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  • Writer's pictureBecky Horne

Returning to lentil land

Returning to lentil land. Project title: The Handler

I find R&D in December is always enjoyable – I have a sneaky suspicion this is due to the promise of a guiltfree holiday, a rare occurrence for many artists.

It is less precious, less inhibited and often more fruitful.

It was a joy having Osian Meilir Ioan in the space with me. Encouraging a way of being more articulate with language. An extremely familiar collaborator, reliable in challenging the process.

Your school sports hall is now smaller than you remember, but will always have the same scent.

Our first duet was to The White Stripes – we need a guitarist again Our second duet had a lot of talking in it – we will communicate verbally again

We moved in the morning; questioning how can we handle each other?

There was an immediate, quite jarring, almost paralysing question around gender. How we identify vs how societies propose we should handle and be handled; the stereotypes of caring, or restraining, or cooperating. Perhaps because I am lucky in often existing in spaces where this is less relevant, I was caught off guard.

I felt a new sense of awareness – making something targeted at or particularly inclusive of children and the responsibilities that follow.

It really matters how this comes across. To be playful, to show the possibilities.

We spoke a lot about the word ‘handle’, to handle, who and what else is handled? Handling, to not be able to handle this anymore.

Riding the waves of complete clarity and having utter confusion. More questions, more time & jigsaw puzzle necks.

Dancing, pouring, handling

(This tends to happen quite frequently…) I feel drawn to green. The days we wear green compliment the lentil colour palette but also provide a neutrality. An equal place to start from.

As the week progressed, we found ways of approaching the partnering scores so they felt less gendered, and more defined. We discovered and decided on some physical anchors for the improvisations; this correlated with where the power was. How to handle/be handled without being confrontational, or submissive, manipulative or weak. To be equal, like lion cubs. The laughing is good. Talking is also always an option.

Wednesday was upside down and lots of fun. It was time for the structure to shift, and the movement scores to be further defined.

On Thursday we filmed everything. Transitions became clearer, so did intentions.

What are we doing – how do we set up a situation where audiences feel they have permission – how do we evoke desire and satisfaction in them?

But the biggest shift was when we changed some of the verbal language to ‘we’.

I cannot take credit for this breakthrough, so thank you Meilir.


When I think about language I think about the words we choose to say.

What is written, how you write about yourself and your work (sometimes, for example in a bio, you have to write about yourself in third person which I find very strange).

Selecting what is relevant. What about you will be helpful to share, who are you associating yourself with, what will make you sound the ‘right’ level of experienced?

It is a constantly evolving self-portrait – a bit like social media. I am often slow at finding the words perhaps because I’m obsessed with accuracy.

How do you talk about your work? Does it sound deep enough? Does it sound pretentious?

How can you persuade someone that what you’re doing or want to do is worthwhile? We rely on words for funding. Which is difficult when you’re a dancer, because is not the point that dance or performance or visual arts is the appropriate media, otherwise you’d be a writing about it?

And yet I am here writing about it.

But it frames.

What you say when you teach or facilitate:

How does language inhibit exploration?

Following a script for audio guides, or a filmed class – that is then frozen in time…

How can you give your words less meaning?

How can you make it more spacious? More accessible? Freer?

What is repeated and what is clarified?

It circles back to my work with Theo on non-verbal communication. Words complicating and clearing things up.

I am caught between an obsession with contextualising things and knowing less often is more (and that not everyone loves words)

Keep it snappy and memorable

Be direct, be subtle

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