M A T E R I A L 









© Robert Vesty 2020

Appendix VII


Robert Vesty


Material Words for Voicing Dancers: a practice-led PhD inquiry into the role of voice for the improvising dancer.


This digital canvas is occupied by various audio and visual performance documents (artefacts). It acts as an appendix to the doctoral thesis. The artefacts are clips of video-footage from various studio experiments and public performances relating to the research.


Some have been collated under the banner title of Seven Scenes in Tandem – a series of projections and tangents from my practice-led research. All are instantly composed pieces with sound (especially vocal sound) and dance. I think of them in theatrical terms as dialogues/scenes/playlets (using mainly monologue or duologue).


Artefacts above the timeline are specific clips referred to in the thesis.


Artefacts below the timeline are the corresponding fuller-length unabridged pieces of footage, if applicable. These do not need to be accessed but I have included them because I consider it important that the highly selective clips (above the line) can be accounted for.


In places you will need to scroll for further description.

Artefact 1 - The Container (2014)

duologue (20-minutes)

performed with Petra Söör

Chisenhale Dance Space, London

(part of the Seven Scenes in Tandem series)


(See analysis in thesis p. 133)

Artefact 1b - The Container (2014) Unabridged.


Clip 1 - (2m 30s) - edited moments

The Container utilised field recordings collected by Söör in Hamilton’s Arlequi course to use in the piece that would also utilise light beamed from objects in the space. Both Söör and I had been concerned with the lifeworld that surrounds studio practice and had wanted to experiment with abstracting and melding material from one environment to another. This clip also documents a (failed?) attempt to add voiced words to the acoustic environment.

Artefact 2 - Gwineverra, Tom and the Enemy of Man (2015)

trio (47-minutes)

performed with Laura Burns & Billie Hanne

Goldsmiths University, London

dir. Billie Hanne


(See analysis in thesis pp. 235 -243)

Artefact 2b - Gwineverra, Tom and the Enemy of Man (2015) Unabridged.

Artefact 2c - Gwineverra, Tom and the Enemy of Man (2015) Flyer.


Gwineverra, Tom and the Enemy of Man is a graphic novel performance set at the very beginning of the 21st century. There is dream and death. The characters live in a crime-ridden city where the placement of action and words is offhand and seeks no forgiveness, yet is soft and ultimate, an instant memory, a mark. Something is familiar, but becomes past as it happens and separates itself from what is.


Gwineverra, Tom and the Enemy of Man is brought to you by

Robert Vesty, whose colours are flaxen and mahogany,

Laura Burns, whose colours are powder, royal and maya

Billie Hanne, whose colours are purple frosted and floral.


Choreography and poetry: Laura Burns, Robert Vesty, Billie Hanne

Direction: Billie Hanne

Clip 1 -  (1m 30s) circa 17-minutes into the piece

Clip 2 - (1m 30s) circa 21-minutes into the piece

Clip 3 - (1m 30s) circa 27-minutes into the piece

Artefact 3b - Gjendin Ridge (2015) Unabridged.

Artefact 3c - Gjendin Ridge (2015) Publicity Flyer

Artefact 3 - Gjendin Ridge (2015)

playlet (20-minutes)

performed with Mariana Camiloti, Antonio de la Fe & Petra Söör

Middlesex University, London

(part of the Seven Scenes in Tandem series)


Henrik Ibsen’s (1828-1906) Peer Gynt, was used in this piece of Instant Composition (performed once only) as a stimulus for channelling. In Ibsen’s epic poem/play, the teenage Peer is with his mother Äse, and Peer is spinning her a yarn about riding a buck along Gjendin Ridge — a vertiginous shard of mountain terrain. I chose not only to title the piece and make an image/flyer for it but to ‘cast’ the piece as if it were a play and had dramatis personae. In that vein, I assigned roles to the dancers — Petra Söör as ‘Owl’, Mariana Camiloti as ‘Under the Bed’, Antonio de la Fe as ‘Fibber’ and myself as ‘Valley’. These are not, of course, Ibsen’s characters but are characteristics of the play, or images that came to me through a soft notion of channelling. My approach was to work (in an aleatory way) with my first or second decisions and not to interrogate my choices either to justify or rationalise them too heavily. I did not suggest that the dancers read Peer Gynt, nor did I furnish them with any details beyond a short verbal description as I talked about my inspiration for the piece when we gathered the day before performance for a rehearsal that took the form of reconnecting with each other after a period of absence, moving to some loose and tight scores and exhibiting potential costume items. On the day of performance, we made final decisions about costume and made some decisions about timings, entrances/exits, décor and light having found objects to bring into the piece. Söör had brought a bag of apples from her garden. A lump of concrete was found behind the theatre along with a cart and other items just a couple of hours before the performance. In short, there was a distinctly aleatory quality to many of the decisions being made in advance.

Clip 3 - (55s) circa 18-minutes into piece.


