woman once dead crawl back

Melissa Holding, Hilary Kneale and Cecilia Macfarlane


woman once dead crawl back

We see women over centuries and millennia making together……working together……..ordinary ceremony…..making……ordinary chatter amongst the everyday and ceremony.

The work will comprise installation, live performance, objects, actions, sound, voice, music and song. Some of the final piece will be set and some of it will be improvised. Echoes of our time working together in Japan ripple through the work.

‘Since to follow a trail is to remember how it goes, making one’s way in the present is itself a recollection of the past…onward movement is itself a return.’
Ingold and Vergunst

Through familiar and unfamiliar ways they weave together. Catching diamond drips upon their scales, they murmur and turn about each other, speaking and moving with different languages. Understanding comes through breath. Breath is all they share; it moves between time and space, dreaming each awake from an old, old slumber. Ancient ties hang off their skin. They are shedding skin, waking to the unimagined muttering just beyond the edge of their grasp.

Melissa, Hilary and Cecilia first worked together on Tra^verse (2013), in a multidisciplinary performance drawing upon artists from the UK and Japan. The piece was performed in both countries. Inspired by their initial meeting, the three have continued to work together over the last year and now present some of their findings in woman once dead crawl back.

Pegasus Theatre, 2015, Oxford

Photos and sound: Christian Kipp

Sound cutting through the air in the audience, it’s a feather spreading sound and scent. Two women: one in white lying in a shroud, mirrored by another ‘body’ in a shroud, an instrument, human body shaped. The other woman upside down, legs bent in the air for a long time. flesh of arms, chest, legs made bare through falling black clothes. I relish this fleshiness, a woman’s body, pouring upside down into the ground.

A woman in bifurcated shoes, Japanese references everywhere! A little pouch with her, crushed velvet top, a spark of mischief in her eyes, walking with buckets as feet. I want to see her close up and far away, I want the mischief maker to play with me, so I can shyly smile and laugh with my neighbours.

The world of the woman in black bent over, I feel my heart with her, now as I recall it I am nearly crying, I want more time with her to feel that moment, see her arms, chest, face bright against the black, to see and feel what is happening. I want to see the woman in black alone for a long time in the space, moving slowly across it, to feel the weight of emotion, with her.

The playful leap onto her back, a fairy, nymph, interrupting our seriousness with her play. I miss some things, something drops, an orange? The audience laughs, she caught something in her mouth I think, I missed it!!

A kimono worn by the woman in black comes alive, she stands tall and I want to see her for a long time, somehow suddenly a big strong statue, a queen, a mythical figure, stature

I appreciate the subtle movement of the woman in white, shifting her place in relationship, responding. I hear her music playing along with, amongst, beside, sweet as I savour it and I want more time, more space, breathing, she reminds me to just listen and wait and be part. I want to get to know her way and learn how to listen with her. I want her to guide me into the space, through the piece. I hear her play as the woman in black sings, a low intonation, it is a strange sound and I am curious, unnerved, wondering.

I see the shroud woman in white move with ease, gently across the stage, they form 3 women over a bowl of oranges. She stands behind, the other two women eat from the bowl, the woman in black in her way, eyes turned towards herself, the woman in velvet crinkling at the sides of her eyes. I like to see them all together now finally it feels right, all these disparate worlds coming together at the bowl, eating.

Dr. Emma Meehan, Research Assistant, Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University