Street Dance

21 Jan

Street Dance (Sneinton, 2009) [image credit Julian Hughes for Home Live Art)

Choreography Text: Instructions for Street Dance (Lone Twin with Jane Mason, Nottingham 2009)

Cue: There is someone at the door. Three raps of the cast-iron knocker. A policeman’s knock.

She counts slowly to fifteen under her breath –  one… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight… nine… ten… eleven… twelve …thirteen… fourteen…

Fifteen. She opens the door, leans out, disappears into the street.

He waits. Counts five long beats on his fingers, out of sight. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

He picks up a white chair, descends the steps with it, carefully, then raises it above his head.

Walks slowly downhill, balancing the chair. Places the chair with its back against the bay window.

He retraces his steps – slowly, slightly exaggerated – back to the doorway.

On the doorstep, he braces one hand against the doorframe, stretches out, one arm forward, one leg back.

Holds.

Moves one hand to the stone, edges back. Stretches again, arm out, lower, closer to the ground.

Holds.

Draws his body upright, walks – still slowly, slightly exaggerated – to the kerb, hands together behind his back.

Moving his weight from foot to foot, kerbstone to road, he writes, tightrope-walks, plays, placing his feet at angles, echoing her pauses and turns as she dances, but only occasionally.

He is marking time.

After a moment or two, she goes back inside the house, is out of sight.

He turns, watches the door without breaking the marking sequence on the kerb.

She reappears with a pair of blue glittery high-heeled shoes in one hand. Shoes too impractical to walk in. He watches her step towards him, place them on the ground, watches as her eyes scan the street, her hand on the heels of the shoes.

He keeps marking time, pauses only when her eyes meet his.

They hold – a beat. Two. Three…

Then they both run, very fast, in opposite directions.

He tears downhill, running hard and fast. Taking a marker at the first car on the opposite side of the road, he skids to a halt, switches direction, runs uphill, finding whatever path is open to make a route.

He keeps on, vanishes briefly from sight on the corner, slows, loops back, then – once in sight – accelerates to the bay window, leaping onto the white chair to throw the window wide open.

A Jacques Brel song, previously quiet, already halfway through, is suddenly loud and clear.

She dances, but he sees her only in his peripheral vision.

Out of breath, he walks slowly towards a particular spot in the road, steps from the kerb, assumes his position.

He stops. Draws himself upright, breathing hard, still slightly breathless. He pauses. A beat, two.

He extends one hand behind his shoulder, looks back. Holds.

He turns around three points of a finger at twelve, nine, six o’clock, until he faces the road.

He closes his hand.

Considers – a beat – then makes two marks in the air with the curved side of his hand: one, two.

He motions as though drawing back a curtain with the same hand, squints in the light.

He makes karate chops, twice: an edit, turning on the second cut to face uphill.

He reaches up, his arm outstretched, fingers hooked, as though taking a book from a high shelf.

Holds. Holds longer…

He drops to a crouch, passes his hand over the ground with a low sweep, fingers outstretched.

Pauses.

He rises, moves one outstretched finger across the air, left to right.

He moves into a position with leg back, arm outstretched, echoing the first position in the doorframe.

Holds.

He steps back, stretches the arm again, lower. Finger and thumb move, very deliberately, one then the other, as though turning a light switch on and off.

Holds.

Rises to his feet, turns to the kerb, hands behind his back, leaning forward.

Brings the hands round, makes two spider-webs with his fingers.

Turns, glances at the blue shoes on the pavement, then turns again, to face the road.

He repeats the sequence, with variations.

He extends one hand behind his shoulder, looks back. Holds.

He turns around three points of a finger at twelve, three, six o’clock, until he faces the road. The opposite hand to the earlier turn.

He closes his hand. Considers – one beat – then makes two marks with the curved side of his hand.

He motions as though drawing back a curtain, squints in the light.

He makes karate chops, twice: an edit, turning on the second cut to face uphill.

He stretches up, as though taking a book from a high shelf.

Holds.

Moves his hands towards his body, opening them out, then letting them fall like pages from a binding.

He drops to a crouch, moves his hand in the air, fingers hooked, reaches for something that he draws to his lap.

His hands open like the wings of a Bible on a lectern, palms up.

He turns one palm downward, measuring the weight of an unseen object.

His hands come together, remain clasped as he rises from the knee.

He parts his hands, moves one outstretched finger through the air, left to right, draws something unseen to chest height.

His hands fall open, wide.

He folds his hands behind his back, turns to the kerb, leaning forward.

Brings the hands round, makes spider webs, fireworks, with his fingers: one, two, three, four, five.

He returns his hands to the small of his back, turns, steps forward, glances at the shoes, holds the glance.

Holds it longer…

Continues on, a slow deliberate walk back to the chair beneath the bay window.

He picks up the chair in the silence – Jacques Brel’s song has long since ended – lifts it above his head and walks slowly, deliberately towards the door.

He goes inside, taking the chair with him.

The door remains open.

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