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Phyllida Barlow | Siobhan Davies CBE | Nikita Lalwani
Siobhan Davies CBE
In 2000 Siobhan Davies was named one of six Creative Britons. Over a career spanning four decades, that creativity has always come from her belief in dance itself as a wellspring of ideas, movements and forms. Davies began dance classes in 1967 while at art college. Soon she joined the newly formed London Contemporary Dance Theatre, making her first work in 1972 and staying as a leading dancer and choreographer until 1987. Simultaneously, she worked in the independent sector, most closely with Richard Alston and Ian Spink, with whom she founded the influential company Second Stride in 1982. In 1987, Davies took a year’s sabbatical in America on a Fulbright Arts Fellowship. In 1988, she joined Rambert Dance Company as Associate Choreographer (until 1992) and also founded the Siobhan Davies Dance Company, the focus of her creative output ever since.
Davies’s main early influence was Merce Cunningham, but in pieces such as Sphinx (1977), Plain Song (1981) and White Man Sleeps (1988) she sought her own creative touchstones, developing a detailed but direct style of moving, and experimenting with phrasing and composition. With her own company especially, she worked in close tandem with her dancers, and gave rein to them, her designers and composers to develop their own material.
By 2000 Davies was ready to shift ground, and moved away from the traditional theatre circuit to allow the audience to see the work from new perspectives. Plants and Ghosts (2002) and Bird Song (2004) were made for non-proscenium stages, and In Plain Clothes (2006), was made for a studio setting. In The Colletion (2009) Davies became part choreographer, part curator, presenting dance as one “exhibit” within a visual arts setting.
The RIBA award-winning Siobhan Davies Studios opened in 2006, realising Davies’s long-standing goal of establishing a permanent base for her company and for other independent professional dance artists. Here, she has programmed interdisciplinary seminars, extended her creative and participatory projects and hosted exhibitions. Remaining true to her founding belief in dance itself, she continues to place her work as a vital force within the dance, and dance as a vital force within the arts.
In summer 2009 the new online digital library www.siobhandaviesreplay.com was launched. The first of its kind, the archive visually illustrates the choreographer’s practice and creative process through 36 key dance works. Among Davies’s numerous awards are four Digital Dance Awards, the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance (1993, 1996), the Prudential Award for the Arts (1996), South Bank Show Award (2000). She was named a CBE in 2002.
by Sanjoy Roy
For more information see www.siobhandavies.com
Photography: Thierry Bal