A small room. No doors. No light. Dank. Locked. No shouting. No movement. In your dream, I am breathing. And you are clenched in stillness. In my dream you are crossing a river in a boat, and you wail, unable to move. There is someone here, in your dream. Footsteps. Perched on your chest. Suffocating. Me. And you are awake in your sleep, dreaming, and I am real. You see with eyes shut, and what terrified you will terrify others.
Sleep. Wake. Dream
Performed by Hornland Dance Theatre
Choreography: Simon Ellis
Sound: Jacqueline Grenfell
Première: 20 August 2005
Sleep. Wake. Dream. is an exploration of the liminal space between being asleep and awake. It depicts a shadowed world in which we experience our minds as being awake, whilst our bodies are ‘left behind’ in sleep. It is not a narrative as such, but can be viewed as a collection of images and sounds involving gesture, abstract movements, video projection and voice, which collectively shape a kinaesthetic experience.
Jacqueline Grenfell and I visited Sibu and Hornland Dance Theatre on an Asialink Performing Arts Residency programme in November and December 2004. The experience was an extraordinary one in many respects — the hospitality, the food, the warmth and friendliness of the people of Sibu — but it was the experience of other languages that was for me, the most profound. Surrounded by Bahasa and various Chinese dialects, I was at once deeply immersed physically whilst being on the outside in terms of understanding these sounds. In many respects, if you were to imagine this experience (or remember it if you have travelled to Australasia or Europe), then it is from this strange (and sometimes frightening) place that Sleep. Wake. Dream. emerged.
Image: Simon Ellis