To paraphrase the Press Release for Going Solo; Solo dancing may be a solitary art form but the Blackie celebrated this art form, over the 5 days of Going Solo, in a very sociable way.
During Going Solo, around a dozen solo dancers, offered a variety of performances and open workshops. These were complemented by an exhibition of 41 panels showing photographs of solo dance, together with accompanying thoughts, and three hours of films and videos of solo performances.
The event provided an opportunity for visitors to watch, reflect upon, try out and talk about solo dance.
The inspiration for the event came from a visit Bill Harpe made to Crewe & Alsager College to review a SOLO performance by Molissa Fenley for The Guardian. To read the review click here.
Left Molissa Fenley in performance
5 days - during this time the Blackie was open from 11am to10 pm.
Right: Bill Harpe, Sally Morris and Dave Roemmele setting up the day with Julie Quarless in the background
Left : dancers socialising in front of the exhibition
During the evenings there were the performances.
There was also a cafe and a creche. The former also provided a way of meeting the performers, socialising and discussing solo dance.
Right: Bertha Benjamin running the cafe and below people socialising in the cafe
Right Maria Agatha and Bill harpe being interviewed by Roger Phillips from BBC Merseyside.
Molissa Fenley from New York was the guest of honour at Going Solo. She formed her own company in 1977. She has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. She is 5 times recipient of the NEA Choreographer's Fellowship (1981-9185) and she was Artist in Resident at the Harness Ballet Foundation from 1984 to 1986. Her stay at the Blackie was her first residency in Europe. For more details on her life and work click here
Below Molissa Fenley in performance during Going Solo
She performed three works:- 'State of Darkness' to Stravinsky's Sacre Du Printemps; Esperanto" (Coda - Forgotten Memories) tyo music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Provenance Unknown to Metamorphosis by Philip Glass
Laurie Booth based in Brighton has been exploring dance and movement since he graduated from Dartington College in 1977. He has spent several years working in Europe and elsewhere including working with refugees in Sudan making a theatre workshop performance project through his involvement in the massive contemporary musical called 'Andi' at the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. For details of his recent work click here
Below Laurie Booth in performance at Going Solo
He performed Beyond Zero to music by Philip Jeck
Alissandra Palma was born in Florence and studied in Holland for 4 years and then in New York for 1 year. She has also worked in Rome with Alto Teatro for 1 year and the Electravou Ensemble also for 1 year.
Alissandra performed two works Ti Con Zero to music by Mark Hamlyn and L'Ambulant to music by Paolo Casin and Lapo Lombardi
Dwight Powell from Leeds trained at the Northern School of Cotemporary Dance. He has worked with Robert Cohan and Richard Alston. Was runner up in the International Choreographic Competition. He was a founder member of the National Youth Dance Company. He performed two short works:- 'Two See' to A Song For Everyone' by Shankar and 'It's Me' to music by Wally McFermin
Paulene Laverty was born in Bridgetown,Glasgow in 1966. In 1975 she won a scholarship with the Scottish Ballet and went on to dance with them for 7 years. She has also worked with the Scottish Dance Theatre and the Dundee Repertory Community Dance Company. At the time of Going Solo she was working with Michael Clark on a piece entitled "Is that all there is?" from the song by Peggy Lee.
Below Paulene Laverty performing in Going Solo
She performed 'Song In the Blood' to 'Pie Jesus' from Faure's Requiem.
Maria Agatha a local teenager, was supported by the Blackie to attend dance classes in Liverpool and further afield, in a variety of dance styles. Maria performed in a number of Blackie dance productions including 'Close Encounters of the Disco kind', and in productions associated with playschemes such as 'The Circus of Liberty' and 'So Shines a Candle'. Maria trained and performed with the Indian dancer Surya Kuimari during her various residencies at the Blackie and worked alongside her in Garden Dances.
