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new project and respecting the dancer

Tomorrow I begin work in the studio for a dance project that will be shown in the Founders’ Studio at The Place in London starting 17 September. It is called Pause. Listen. and is a collaboration between Chisato Ohno (dance), Jackie Shemesh (design) and me (choreography). The project is, in some respects, new, but it is also part of an ongoing process that Chisato and I started in October of 2012 when we would meet in the (cold) studio on a Saturday morning to find out how we might work together. Then, in 2013, we spent more time together at The Place as part of their Choreodrome programme before heading to Bassano del Grappa later that year for a residency in the garage at Centro per la Scena Contemporanea.

I see two particular challenges for this version or iteration of the project at The Place:

  1. To what extent can we remain open to the idiosyncrasies of the Founders’ Studio such that the different materials, designs and possibilities of the project are shaped by that studio?
  2. How might the choreographic1 aspects of the project be developed in a way that fully respect the autonomy, experience, skill and interests of the dancer Chisato Ohno?

I understand my role to be to imagine a series of questions that serve these two key aspects of the project. In this respect, the project is not a dramaturgical one. We are not attempting to make something about something, but rather are setting in motion a constantly evolving collection of dances, sounds and designs.

Project site is here: skellis.net/pause-listen

Tickets (sold in pairs) can be bought here: http://www.theplace.org.uk/simon-ellis-chisato-ohno-and-jackie-shemesh. Space is pretty limited so it might be worth nabbing tickets sooner than later.

A special shout out to The Place in London and to Centro per la Scena Contemporanea in Bassano del Grappa for their support of the project, and in particular Eddie Nixon and Roberto Casarotto.


  1. Choreography is a trace-work of feeling in time. … Choreography is a transaction of flesh, an opening of one body to others, a vibration of limits. … Choreography is a corporeal passage in which the body is both a question and an inaccessible answer. Choreography is the indecipherable language of bodies presented for interpretation. In choreography the negative comes into presence: the unseen shimmers, the unheard whispers, the unfelt is caressed and we intuit the unknown.’ — Adrian Heathfield http://www.corpusweb.net/answers-2228-3.html

Up next performances Early in 2010 the University of Roehampton’s Department of Dance was overhauling its suite of Masters programmes. I was (and am) interested in how Pause. Listen.
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