By this time into the piece there is a sense of its ending. The weight of the previous 18-minutes, with its accumulations of sound gestures and configurations have accumulated in the atmosphere. The narratives that may have emerged remain open-ended. There are no clear resolutions, no clearly demarcated characters who can be identified by their psychological motivations. Instead there is an assemblage of loosely related threads, coincidences, and absurdities that have been layered over the course of the composition. Vocal material has remained sparse; intra-acting with the movement material and the concrete objects. Taken together the accumulation produces a surreal world, emotionally resonant, but narratively ruptured at many points. Channelling works to contain and structure an environment for the dancers to loosely form and re-form a sense of character insofar as it can be the bearer of attitude, but it does not fix role, nor is it geared towards interpretation. It is not important whether the audience register the links with what is being channelled. Indeed, it is highly unlikely any literary links are being made. Channelling does however afford a formulation of a loose frame for a polymorphous sense of character(s) to emerge.

Clip 1 -  (47s) circa 3-minutes into piece


This clip shows how a moment of ‘text’ appears as dialogue using the question form, “How did she say it? What did she say?”. It is issued into silence and is initially met not by a human voice, but by the voice of an object. The moment of picking up the concrete and turning it over to reveal how it could produce a sustained sound of falling debris was an emergent element in the piece. In being listened to, it gave currency to the sound as a ‘response’ to the initial question. A few moments later, Söör (as Owl) repeats the question as an echo of it. The human voices are joined in the dialogue by the voice of the object in a three-way dialogue where the second human response is materially affected by the presence of the concrete’s sound. It is also demonstrated here how non-verbal voicings operate on a continuum with verbal ones.

Clip 2 - (59s) circa 5-minutes into piece


I draw attention here to the way a word or phrase materially affects the silence it is embedded in. Silence becomes acoustically enlivened by the voicings that punctuate it. In this clip, the silence is thickened in the moments after the sound of the word “mama”. The flight of the sound is given by the voicing’s pitch and volume, but the silence supports it, allowing “mama” to continue trailing through it. The trace continues to emanate in the space long after it has spoken, providing a groundswell that also infuses the movement score that plays out after its utterance. Dancers are clearly in relationship that might be defined by role so that Söör as Owl, when she pats the head of de la Fe as Fibber could be conceived as ‘mama’. But the relationship is opaque.

Artefact 4 - Sand and Vision/Manchild (2016)

monologue (12-minutes)

dir. Julyen Hamilton

lights. Sylvain Formatché

Carthago Delenda Est, Brussels 

(The Manchild solo was conceived as part of the Seven Scenes in Tandem series)


(Cited in thesis pp. 191-192)


Working with Hamilton led to the development of a solo for Sand and Vision (which I titled Manchild) as a tight score contained by a narrative construction of beginning each phrase of poetry with the words “Here is”, or “He is”. This arrived organically around day two or three of rehearsal. I had a strong image of entering the space diagonally through curtains into darkness to find a tightly defined patch of light and this was facilitated by the lighting designer Sylvain Formatché with three or four possible variable states. Formatché’s approach was to attune himself to the piece on any given performance of it and thereby take an improvisatory rather than fixed approach to the lighting changes. The vocal material that emerged was therefore generated, in this instance, through tight constraints. Three 60-second clips taken from footage from the three iterations of this piece have been taken exactly 6-minutes into the piece in order to demonstrate the relationship between fixed and unfixed material. The ‘here is/he is’ construction produced a structured environment within which the piece could emerge and live in ways that exhibit how language development as a practice of attunement to the tasks one engages in their environment.

Artefact 4b - Sand and Vision (Manchild solo) (2016) Unabridged.


Clip 3 -  (60s) Taken from performance 3 exactly 6-minutes into the piece.

Clip 1 -  (60s) Taken from performance 1 exactly 6-minutes into the piece.

Clip 2 -  (60s) Taken from performance 2 exactly 6-minutes into the piece.

Performance 1 - Friday 1st April, 2016


Performance 2 - Saturday 2nd April, 2016


Performance 3 - Sunday 3rd April, 2016 

Artefact 5 - Close:Far (2016)

duologue (9-minutes)

with Pete Gomes/Camera

Middlesex University

TransDisciplinary Improvisation Network (TIN) Salon Event

(part of the Seven Scenes in Tandem series)


(See analysis in thesis pp. 246-249)

Artefact 5b - Seven Scenes in Tandem (2016) Unabridged.

Clip 1 -  (3-minutes) Explainer

Clip 2 -  (2m 30s) Taken from around 2-minutes into the piece.

Artefact 6 - Honey (2018)

monologue (2-minutes)

a studio experiment performed at Weld, Stockholm during the Artistic Doctorates in Europe (ADiE) event. The score being performed here is inspired by fellow participant Paula Gazzanti. A silent dance is improvised. Immediately afterwards vocal response is improvised. The two seperate unedited pieces of material are then overlayed with each other. I chose to utilise the score to add to my investigations to do with 'channelling'. I gave the title Honey retrospectively. (Recording by Claire French).

(part of the Seven Scenes in Tandem series)


(See analysis in thesis pp. 243-245)


Step 2 - Audio track of 2-minutes improvisation of vocal material. This 2nd stage involved improvising vocal material into a voice recorder directly after the movement piece. I was working with the idea of 'channelling'. By this I mean that I was allowing the presence of the dance to imbue my words, without too much conscious effort to 'interpret' or 'recall' the details of what I had just done. During the speaking I was relatively stationary. PLAY THIS SECOND


Step 1 - Video track of 2-minutes silent dance improvisation. This 1st stage involved improvising a silent sequence of dance. PLAY THIS FIRST.


Step 3 - The audio track was layed over the video trackPLAY THIS THIRD