News: Siobhan Davies Archive

Thursday 25 June 2009

The UK’s first digital dance archive is now live online. Focussing on the work of choreographer Siobhan Davies, it has been produced by her company, Siobhan Davies Dance, in collaboration with researchers at the Centre for Media Arts and Performance, Coventry University.

Davies created her first work, for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, in 1977 and the archive is a fascinating collection of film, images, text and writing relating to the 36 dance works she has made since then – and seven related projects.

Work on assembling the archive has been going on since January 2007 and it already contains 2,000 items – all readily accessible through the site search tools. It will be a resource for serious dance academics and anybody just curious about the art form alike.

There’s a facility to make your own scrapbook from items in the archive – and several have been compiled and made public for the launch. Dance writer Sanjoy Roy shows how he was able to explore Davies’ work pre 1988, the year she first came to his attention with Wyoming and White Man Sleeps, while Becky Swain, a Clore Fellow and Professional Learning Manager, uses the archive to look at how dance works emerge. “To my delight the archive allows anyone to get under the surface of some of the dance works and explore the making process. I consider myself as someone who does not know much about dance and often find a company’s description of pieces impenetrable….”

The archive has a very clear, easy to navigate design and feels like a storehouse of never ending interest to explore – from full length films of performances, to biographies of the many dancers Davies has worked with over the years, to costume makers, lighting designers and composers.

Whilst it’s rigorous and intellectual, its also fun. Click on ‘kitchen’ (what’s that doing there amongst the ‘about us’,‘help’ and ‘FAQ’s?)on the top navigation bar to be whirled through an audio visual display of the creative ingredients which are part of Davies’ 2004 work Bird Song.

Siobhan Davies is delighted with the project:
“This first digital archive for dance in the UK is a huge achievement for both my organisation and CMAP at Coventry University. Dance performances thrive on being seen in the moment of their doing but there will now be a wealth of knowledge that can be easily accessed through my, and I hope the many future, dance archives. This will lead to a fuller understanding of the many models of thinking and practice which underpin this extraordinary art form.”

Visit “www.siobhandaviesarchive.com”: and expect to be there for some time.

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