Going Solo - 31st Oct - 4th Nov -1988

Submitted by root on Tue, 04/19/2016 - 16:06

The Idea

To paraphrase the Press Release for Going Solo; Solo dancing may be a solitary art form  but the Blackie celebrated this art form, over the 5 days of Going Solo, in a very sociable way.

During Going Solo, around a dozen solo dancers, offered a variety of performances and open workshops.  These were  complemented by an exhibition of 41 panels showing photographs of solo dance, together with accompanying thoughts, and three hours of films and videos of solo performances.

The event provided an opportunity for visitors to watch, reflect upon, try out and talk about solo dance.

The inspiration for the event came from a visit Bill Harpe made to Crewe & Alsager CollMolissa Fenley in performanceege to review a SOLO performance by Molissa Fenley for The Guardian.  To read the review click here.

Left Molissa Fenley in performance


The Context

Going Solo took place overBill Harpe and Sally Morris organising the day

5 days - during this time the Blackie was open from 11am to10 pm.

Right: Bill Harpe, Sally Morris and Dave Roemmele setting up the day with Julie Quarless in the background

Dancers socialising with the exhibition in the backgroundDuring the day there was a chance to join in the work shops (pre-booking was required), watch films or videos and view the Exhibition.

Left : dancers socialising in front of the exhibition

Berthat Benjamin running the cafe

During the evenings there were the performances. 

There was also a cafe and a creche. The former also provided a way of meeting the performers, socialising and discussing solo dance.

Right: Bertha Benjamin running the cafe and below people socialising in the cafe

Socialising in the cafe areaMaria Agatha and Bill Harpe being interviewed by Roger PhillipsPeople socialising in the cafe area



Right Maria Agatha and Bill harpe being interviewed by Roger Phillips from BBC Merseyside.


The Performers

Molissa Fenley from New York was the guest of honour at Going Solo. She formed her own company in 1977.  She has toured extensively both nationally and internationally.  She is 5 times recipient of the NEA Choreographer's Fellowship (1981-9185)  and she was Artist in Resident at the Harness Ballet Foundation from 1984 to 1986. Her stay at the Blackie was her first residency in Europe. For more details on her life and work click here 

Below Molissa Fenley in performance during Going Solo

Molissa Fenley in PerformanceMolissa Fenley in performance

She performed three  works:-  'State of Darkness' to Stravinsky's Sacre Du Printemps;  Esperanto" (Coda - Forgotten Memories) tyo music by Ryuichi Sakamoto,  and Provenance Unknown to Metamorphosis by Philip Glass

Laurie Booth based in Brighton has been exploring dance and movement since he graduated from Dartington College in 1977. He has spent several years working in Europe and elsewhere including  working with refugees in Sudan making a theatre workshop performance project through his involvement in the massive contemporary musical called 'Andi' at the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. For details of his recent work click here

Below Laurie Booth in performance at Going Solo

Laurie Booth in performanceLaurie Booth in performanceLaurie Booth in performanceLaurie Booth performing Beyond Zer0

He performed Beyond Zero to music by Philip Jeck

Alissandra Palma was born in Florence and studied in Holland for 4 years and then in New York for 1 year.  She has also worked in Rome with Alto Teatro for 1 year and the Electravou Ensemble also for 1 year.

Alissandra performed two works Ti Con  Zero to music by Mark Hamlyn and L'Ambulant to music by Paolo Casin and Lapo Lombardi

Dwight Powell from Leeds trained at the Northern School of Cotemporary Dance. He has worked with Robert Cohan and Richard Alston. Was runner up in the International Choreographic Competition. He was a founder member of the National Youth Dance Company.  He performed two short works:- 'Two See' to A Song For Everyone' by Shankar and 'It's Me' to music by  Wally  McFermin

Paulene Laverty was born in Bridgetown,Glasgow in 1966.  In 1975 she won a scholarship with the Scottish Ballet and went on to dance with them for 7 years. She has also worked with the Scottish Dance Theatre and the Dundee Repertory Community Dance Company.  At the time of Going Solo she was working with Michael Clark on a piece entitled  "Is that all there is?" from the song by Peggy Lee.  

Below Paulene Laverty performing in Going Solo

Paulene Laverty performing in Going SoloPauline Laverty in performancePaulene Laverty performing in Going Solo

She performed 'Song In the Blood'  to 'Pie Jesus'  from Faure's Requiem.

Maria Agatha  a local teenager, was supported by the Blackie to attend dance classes in Liverpool and further afield, in a variety of dance styles.  Maria performed in a number of Blackie dance productions including 'Close Encounters of the Disco kind', and in productions associated with playschemes such as 'The Circus of Liberty' and 'So Shines a Candle'.  Maria trained and performed with the Indian dancer Surya Kuimari during her various residencies at the Blackie and worked alongside her in Garden Dances.

For Going solo she performed the Dying Robot, choreographed by Bill Harpe, to music by Kraftwork.  Below Bill with Maria Agatha creating The Dying Robot

Bill Harpe creating The Dying Robot for Maria AgathaBill Harpe creating The Dying Robot with Maria Agatha

Gestures Dance Co. based in Machester, provided two soloists:-

Andrea Laurelle who trained with Sue Moulson, a founder member of Manchester Youth Dance Theatre, and then Gestures Dance Company. She performed 'Cast Out' to music by Philip Tune

Ruth Jones gained a B.A. Hons in Dance Theater at the Laban Centre in 1986.  She worked with Savidge Dance Co. and Tryad Theatre, joining Gestures in 1987She performed 'Small Space' to music by Philip Tune.

