I have come alone tonight and I notice that I feel particularly at ease in my own company. I enjoy my separateness to others. As if in response to this, the effect of the performance was to make me conscious of my singularity. It allowed me to turn in on myself and to notice my embodied being: the skin I am encased in, the breath inside me. At the same time, it evoked a sense of an expansive world around us: far-away places and open space. The Pneȗma Project mimicked the act of breathing: drawing us in to ourselves and sending us out to the unknown.

The first thing I am struck by is the thin white curtains, which fall as backdrop to the ‘stage’. I watch them billow unusually slowly: passing occasionally through a silver light which illuminates them. In their uneven weave, they remind me of fascia – the stuff our muscles are wrapped in, or the sack in which we are born. I let this unfamiliar sensation stay with me – how strange to have recognised something in my body I have never seen before! As the musicians enter, the feeling of embodiment intensifies. They cradle accordions in the dim light. Expanding and contracting the instruments carefully, they make a sound like breath and I become aware of my own.

As well as going ‘in’, the performance conjured ideas of stepping ‘out’ into the outside world. An elderly dancer (Tim Rubidge) walks across the stage, treading carefully as he balances a large piece of driftwood on his shoulders. The soundscape from the breathy wind instruments create a spacious environment. In this crafted depth, I imagine that he has carried the wood for miles overland. The other two dancers (Cai Tomos and Eeva-Maria Mutka) scatter the space with their mysterious presence, walking slowly between the curtains. They are in their own worlds. I search for connections between them and the space, between the in and the out. This is a strange world, but one I feel I know somehow.

My desire for connection is met a moment later. The dancers build up energy, steadily allowing chaos and ecstasy to unravel. They dart about the space, jumping and rolling, their breath uneven, shallow, deep. They howl and gasp, speak half words – channelling a wildness, their eyes wide. It is primitive. I notice my breath becoming faster, thrilled by this excitement.

In the last moments, Mutka is covered in the fascia-like curtain by Rubidge and Tomos. She untangles herself and finds her way out of it, reborn. She speaks in tongues unknown. Wild. She walks off stage and we are left as we began, watching the curtains swirl in their wake. This has been a performance exploring inner and outer landscapes of ourselves. I can sense my breath and the edges of my body more strongly now.

I have desire to be alone in a wide open space.

I get on my bike and ride into the night.

Rachel Gildea

3rd March 2015

The Pneȗma Project is a collaboration between dance artist Miranda Tufnell, visual artist David Ward, musician Sylvia Hallett with dance artists Eeva-Maria Mutka, Tim Rubidge, Cai Tomos and musician Jonah Brody, presented as part of Dancin’ Oxford Festival 2015.

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