BLOG Jon Gower

NWR Issue 97

Curious Zoo

It's very odd when you encounter a language late in life and realize that you can speak it, albeit falteringly. That's what happened to me with dance. I'd been doing a theatre show with the actor Gerald Tyler and the trumpeter Tomos Williams and we were performing in Llanystumdwy. There was one part of the show that was unaccounted for and when I asked about it, Gerald said that this was the bit where I danced. Dance? Me? I asked what sort of dance he had in mind exactly and he said I'd find out when I did it.
Curious Zoo

So we were there in the room where David Lloyd George died doing our version of Moby Dick when Gerald gives me the nod. He runs out to the car and guns the engine and then drives it so that the headlights illuminate the enclosed garden at the front of the house. He turns on the speakers in the shrubbery and the music plays, the sort of phased notes you get when you whirl a plastic pipe through the air. He recites a poem and I dance to accompany the words and the swirling music.

That 'dance' was filmed by Pete Telfer and put online: some weeks later I received an email from Caroline Sabin asking if I'd like to be in her next show. I'm fiftytwo, overweight, have high blood pressure and acute osteoarthritis in both knees and this lovely dancer was asking me to take part in her show. I, of course, said yes, because I like a challenge: it's a deep part of my nature.

I've started movement sessions with her, and my wife says I come home afterwards and I am so very happy, unutterably happy. Meanwhile Caroline can see something in what I'm doing, something she says is beautiful, even though I find it hard to credit.

Soon we'll be creating the 'Curious Zoo', filling up a terraced house with wolves and wonder. There's a marvellous company of musicians, performers and a costume designer who has flair and vision. There'll be a solstice air. And I'll be moving. Listening to a rhythm which comes up from somewhere far within. The dormant, deadened language of my own body. Which has been silent far too long...

'Curious Zoo' is at Chapter, Cardiff, 12-15 December, 7pm & 9pm; 19-22 December, 7pm & 9pm. Tickets cost £12/10 and are on sale at Chapter Arts Centre


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