Lessons from dancing with sticks – the semiotics of stick dancing

When I began teaching and facilitating dancing with sticks, I draw on my experience of contact improvisation but quickly found it wasn’t enough. I needed new concepts. A movement practice with sticks, has its own semiotics (meanings) and its own physics.

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Becoming Gentleness: performance

I’m very proud that despite a global pandemic, we still managed to create a new dance – ‘Becoming Gentleness’ – at Oxford Contact Dance. We danced with sticks – outdoors – in University Parks, Oxford on 23 October 2020. There was a beautiful sunset and a carpet of autumn leaves.

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Becoming Gentleness: composition session

A dance performance during a global pandemic was always going to be a bit different. At the composition session for it on 14 October 2020, we devised an outdoor dance in a park using sticks called ‘Becoming Gentleness’. The outdoor setting and the distancing from each other through sticks reduced the risk of infection from COVID-19.

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Dance in the face of coronavirus

The outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in March 2020 caused the suspension of our dance and class sessions at Oxford Contact Dance. Assembles were unlawful, ‘social distancing’ the new normal, and most people were isolated at home. We couldn’t dance together. What could we do?

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Stage dancing : Christmas Lights 2019, Oxford

On Saturday 16 November, dancer Jo Dyer, cellist Josie Webber and I, took to the stage in Oxford at the Christmas Lights Festival. We performed a revised version of the ‘In-between’ dance created earlier in the year.

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Fountain: a dance

Ideas for dance rarely come from nowhere. A few years ago, I saw a fantastic image of a man throwing a handful of small sticks into the air. The photograph had caught the movement, and indeed the moment in time as the sticks were suspended in a ‘stick cloud’. That was my starting point for a dance involving buckets and water.

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