Family Group

dance Front image

Light, Art, Action Exhibition logo, The Gibberd Gallery

As part of Light, Art, Action! at The Gibberd Gallery, local dance groups and composers collaborated to create works inspired by the Harlow Sculpture Collection.

I collaborated with a dance group from Burnt Mill Academy, to compose a piece inspired by Henry Moore’s iconic Harlow Family Group. Teacher Sarah Viccars chose the sculpture with her dancers (a mixed age ‘gifted and talented’ group) and they decided they wanted a dramatic, orchestral piece which would show all the emotions families go through together. They planned to start the choreography with dancers in small tableaux, like family photos (and the sculpture itself), which would come to life and show the real people behind the poses.

To match this, I incorprated snippets of different styles which change suddenly, like a family watching TV, flipping channels and arguing over the remote, each snippet capturing a different hint of family life. A larger conflict emerges, followed by remorse and reconcilliation, during which the three voices in the woodwind echo the voices of the mother, father and child. The piece ends with a return to the photo poses to finish.

Below are two versions of the piece: the original, and a simpler adaptation to suit the young dancers. Sarah requested the pulse in the strings throughout, and I also reworked to remove some time signature changes.

The dancers created a very mature and moving performance, highly polished for such a relatively short rehearsal time.

With thanks to Sarah Viccars, the dancers of Burnt Mill Academy, and The Gibberd Gallery.