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Then Or Now (film version)

202230:32PG Free To Watch

Is it necessary for me to write obliquely about the situation? Is that what you would have me do?
Then Or Now, poetry by Adrienne Rich - Dark Fields of the Republic, Poems: 1991-1995

Then or Now is a powerful classical ballet set against the backdrop of Adrienne Rich’s poetry and accompanied by violin. William Tuckett’s ‘spellbinding’ ★★★★ (The Guardian) choreography explores the joys of submitting to the freedom of guilt through a series of movements.

We are living through times where every action we take - responding to a call to arms, deciding to remain passive - has become a political act. Small or large, personal or public, our actions seem to hold more weight than before. Creating work for Ballet Black in this climate felt very different to previous collaborations; still exciting, but with great responsibility. Whose story should the dancers be telling in a time of such political and social change?

Having worked with poetry as a ‘spoken score’ for a while, I asked Fiona’s help in finding a poet whose work spoke to this narrative conundrum. On reading Adrienne Rich’s Dark Fields of The Republic, I was (and remain), overwhelmed by her ability to call the reader to action; her rejection of apathy, injustice and oppression; her reasoning that love is all – be it romantic, social or political. Specific yet open, Rich provides space for both the reader and the dancer.

In parallel, I had been listening to Daniel’s recording of the Von Biber Passacaglia, and thinking its ‘slippy’ structure, which makes it feel in the moment and improvised, would be wonderful to create to. Daniel later revealed that Biber did indeed intend the player to be actively involved in the piece; to improvise and bring themselves to it as an artist.

Finally, combining the poems, Daniel, and the voices of Natasha, Hafsah and Michael, our sound engineer Ian created a structure and soundtrack, that enabled me to make this piece with Yuki and David.

I remain immensely grateful to this hugely creative, creative team, Ballet Black, and particularly the Adrienne Rich Estate for their wholehearted support of this project.
Will Tuckett


From the Director of Poetry, Fiona L Bennett 

We go to poetry because we believe it has something to do with us. We also go to poetry to experience the not me, enter a field of vision we could not otherwise apprehend… Someone writing a poem believes in, depends on, a delicate vibrating range of difference, that an ‘I’ can become a ‘we’ without extinguishing others, that a partly common language exists to which strangers can bring their own heartbeat, memories, images. A language that itself has learned from the heartbeat, memories, images of strangers.

Adrienne Rich, from What is Found There, Notebooks On Poetry And Politics, 1994

Adrienne Rich is one of the greatest modern poets of our time. She was born in Baltimore USA in May 1929 and during her lifetime published over 20 volumes of poetry and 8 books of non-fiction prose. A scholar, activist and a writer whose work established new forms, she received numerous awards, fellowships and prizes including The National Book Award and The Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She was a tireless activist and ambassador for human rights olarly and artistic integrity make her a highly relevant and vital source of inspiration for our time. She died in 2012 and her legacy is a defining force in the ongoing development of poetry.

When Will invited me to suggest poetry for a new piece with Ballet Black to explore ideas of belonging and home we began looking for poems that would serve this theme and that would also offer an exciting balance of sound, image and story through which to create. We considered the works of many poets, past and present, and exchanged poems over a number of weeks. When I sent Will, What Kind of Times Are These? the opening poem from Dark Fields of the Republic, the question in this title and the sequence of poems as a whole, resonated so strongly with us that we knew we had found our source. As Will began work with the dancers and the collaboration between music, poetry and dance began, these astonishing poems, with their unique balance of tender intimacy and epic provocation, guided, challenged and inspired us all.

Dark Fields of the Republic is published by W. W. Norton and is available to purchase at www.wwnorton.co.uk. You can find out more about the life and work of Adrienne Rich through the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust: adriennerich.net

Fiona L Bennett Director of Poetry, Then Or Now.

 

Notes on Biber's Passacaglia and its accompanying improvisations, Daniel Pioro

Passacaglia for solo violin (1676)

Music originally composed by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)

Arranged & recorded by Daniel Pioro

Biber’s Passacaglia is one of the first surviving pieces for unaccompanied violin and the final movement of the last of his extraordinary Rosary Sonatas. The piece is built over a constantly repeating bass theme of four descending notes (G F E flat D), whose constant presence seems to symbolise the unending watchfulness of the Guardian Angel. There is a great fragility in this work, moments of sparse textures, moments of glee, intensity, wandering, yet always underpinned by those ever present four notes. This is a piece that, for me, has always called to mind a life cycle. No matter what happens, the tempestuous details, the miserable moments and those of absolute joy too, life just flows on and on. I wanted to record this fragility. With Adrienne Rich's poetry there is no space for perfection, or even of aspiring to it, whatever IT is. But there is room for rawness, honesty, closeness in sound, and I hope that with Ian Dearden's mastery helping me along, we managed to find this. A truth in sound, as there is a truth in Adrienne's words. It is a great sadness to me that I could never work with the dancers of Ballet Black but, as I played this piece, I thought of them. Imagined how they may react to my sound and the flow of this ancient music. Felt their movements, as if they were my own.

I would like to thank Will Tuckett for guiding me into my improvisations, and making me feel like I was surrounded by motion, even when I stood alone in front of a microphone in a tiny studio.

Daniel Pioro

Awards

Rio Webfest (Brazil)

2023 Winner Best Dance Film

Inspired Dance Film Festival (Australia)

2023 Official Selection & Semi-Finalist

9th Music Film Festival (Los Angeles, USA)

2023 Official Selection

Experimental Dance & Music Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)

2023 Official Selection

New Renaissance Film Festival (London, UK)

2023 Official Selection

Dance Camera (Istanbul, Turkey)

2023 Official Selection

Dance On Camera Festival (New York, USA)

2024 Official Selection

Rethink Dance Festival (Wisconsin, USA)

2023 Official Selection

Greenwich Film Festival (London, UK)

2023 Official Selection

Covent Gardens Film Festival (London, UK)

2024 Honourable Mention

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo

Full credits

Director of Photography: Roswitha Chester Choreography: William Tuckett
Lighting Design: David Plater
Costume Design: Yukiko Tsukamoto
Poetry: Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)
Director of Poetry: Fiona L Bennett
Poetry recordings: Hafsah Bashir, Natasha Gordon & Michael Shaeffer

Awards

Rio Webfest (Brazil)

2023 Winner Best Dance Film

Inspired Dance Film Festival (Australia)

2023 Official Selection & Semi-Finalist

9th Music Film Festival (Los Angeles, USA)

2023 Official Selection

Experimental Dance & Music Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)

2023 Official Selection

New Renaissance Film Festival (London, UK)

2023 Official Selection

Dance Camera (Istanbul, Turkey)

2023 Official Selection

Dance On Camera Festival (New York, USA)

2024 Official Selection

Rethink Dance Festival (Wisconsin, USA)

2023 Official Selection

Greenwich Film Festival (London, UK)

2023 Official Selection

Covent Gardens Film Festival (London, UK)

2024 Honourable Mention

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo

Full credits

Director of Photography: Roswitha Chester Choreography: William Tuckett
Lighting Design: David Plater
Costume Design: Yukiko Tsukamoto
Poetry: Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)
Director of Poetry: Fiona L Bennett
Poetry recordings: Hafsah Bashir, Natasha Gordon & Michael Shaeffer