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Bodies in Flight - A Personalised Context

Reflecting upon the last decade or so is a curious activity. It is strange to be looking back when in so many other ways I am looking forwards.

The pleasure taken in having time to research, to consider, to reflect upon.

iwannabewolfman (1991)

For a maker of and lover of maps and mapping, a tracer of lines of flight, it is suddenly very difficult to know which way to MOVE - how to step forward.

Rough (1992)

To begin writing from the works themselves is perhaps the logical place (to start from, out of, around) and yet I resist this. There seem a thousand places to begin, although I am reluctant to start from a centre (I'm much more comfortable on the periphery). To focus upon a beginning whilst all the time I am looking for where that might take me, rather than where I am right now. This is more than a little ironic when so much of what fascinates me is bound up in the present, in the presence of and how to best re-present (read re-invent) the live event, or more appropriately a trace of the experience of the live event. This live event that has always been at the heart of our work, its very body and soul.

Littluns Wake (1995)

But, of course, the process is more complex, more demanding than that. To write about the very nature of the work, how the work was made, the methodology, the long-term collaboration between Simon and myself, and the series of constantly evolving and forever changing collaborations. To collaborate, the particular challenges of collaboration - to work with the enemy. [1] There seems to be another almost unspoken connotation here too - you collaborate only if you don't, the implication sometimes being, can't, make individual/solo work. Collaboration itself as the other 'other'!

Do the Wild Thing! (1996)

To write and yet I work with a writer. I name myself as a choreographer. I have found my own texts. Developed my own language(s), writing with and through bodies and had sublime and deeply meaningful conversations about and around the works with those nearest and dearest, family, friends, colleagues, most of whom are not mentioned in our list of collaborators.

Constants (1998) made in collaboration with Darren Bourne & Caroline Rye

The aim of this writing, in part at least, is to reflect upon a substantial body of works and experiences. I have just begun to read (and Simon has begun to read to me) parts of the texts from the 'old shows'. I didn't reciprocate by dancing the moves although I can feel them intrinsically. Those words, those actions are still so familiar, so memorable; they remain somewhere deep and resonate in profound ways. I want to write something about performance that finds a way of foregrounding the practice, the experience, in the same way that action research (in-depth accounts of lived experience) seems to be accepted in the cultural studies and sociological realms. I want to try and find a way to hold on to the integrity and vitality of the empirical.

Double Happiness (2000) made in collaboration with spell#7 (Singapore)

This CD-Rom is a very different space. Who is this for? Why this format? How can it satisfy all the interested parties? For years we struggled with categorizations and definitions - we were and are always neither wholly one thing nor the other. Now maybe things have changed in the cultural world around us, or maybe we care less or have become more aware of the comfort of being discovered on the edges. For over a decade we have been collaborating across regions, across Higher Educational institutions, across and out of disciplines, trying to find flights through. Funded from disparate sources, both a reflection upon and a dissemination of our work as a whole, this CD-Rom has to straddle different avenues, to cross discrete borders and to function somehow as a passport to different communities in a virtual world.

Both And……….

Here is an opportunity to re-present, even re-invent the body of work. To make (her)story alongside his and their momentary and fragmented stories. To contribute to a history that ‘is neither a perpetual novelty, nor a perpetual repetition, but the unique movement which creates stable forms and breaks them up’. [2]

Sara Giddens - July 2001

Originally published in Flesh & Text, a CD-ROM document by Bodies in Flight. [3]

All images by Ed. Dimsdale except Littluns Wake (Times Higher)

Flesh & Text is available from priced at £12

Also of interest : Josephine Machon's Review (Re)Presenting Flesh and Text - where flesh utters and words move -


[1] Oxford English Dictionary.

[2] Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge, 1962: 88.

[3] Giddens, Sara & Jones, Simon. Flesh & Text – a document by bodies in flight. Nottingham: Far Ahead Publications, November 2001. CD ROM

Sara Giddens is choreographer and co-director, alongside writer Simon Jones, of Bodies in Flight. Her research explores the body’s live presence in relation to site, text, sound and video; challenging conventions of linear narrative and transgressing traditional forms of representation.