Summer Dancing Festival 2008

Duets for Objects

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Two women draw us into a surreal world where domestic objects take on a life of their own. They tussle with fractious orange curtains, move like rag dolls while stuck fast to a dainty tea cup, retell in movement the most intimate secrets of a forgotten brown coat. From the physical and sometimes verbal dialogue between animate and inanimate performers, the distinctive personalities of both are revealed. Surprising relationships emerge, and an interplay of chaos and precision gradually gives rise to a subtle atmosphere of hope and longing. The boundary between the concrete and the imaginary becomes blurred as the women’s private inner worlds become visible in all their vulnerability. A light, quirky style belies a careful and complex deployment of rhythms in time and space.

live performances:

Coventry Cathedral / Summer Dancing Festival / Coventry / June 2008

The Place: Robert Howard Theatre / Resolution! / London / January 2008

Chichester University / SVAPA Research Presentation in the Arts / Chichester / 2006

Christ Church’s Spitalfields: Crypt Space / Duets for the Crypt / London / 2006

Chisenhale Dance Space / Chisenhale Research Bursary / London / 2006

film performance:

Toynbee Studios / Outsider Dancing / London / 2007

Filmed and edited by Britt Hatzius


“Peake and Dean, first up with Duets for Objects, held the attention of a packed auditorium. A couple of striking, articulate women, they handled text with ease and confidence and were no less competent in their dancing”- Josephine Leask

(Resolution! Review 2008, on Duets for Objects at The Place, Robin Howard Theatre)

“Florence Peake and Sally E Dean’s performance of Duets for the Crypt was a highly original and imaginative series of evocative and surprising scenes, in which the two dancers juxtaposed many elements of theatre to great effect. There was a dynamic, often syncopated, flow of energy throughout; and each scene was punctuated by powerful visual images. The balance between moving and still images always felt just right. There was simultaneously a highly formal and a completely random feel to the work. The way in which quite ordinary objects – cups, a book, a chair – were used as part and parcel of the movement compositions meant that there was a sense of narrative, without there being a linear story. The objects often took on an unexpected life of their own – not only did the dancers make use of the objects, but it seemed at times that the objects made use of the dancers.

The theme of inside and outside, or internal and external which inspired the work, was explored in many different ways. This work was resonant in the way that dreams are resonant. Images were vivid, yet fleeting. Spaces were carefully defined – by light, colour, objects and dancers – and then one scene simply gave way to another, defining a different space. There was an instinctive logic to the way the piece unfolded, each scene having its own rhythm and emotional quality, sometimes underpinned by music, sometimes by speech, sometimes just by ambient sounds. The performers worked with the space of the crypt very deliberately, and the effect was to awaken and enliven a potentially cold and dead performance space by giving value to every nook and cranny.

Peake and Dean bring complementary qualities to the work, both in terms of their backgrounds in visual art and theatre respectively, and in terms of their equally strong but very different stage personalities. At the same time that the two performers have seemingly effortless technique, their work emanates an honest, human quality. This combination, plus the tasteful artistic sensibilities of the two, make their work unusually fresh and satisfying to witness.”

2007, Katya Bloom, PhD, CMA, SrDMT

Teacher of Movement at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London