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these bones, this flesh, this skin: new interactive music and dance from lockdown

Posted on 7 August 2020

Developed in partnership with Scottish Ensemble and Scottish Dance Theatre, these bones, this flesh, this skin is a digital work for solo violin and solo dancer by University of York composer Martin Suckling, choreographer Joan Clevillé and cinematographer Genevieve Reeves.

Through a bespoke online platform, the audience is invited to combine different audio and visual layers to decide how they want to experience the work in multiple iterations. There is over an hour of potential score to choose from depending on the combinations chosen.

Born out of a unique period in our lives, the piece explores how heightened attention can reveal different experiences of time in our bodies and the environment around us. This layering of simplicity and complexity also manifests in the way that the viewer and listener is invited to make decisions. With every new iteration we discover new perspectives, new nuances waiting for us in the spaces in between music, cinematography and dance, between the traces of our own memories and the aliveness of our attention.

Jonathan Morton, Artistic Director of Scottish Ensemble said: The initial idea was relatively simple - in the absence of live performance, could we create a short collaborative project designed to be experienced online? As soon as we started discussing ideas during those early lockdown Zoom calls, I was thrilled by the scope of the conversations and the shared ambition to find a common artistic impulse that would bind us throughout the making of the project.

“Although we were unable to meet each other face to face, we developed a kind of creative camaraderie which allowed the piece to grow in ambition and depth. So much material was shared in this virtual studio: music and dance sketches, drawings, photos, improvisations, technical diagrams, musings and thoughts. I think we developed our own way of working together, adapting and responding to the circumstances.” 

Joan Clevillé, Artistic Director of Scottish Dance Theatre said: “The result of our collaboration is a unique interactive experience, composed and recorded across the UK and choreographed and filmed in the streets of Dundee. Rather than being illustrative, we wanted both art forms to be in dialogue with each other and the digital media, and for the viewer to retain a degree of agency in the work. This project has been born out of a unique time in our lives, but it aspires to have relevance beyond this particular moment.”

Composer Martin Suckling said: “I wanted to be certain we produced something which wasn’t simply a filmed version of a live performance but rather something which was made to be experienced online and took advantage of the possibilities this opens up. Something which allows the audience to participate in the experience; something which would not be possible ‘in real life’.

The various possible combinations of layers allow you to experience a single journey from different visual and aural perspectives. The music was written alongside the dance and filmography rather than prior to it: we found a shared vocabulary and sent each other snippets of music, film and dance to work from; I improvised violin lines to rehearsal footage and reshaped structures to respond to the rhythms of draft cuts of the film.”

Discover these bones, this flesh, this skin

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Images courtsey of Genevieve Reeves.