Square Dances: 4 London Squares, over 200 dancers, bells, and a mobile audience.
The Men in Brunswick Square
50 men in tones of blues and browns, slowly walk towards a large chestnut tree. A huge church bell is struck, very slowly the men move, raising their heads and arms like plants searching out the sun, the bell chimes again, and as if the earth is magnetically pulling them they are being drawn down to the ground. The vibrations of the bell hum through the air and ground. There is a reverence, the audience circling the tree are silent and still, we are as if one with the men, all caught between the vibrations of the bell, the silence of the square and the pull of the earth.
The Dance Students in Queen Square
The dancers each carrying a desk bell, stand close to the benches where the audience sit surrounding the small square. Before commencing they quietly ask if there is a person we would like to dedicate the dance to, the name is written on the dancers arm, by the second day their arms are covered in names. They ring the bells and each dances a unique solo moving from ground to air, returning to the ground to ring the bell at the close of the dance. They move towards other benches to dance, again dedicated to another, again making a gift of their dance. The square is full of echoes and memories.
The Women in Gordon Square
Gordon Square is the biggest square, with the largest group of performers. The women arrive dressed in shades of blue all with hand bells, as they move across the square they stop and listen, their heads on one side or their faces turned to sky. Stamping feet in an unsettled animal way, raising arms, turning, as if movement made by one group is felt through the earth by others across the square, stimulating movement.
The Children in Woburn Square
This was the last dance I watched, the children held small hand bells, which they rung as they scampered, they moved faster than the grown ups, it was great to end with such liveliness. As they left the square we could hear them ringing the bells and laughing as went down the street. As I looked around the audience, some having watched all 4 performances some having just chanced across this one, everyone was smiling.