Rambert’s Simone Damberg Würtz collaborates with curator/photographer Dolly Brown to create a new contemporary dance work, ‘For since a woman’.
St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA
Friday 23rd June from 8pm
For Since a Woman proposes a novel way of experiencing dance, free from the traditional divide between performer and audience. There will be no stage; no assigned seating.
As visitors move around the Grade-I listed church of St. John on Bethnal Green, they will pass through the work itself. Rambert’s Simone Damberg Würtz and Daniel Davidson will travel throughout the building, from the Sanctuary to the Gallery, amongst and amidst their audience. Each visitor will experience a different encounter with the piece, influenced by an almost infinite number of factors: will they stand or sit? on the balcony or in the pulpit? follow Daniel, or Simone, in their converging paths? Perch on a pew as the dancers process along the Aisle, or ascend the dizzying heights of the Belfry to experience the dance in an intimate, confined space. Sir John Soane’s incredible architecture will provide the setting of For Since a Woman; its atmosphere will fire the dancers’ response to it. More than this, For Since a Woman will disrupt the conventional function of the church as a religious building – wherein altar and sanctuary serve as the focus of the congregation, relegated to rows of pews.
Photographer Dolly Brown, working closely with Simone, has selected contemporary and historical pieces from female composers spanning history to provide the evening’s music. Some are well-known, while others have – in one way or another – been ‘lost’ to the Western canon. The selection includes work from renowned multidisciplinary sound artist Meredith Monk (b 1942), violist and composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) and Francesca Caccini (1587-1641), a composer of the Medici court. Finally, the dancers will respond to the piece from which the performance takes its name – Quia ergo femina ("For since a woman") – by Hildegard von Bingen (b 1098), the earliest known female composer in the Western music tradition.
In the same spirit of abolishing the divide between viewed and viewer, the piece’s soundtrack and the movements inspired by it will challenge the most ingrained conventions of all – those of gender. Instead, Simone and Daniel will enact their undoing. As the dancers ‘perform’, in the literal sense of the word, they will ‘unperform’ the constructs we uphold, unthinking, everyday. Simone refers to Daniel as her muse; throughout the performance, she holds and supports him, both emphasising and confounding the strength and fragility of each dancer. The Christian Church, and organised religion more widely, has historically entrenched the roles of men and women as distinct from one another; St. John on Bethnal Green is committed to offering a varied and challenging artistic programme, and will function as the perfect venue in which to stage a proposal for rethinking the ancient, and the arbitrary.
Dolly Brown has photographed the dancers in preparation, and compiled a body of images in response to the evening’s theme. They are an integral part of the piece and will be exhibited in the Belfry and the Gallery. Brown has previously collaborated with Tate, The Royal Ballet and the Barbican, exploring behind the scenes to discover how new work is commissioned and created. She is frequently invited to attend rehearsals and previews for concerts and ballets, which she photographs as @londonlivingdoll on Instagram. Her photoseries from the evening will be available as a limited edition at plinth.uk.com from June 23rd.