The Turning Time of Year

I’m writing this on Winter Solstice, the ‘shortest day’ in the Northern Hemisphere.  As a lover of dark and quiet, I never quite feel ready for the return of daylight. On saying that I know that January and February can be hard months for many folks and the winter can take its time unfolding into Spring. If you are one of these folks, I hope you have your ways of finding light, not least in leaning into one another, for company, conviviality, a laugh and a wee cry when it’s needed.

For me these dark days are a time for reflecting and coorie-ing in to what’s been and changes hoped for.

Late Summer and Autumn have been quite an adventure. I feel both lucky and blessed to be movement director for Medea in the Edinburgh International Festival, and, for The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart in the Fringe. The former a new work emanating from ancient thinking that potently speaks to our times – power and politics of course, and where women are placed within that and the choices and sacrifices one woman makes. A magnificent visceral work, with a brilliant cast and creative collaborative team; and the latter, an old favourite brought to life again by a new cast and rehearsal time that allowed for curiosity and discovery. I’ve been working on Pru for over 10 years now and she has a very special place in my heart. This time around I was able to share the love and bring in Dance Artist Jenna Corker to work alongside me. Jenna brought new eyes and fresh perspective to the mix and Pru shone as bright as ever as a result. I love the opportunity to share practice, open doors and pass things on.  Thinking of that on Solstice, when the Earth’s turning imperceptibly tips in the opposite direction, feels apposite.  It’s so important to invite change in.

In late August another adventure awaited – a commission from the Edinburgh Art Festival, as one of four artists, invited by artist Emmie McLuskey as part of her Channels programme, to make work in response to the Union Canal. I moved daily for the final 14 days of August along the tow path of the canal, making my way to Wester Hailes and back again. Through the work, titled Not Brittle Not Rigid Not Fixed, I fell in love with the canal, the land and the life that surrounds it, affirmed the need for slow in life, connected movement and body deeply to land and landscape, both urban and wild, and emboldened my belief in the value of chance encounters and unexpected combinations. All of this through direct experience and in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. The experience sits deeply in my bones and feels like the start of something. In the new year a Not Brittle Not Rigid Not Fixed publication will be available, sharing more depth about the work and with contributions from witness/responders architect Suzanne Ewing, visual artists  Audrey Grant and Mathew Arthur Williams

My Autumn has, to say the least, been full of slowness and stillness. I had Covid in October, which still hasn’t fully left me all these months later. The need to be slow and still, feels so out of kilter with ‘the outside world’, as I am want to call it.  We seem to have speeded up enormously in our desire and excitement to be back together and to how we knew things pre-lockdown. I’ve been reading Gavin Francis’s gem of a book, Recovery. In it he talks of the lost art of convalescing, of rest as an action and of the necessity of time. Recovery is this and so much more. I highly recommend it, and being out of kilter with the norm. A time of living in synch with the self. Slow walking, slow dancing, slow living. Savouring. Staying close to home. Slow and steady.

Winter Solstice is a time of change. Change may be hard, but it is the way of things. The world needs change right now, we all know what and why. There is change for the good, change for the bad and change that’s been foisted upon us. It’s hard to know how to respond, or react, or even survive. So, let’s aim for change for the good, supporting each other on the way. I’ll leave you with the words of Grace Lee Boggs, that came to me via my friend Chris Erskine, “In our bones we sense this is no ordinary time. It is a time of deep change, not just of social structures and economy but also of ourselves”

Wishing everyone comfort and warmth and a smattering of joys this Festive Season x

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