Drawing of a dance called Fountain by Andrew Wood

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.

Firstly, I describe the geometry of the ‘stage’ for this dance. Twelve plastic buckets arranged in a circle – as if the points of a clock-face. Two dancers perform within the encircling buckets. The buckets may or may not be filled with water, and there is an audience who are outside of the bucket enclosure.

Below you can read the directions for the dance – its score – which I scribbled into my dance diary.

Dance diary notebook: score for the ‘bucket dance’ (1 July 2019)

The score is simple enough: after 12 minutes, all 12 water-filled or unfilled buckets will be emptied. The duet empty them – or the audience. The performers dance with each other, the audience, the buckets and the water in them. They might throw or pour the water at or over each other for example. It’s a water fountain.

Beside the image of the ‘stick cloud’ I mention then there is another which fomented in me. The dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal under the direction Pina Bausch, dancing in water. Water sloshing about, everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.

This is a dance for the summer heat, and I had thought that we might try it at Dance in the Park with Oxford Contact Dance. It should be hot though, searing heat. Oh yes, and let’s photograph it so that in the heat, the movement is frozen.


Fountain was a sculpture by Marcel Duchamp, an artist associated with the Dada movement.

The most prominent example of Duchamp’s association with Dada was his submission of Fountain, a urinal, to the Society of Independent Artists exhibit in 1917.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp

Duchamp says a urinal is a fountain – or perhaps that urinating is a fountain? In creating a dance called Fountain, I bring forth the concept of a fountain as a non-object – a dance rather than an object. Water fountains throw water. More than that, I say a dance IS a fountain.

Top/Featured Image: Sketch showing two dancers perform Fountain. One raises a bucket of water which cascades over their dance partner. Around them are buckets arranged in a circle, like a clock face.

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