The dance show Falling Fire was shown at the Pontardawe Arts Centre Theatre, South Wales, on the 11th of April 2000.
In the short show, users of the mental health system and their allies celebrated their community, their creativity and their spirit. The dance was based on folk dance motifs, Laban-based creative dance and movement choirs. The choreographic centre of the show was a round-dance, a safe structure which underlined the communal work, and acted as an anchor for the individual expressions.
The show began with two participants telling two stories: the story and history of their work together towards the performance, and another people's story which provided the impetus for the narrative: 'How the Nez Perces got Fire'. In the workshops during the spring term, the group had read and worked through movement improvisations with stories from many people and groups, including Welsh stories and different tales of Native American peoples. The story finally chosen for the performance had strong visual and kinetic imagery: moving heavy rain clouds, shooting arrows, descending fire and the warmth and security of a campfire. The telling of the story allowed for many different uses of the theatre space: different circular patterns, 'conga lines' and architectural organisations of bodies, which allowed the performers to show their awareness of each other in space.
The final dance framed this story through a dance of archetypes. Movement patterns based on animal spirits were used to focus movements and efforts.
All movements were arrived at through group improvisation, and a sense of communal ownership was the basis for the work. In the performance, body parts, efforts and pathways were set, but within these structures, individual expression was encouraged, and the resulting work was suffused with concentration, artistic interpretation and pride.
After performing this dance once, the group broke open the boundaries between spectators and performers, and invited visitors to join the group, and to run the dance together, with instructions provided both kinaesthetically, from all performers, and verbally, from the dance leader. All members of the audience joined in, and the show thus ended in a joyful celebration of dance.back to main page