Thursday, 26 November 2015

Platinum dance my poem 'Ayre'.

Platinum rehearsing piece inspired by 'Ayre'.

I'm thrilled that one of my poems, 'Ayre' has inspired a dance piece choreographed by Matthew Hawkins and to be performed by Platinum dance group this Sunday 6th December, 2pm at the Queen's Hall, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh as part of the Dance Base Christmas Show. See The Queens Hall

I've just got back from watching the rehearsal and it was an incredibly moving experience. Exquisite choreography evokes the sense of tides breaking either side of a peninsula (tombolo) not quite in sync but echoing each other conveyed through 'gesture' and 'breath' .  This is a multi-layered work with complex patterning of gesture - turning it into something rich and strange, speaking its own language, arising from my poem but becoming something utterly itself and other.  Accompanied by eerie electronic music, an extract from 'Alone in Your Company' composed by Fabienne Audeod, the hairs on the back of my neck rose!  A great honour to have this wonderful work inspired by my poem.

Here is the original poem:


                                                     (Tombolo*, St Ninian's Isle)

                                           Airy and eerie:

                                           a stretch of pebbles, a peninsula,
                                           where the opera of the tide is ever
                                           answering, echoing
                                           gesture with gesture,
                                           breath with breath,
                                           ecstatic airs
                                           from elsewhere.

* A 'tombolo' is a peninsula of sand and gravel on which the tide breaks on both sides, not necessarily simultaneously but more like an echo and response.

                                         (From my pamphlet 'Flout' (HappenStance Press, 2015)

Matthew is a former member of the Royal Ballet School who has since gone on to become a choreographer of note.  He currently also teaches at Dance Base. See  http://www.Matthew Hawkins Dance

Platinum is a dance class for those aged 60+  which meets regularly on a termly basis at Dance Base.       Look under 'Contemporary'.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Saint Petersburg, Pushkin and Anna Akhmatova.

Inside the Winter Palace (aka The Hermitage), St. Petersburg.
I've never seen so much gilt on cupolas and on the top of spires shining in the sun or inside the palaces plus white stucco and chandeliers.  Each palace my husband and I (as part of a group tour) went to was  more stupendous and glittery than the last, outdoing Versailles.  Louise XIV must be turning in his grave.  Every building in the centre and either side of the river Neva appears to be a former palace. Even more amazing was to discover that many of these palaces were destroyed in WW2 and have been rebuilt as almost exact replicas.

Our guide was enthusiastic about Peter the Great and the 18th c and in particular Pushkin.  I found the Literary Cafe on Nevksy Prospect which is where Pushkin was before he left to go to his fatal duel. Unfortunately the cafe was closed (cleaning up after 'a banquet') but we did see his statue in a nearby square. The Russians are mad about Pushkin. I gather he is the country's favourite poet.

A poet who means much more to me is Anna Akhmatova. We had one day 'free' from the official guided tour and so I made a personal pilgrimage to one of her residences, now a museum, in the Fontanka building, part of the former servants' quarters of the Sheremetov Palace but turned into flats in Soviet times.  The small apartments housed several families, and I believe it was 8 people who had to share the basic kitchen.  The experience of visiting this poverty-stricken apartment was a sobering corrective to all the splendid palaces.

Inside Akhmatova's flat in the Fontanka.

On return, I have been reading Elaine Feinstein's detailed and fascinating biography.  Akhmatova's first husband was shot by the Soviets and her son was sent to a gulag in Siberia. Her life  as well as the poetry is deeply moving and I've been rereading the poetry (in translation. My Russian is very basic.)

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