Axis Arts Centre CREWE
October 17, The Riley Theatre LEEDS
October 20, CCN du Havre LE HAVRE
October 22, CCN de Caen CAEN
October 28, University of Surrey GUILDFORD
November 5, DÉDA DERBY
February 23 to 25 Sense of Self, Dancemakers TORONTO