For Going solo she performed the Dying Robot, choreographed by Bill Harpe, to music by Kraftwork. Below Bill with Maria Agatha creating The Dying Robot
Gestures Dance Co. based in Machester, provided two soloists:-
Andrea Laurelle who trained with Sue Moulson, a founder member of Manchester Youth Dance Theatre, and then Gestures Dance Company. She performed 'Cast Out' to music by Philip Tune
Ruth Jones gained a B.A. Hons in Dance Theater at the Laban Centre in 1986. She worked with Savidge Dance Co. and Tryad Theatre, joining Gestures in 1987. She performed 'Small Space' to music by Philip Tune.
Princes Road Dance and Drama Centre
The Evening Programmes
The performances started at 8pm except on Friday when they started at 7.30pm
The Dying Robot Dancer: Maria Agatha., Choreographer: Bill Harpe. Music : "We Are The Robots" by Kraftwork
Performed on Monday 31st October & Thursday 3rd November
Two See Dancer & Choreographer: Dwight Powell. Lighting: Jeff Riley. Music: 'A Song For Everyone' by Shankar.
Performed on Monday 31st October and Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th November,
It's Me Dancer & Choreographer: Dwight Powell. Music: Wally McFermin
Performed on Monday 31st October and Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th November
Ti Con Zero Dancer & Choreographer: Alissandra Palma. Design: Anello of Florence. Music: Mark Hamlyn
Performed on Monday 31st October & Wednesday 2nd November
L'Ambulante Dancer & Choreographer: Alissandra Palma. Design: Sabine Mentek. Carpet: Andrea Marescalechi. Music: Paolo Casin and Lapo Lombardi
Perfromed on Monday 31st October & Wednesday 2nd November 8p.m
Cast Out Dancer & Choreographer : Andrea Laurelle. Music : Philip Tune.
Perfromed on Tuesday 1st November
Small Space Dancer & Choreographer: Ruth Jones. Music: Philip Tune.
Performed on Tuesday 1st November
Beyond Zero Dancer & Choreographer: Laurie Booth. Design: Ramec Van Zeyl. Music: Philip Jeck.
Performed on Tuesday 1st November & Wednesday 2nd November
Esperanto" (Coda - Forgotten Memories) Dancer & Choreographer: Molissa Fenley. Lighting: Gary Mintz. Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th November
State of Darkness Dancer & Choreographer: Molissa Fenley. Lighting: David Moody. Music: Le Sacre Du Printemps by Stravinsky
Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th November
Provenance Unknown Dancer & Choreographer: Molissa Fenley. Lighting: David Moody. Music: 'Metamorphosis' by Philip Glass, Performed by Martin Goldray
Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th November
Song In the Blood Dancer: Paulene Laverty, Choreographer: Royston Muldoon. Design: Graham Bowers. Music: 'Pie Jesus' from Faure's Requiem from the poem by Andre Prevarde, Narrated: Joan Baez
Performed on Friday 4th November
The workshops themselves were necessarily group occasions but the intention was that they would focus on solo dancing by leading into solo performances at the end of the workshop.To quote from Bill Harpe's notes to workshop leaders
Above Laurie Booth leading a workshop
and participants prior to the event:- "Such solos might take place as an 'ending' to the workshop, or might take place following a pause at the end of the work shop. The solos might all be the same. Or they might be different. They might last for 1 second, 30 seconds, or a minute and a half..."
There were two possible areas or 'stages' for such solos - either in the large open space of the workshop area itself, or on circular stages set up by the cafeteria on the ground floor where people seated at the tables could watch the perfromance.
Originally it was intended that the classes/ worksops would have between 20/30 participants - the demand was such that some large parties had to be turned down though people were allowed, in small groups, to watch the workshops.
The timetable allowed the dancers participating in Going Solo to take part in each others classes but apart from this 'cross-over' of participants each workshops was made up of differrent participants.
The Time Table
Molissa Fenley led workshops at 2.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday
Above Molissa Fenley leading workshops
Laurie Booth led workshops at 11am on Wednesday and at 2.30pm on Thursday and Friday.
