Songs Without Words 8
Songs Without Words 8

Studio trials 8

These videos show the inspiration and the refined stages of SWW 8 in respect to music choice, costume and gesture vocabulary.

The first and second video show both the early and later costume choices, and the investigation and determination of the rendering of gesture.

The third and fourth video show the development of the ‘moving-from-the-shoulder’ gesture theme.


I committed to Orning & Barrett’s extremely energetic score knowing that I could never match the same output in the dance.  My approach had to be to hold back and restrain for most but not all the piece, while at the same time letting the gestures come through that related to the music’s changing themes.  As a performer I often feel I need to push.  But I instinctively know that’s not what is needed.  Working with Motif of Myo1p I was constantly reminded of the importance of stillness, contrast and simplicity.  


A crazed metamorphosis. Who or what I am is the movement.

During the process of SWW #8, I would observe the performer transform from one movement section to the other. In each section, the performer gave herself freedom to play within a defined and detailed set of movement ideas/ vocabulary, intentions and qualities. You could refer to each section as highly structured improvisations, as it is never performed the exact same way twice and yet it is completely identifiable in its essence, qualities and characteristics. Rehearsals consisted of identifying sections that needed a simplified approach. In the introductory section, we discovered that “less is more” through the pacing of movement ideas within the musical score. The density of the musical score pushes the performer to want to meet it and do more. But we learned that giving more space between the movement ideas and playing with duration (duration of space, and duration of movement ideas) gave the improvisational structure definition and strength, while highlighting the interplay between movement and musical score. Another section of the dance, involving two distinct movement phrases, gained more clarity and intention when given simple spatial parameters of a V, with the qualities of each phrase taking one arm of the V. With this simple clarification, more of a statement was made.

Helen Husak

For SWW 8 I remember that we wanted things to be very pedestrian – We had started out with jeans and t-shirt and ended up with top and pants. The costume allows the dancers form to be easily seen and acts as a neutral body covering.

Angela Dale

Sidenote from Davida:

When Angela and I discussed the pedestrian inspiration for SWW 8 it seemed like jeans and a t-shirt would be the right costume.  While the inspiration remained in the gestural realm, the rehearsed dance developed beyond the pedestrian. I felt freed by the neutrality and ease of movement offered by the final costume choice.  



Instagram: @fabricadabracreations

Hashtag: #fabricadabracreations


Ame Henderson
Photo credit Liam Maloney
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We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.

Music SWW 8 as gesture dance with Motif of Mio1p, 6’01 Orning & Barrett Listening Guide

A Exposition

0 – 1’43 – exploration of two cello chords, high and low, and electronics between them

declarative, varied, 

  • space before music starts for dance to call music in
  • a continued call/response relationship between gesture and sound
  • 1 __ 1 __ 3 __ 1 _ 5 _ 2 __ 4 _ 1___
  • accumulations   
  • an overlapping of phrase endings/beginnings
  • a development of the gesture material to overflow into new theme

A in detail  (8 patterns in all)

1. 0  – ’17  (18)

1 __ 1 __ 3 __ 1 _ 5 _ 2 __ 4 _ 1___

dribbles 5

2. ’23 – ’27 (4)


3. ’31 (x3) – ’39 (8) 

10 bells dribbles, 8 short, 1 long cello notes

’43    ‘47

4. ’49 – ’53 (4)


5. 1’01 – 1’06 (5)


6. 1’11 – 1’16 (5)   smashes – pre cue for two more patterns before transition


7. 1’18 (x2) – 1’27 (9)


8. 1’30 – 1’41 (11)

B transition – shifting to beginning of animal

1’44 – 2’03

stuck, repeated, indecisive, searching 

close to 24 single same repeated cello notes – slight accel/decel, fades and is taken over

  • gesture shifting, sometimes smoothly, alternate very small to large or vv

C slow build – hold animal once music starts

2’04 – 3’25

some silence, some weaving, 

leading to high chattering 2’13, shimmering seesaws x 4 into continuous sound to stop

2’37 silence, quick bowing, with interruptions

long phrase on steady note followed by a couple of sighing short phrases, periodic introduction of new related materials 

pre-cue to transition to shoulders – short silence 2’38, then short silence w chirp 2’45, fast cello 7 seconds to laughing

2’55 strong laughing, high becomes more strident – listen for 6 patterns of similar rhythm/tempo before cowbell – begin shoulder material, easy, let shoulder lead

D allegro

3’26 – 4’43

cowbell 10 second cue to more speed and complexity 

introducing fast bowing at 3’34, with counterpoint fast lower pitch bowing 3’47, echoes, 

first low dominant 3’48 

4’03 low dominant bowing short phrase 9 4’14 by low dominant extended 21 to 4’23

4’12 foreshadow ending woodpecker theme in background x 8 finishing at 4’44 

4’14 by low dominant bowing extended 21 to 4’23


4’34 high fast bowing 10 second cue to diminishment

E diminishment

4’44 – 4’57

begin to diminish in texture and volume

F return

4’58 – 5’32

jump back up a bit maintaining pace, 

5’02 drop out one level of fast bowing, high melody fast bowing climbing and falling with sizzles, feeling of background 

G Interlude

5’32 – 5’48

introduction of high woodpecker 5’34,  and a bit more volume and drive, theme of four short phrases at different pitches….4 x  overlapping F

F coda


very low drum like cello plucks, drop out, followed by sizzle, a few more sounds, sizzle, nneow close.

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