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Siobhan Davies Dance: “ROTOR” in London

(above) Siobhan Davies Dance: “ROTOR”  Photo by Jo Tomalin

Review by Jo Tomalin

Timepiece by Conrad Shawcross
(Photo by Jo Tomalin)

Fusion: Siobhan Davies Dance with Sculpture

In August 2013 the Siobhan Davies Dance Company performed three short dance/theatre pieces called ROTOR. ROTOR was devised as a counterpoint to a continually moving faceless clock sculpture – the Timepiece installation by artist Conrad Shawcross, at the historic Roundhouse in Camden, London, an arts and new media performance centre.

The twenty-five feet wide Timepiece Sculpture was suspended from the high Victorian dome ceiling in this mysterious circular space made of wrought iron and wood. Articulated electronically by gears and pulleys, Timepiece’s continuous turning movement was silent and smooth with bright lights on the ends of three narrow rods. Below, the audience members stood or sat around the edges of the vast open floor space.

Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR with Timepiece
Photo by Jo Tomalin

Four dancers began the first piece Live Feed (a play written by E V Crowe and directed by Ramin Gray) starting in a line in the centre – three female and one male. “Do it as you want” said one of the actor /dancers, “It’s a shift” said another, “Relaxed?” as they walked together around, going faster, slower, creating some conflict on their journey through words, direction and speed changes.

In the second segment – A Series of Appointments (Choreographed by Siobhan Davies), each of the four dancers mirror the movement of a clock hand as they approach the centre of the space then walk backward, silently  switching formations – chasing a partner – it seems random, but is it? They speed up, go forward and back, sometimes gliding across or exploding from the group. Then they change dynamics and slow down…almost floating for a second or two. This is playful time keeping.

 Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR with Timepiece
Photo by Jo Tomalin

In part three – Songbook (Composed by Matteo Fargion) the audience is asked to move to the centre, while the dancers stand with microphones making vocal sounds and moving rhythmically with strong gestures, claps and bends, counting and whistling. The sculpture moves above the audience, and its shadows suggest a sundial gently brushing each person. In the final moments, the sounds and movement become more abstract and physical – like an exaggerated form of absurdist sign language.

This was a fascinating, devised program of movement, dance and theatre, which was well received by the audience. The nature of the performance was certainly unpredictable – yet experimental work fusing art and performance is often found in leading European museums and galleries – and in this case Shawcross, Davies and the always provocative Roundhouse produced a creative interlude to make us slow down our own pace of life to experience time passing in a different way.

Siobhan Davies, prior dancer and well-known choreographer at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre leads Siobhan Davies Dance, which is one of the UK’s foremost contemporary dance companies. The Roundhouse has combined this dance company with Shawcross’ sculpture in an interesting series of dance/theatre and fusion performances – preceded earlier in August by notable choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance company and the Timepiece.


More information:
YouTube link to Conrad Shawcross’ Timepiece:

The Roundhouse, London:

Watch Siobhan Davies Dance: ROTOR

Siobhan Davies Dance:

Conrad Shawcross:


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About the Author

Jo TomalinOriginally from England Jo Tomalin is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a reviewer for Dance & Theatre at & - she works in the performing arts as a freelance movement & voice specialist, director + actor. She is also a Professor in the School of Theatre & Dance at San Francisco State University, teaching Movement for actors, Voice, Storytelling, Business of Acting and Acting and directs. Jo Tomalin studied Classical Acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London; and holds a teacher's diploma (ATCL) in Voice and Acting from Trinity College of Dramatic Art, London. She studied Classical Ballet for 12 years; Graduated from London University's Laban Centre Teaching Credential program in Modern Dance, Art of Movement & Choreography; Trained in Physical Theatre, Masks, Scenography and Devised theatre at the renowned professional acting school "Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq" Paris, France. Jo holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Technology from Boise State University and a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University, MN.View all posts by Jo Tomalin →