Above Laurie Booth leading workshops
Alissandra Palma led workshops at 11am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
We have very little information on what actually happened so are not sure to what degree the workshops met their intentions. Though it is absolutely the case that they allowed young dancers in the North West to take part in classes led by some of the most disitnguished and most renowned solo dancers.
The Films and Videos
There were some ten films and videos of solo dance perfromances available to view on request during Going Solo. They ranged from Classical Indian Dance, through Jazz to Clog dancing as well as contemporary performances.
1) supplied by The High Commission Of India - "Call Of The Flute"; "Thereyattan"; "Mohiniattan"; and "Kathak"
2) supplied by the London Film-Makers Co-operative: "Nine Variations On A Dance Theme", and "Tides"
3) supplied by The English Folk Dance and Song Society - "Bill Gibbons - A Canal Boat Clog Dancer"
4) supplied by Concord Video and Film Council - "Wild Swans In Epitaph" and "Madhonor"
5) supplied by Angus Trowbridge - "Jazz hoofer - The Legendary Baby Lawrence"
6) supplied by Stanley Foremin - "Pavlova - Dying Swan"
Above and right Granada setting up to film and filming a workshop
We hope at some point to have this film available on the site.
The Exhibition consisted of 41 wooden boards (32 A1 size and 8 A2 size) mounted with photographs of solo dancers. With few exceptions each board concentrated on one particular solo dancer, the exceptions included soloists from 3 theatre companies, Black dance, Indian dance, and new dance, and specific choreographers.
Each board contained a selection of photcopied images of the dancer; and credits such as choreographer, costuem design, music composer were given wherever possible. There was also a brief statement that put the dancer into historical perspective and a 'thought' on solo dancing itself.
Above two of the Boards from the Going Solo Exhibition. To view all the works click here.
The Going Solo exhibition was very successful and went on to be exhibited at The Place, London.
Going Solo was devised by Bill Harpe in collaboration with Jonelle Atkinson, Sally Morris, Sean Murphy, David Roemmele, Kevin Rowan and Charlie Rowley with help from Karen Agatha, Andy Baker, Bertha Benjamin, Steven Doyle, Maureen Fermin, Colin Hailey, Frank Huskisson, Jon Joseph, Danial Martin, Julie Quarless, Tony Rowan and John Shreve
The Exhibition was created by Wendy Harpe, Bill Harpe and Judy Bates (now Gough) with help from Jo Casling, Daylon Fermin, Anne Gleave and Ulrike Muller.
Techinical & Stage Management by Brian Carney, Stephen "Knocker" Knox, and Tony Snelson
Are due to The Bronte Centre, Bryant Ltd, The Empire Theatre, Harold House Youth Centre, Jeyes Hygiene, Merseyside Play Action Council, Platen Bethune, Snowcem, Toxteth Sports Centre and Unity Press for their kind donations.
And to those who lent photographs for the Exhibition:- Jenny Barbieri, Patricia Bardi, Jonathon Burrows, Jennifer Carmen, The Cunningham Dance Foundation, Diversions Dance Co., Hugo Glendinning, Claire Hayes, Suraya Hilal & Co., Kokuma Performing Arts, London Contermporary Dance Theatre, London Festival Ballet, London Theatre Museum, Fiona MacCleod, Occasional Dance co., Bonnie Meekums, Belinda Neave, Nayta Padam, Rambert Dance Co., Bishaka Sarker, Francois Sergy, and Sue Weston
And for exceptional input to Plastic & Veneers Ltd., of liverpool who cut and indivdually shaped all the coverings for the boards free of charge and whose generosity made it possble to prolong the life of the Exhibition.
Going Solo was supported by:- Merseyside Arts, The Visiting Arts Unit, The J.Paul Getty Charitable Trust, The Peter Moores Foundation, and The Granada Foundation