Princes Road Dance and Drama Centre

The Evening Programmes

The performances started at 8pm except on Friday when they started at 7.30pm

The Dying Robot    Dancer: Maria Agatha.,  Choreographer: Bill Harpe. Music : "We Are The Robots" by Kraftwork

Performed on Monday 31st October  & Thursday 3rd November

Two See   Dancer & Choreographer: Dwight Powell.  Lighting: Jeff Riley.  Music: 'A Song For Everyone' by Shankar.

Performed on Monday 31st October and Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th  November,

It's Me  Dancer & Choreographer: Dwight Powell.  Music: Wally  McFermin

Performed on Monday 31st October and Thursday  3rd & Friday 4th November

Ti Con Zero  Dancer & Choreographer:  Alissandra Palma.  Design: Anello of Florence.  Music:  Mark Hamlyn

Performed on Monday 31st October & Wednesday  2nd November

L'Ambulante  Dancer & Choreographer:  Alissandra Palma.   Design: Sabine Mentek.  Carpet: Andrea Marescalechi.  Music:  Paolo Casin and Lapo Lombardi

Perfromed on Monday 31st October &  Wednesday 2nd November 8p.m

Cast Out   Dancer & Choreographer : Andrea Laurelle.  Music : Philip Tune.

Perfromed on Tuesday 1st November

Small Space    Dancer & Choreographer: Ruth Jones.   Music: Philip Tune.

Performed on Tuesday 1st November

Beyond Zero  Dancer & Choreographer: Laurie Booth. Design: Ramec Van Zeyl.   Music: Philip Jeck.

Performed on Tuesday 1st November & Wednesday 2nd November

Esperanto" (Coda - Forgotten Memories)  Dancer & Choreographer:  Molissa Fenley. Lighting: Gary Mintz.  Music:  Ryuichi Sakamoto  

Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th  November

State of Darkness  Dancer & Choreographer:  Molissa Fenley.      Lighting: David Moody.  Music: Le Sacre Du Printemps by Stravinsky

Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th  November

Provenance Unknown  Dancer & Choreographer:  Molissa Fenley. Lighting: David Moody.  Music:  'Metamorphosis'  by Philip Glass, Performed by Martin Goldray

Performed on Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th  November

Song In the Blood    Dancer: Paulene Laverty,  Choreographer: Royston Muldoon.  Design: Graham Bowers.  Music:  'Pie Jesus'  from Faure's Requiem from the poem by Andre Prevarde, Narrated: Joan Baez

Performed on Friday 4th November

The Workshops

Workshop in progressThe workshops themselves were necessarily group occasions but the intention was that they would focus on solo dancing by leading into solo performances at the end of the workshop.To quote from Bill Harpe's notes to workshop leaders

Above Laurie Booth leading a workshop 

and participants prior to the event:- "Such solos might take place as an 'ending' to the workshop, or  might take place following a pause at the end of the work shop. The solos might all be the same. Or they might be different. They might last for 1 second, 30 seconds, or a minute and a half..."

There were two possible areas or 'stages' for such solos - either in the large open space of the workshop area itself, or on circular stages set up by the cafeteria on the ground floor where people seated at the tables could watch the perfromance.

Originally it was intended that the classes/ worksops would have between 20/30 participants  - the demand was such that  some large parties had to be turned down though people were allowed, in small groups, to watch the workshops. 

The timetable allowed the dancers participating in Going Solo to take part in each others classes but apart from this 'cross-over' of participants each workshops was made up of differrent participants.

The Time Table

Molissa Fenley led workshops at 2.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday 

Molissa Fenley leading a workshopMolissa Fenley leading a workshopMolissa fenley leading a workshop

Above Molissa Fenley leading workshops

Laurie Booth led workshops at 11am on Wednesday and at 2.30pm on Thursday and Friday.

Laurie Booth leading a workshopLaurie Booth leading a workshop

Above Laurie Booth leading workshops

Alissandra Palma led workshops at 11am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

We have very little information on what actually happened so are not sure to what degree the workshops met their intentions. Though it is absolutely the case that they allowed young dancers in the North West to take part in classes led by some of the most disitnguished and most renowned solo dancers.

The Films and Videos

There were some ten films and videos of solo dance perfromances  available to view on request during Going Solo.  They ranged from Classical Indian Dance, through Jazz to Clog dancing as well as contemporary performances.

1) supplied by The High Commission Of India - "Call Of The Flute";  "Thereyattan";   "Mohiniattan"; and "Kathak"

2) supplied by the London Film-Makers Co-operative: "Nine Variations On A Dance Theme", and  "Tides"

3) supplied by The English Folk Dance and Song Society - "Bill Gibbons - A Canal Boat Clog Dancer"

4) supplied by Concord Video and Film Council - "Wild Swans In Epitaph" and "Madhonor"

5) supplied by Angus Trowbridge - "Jazz hoofer - The Legendary Baby Lawrence"

6) supplied by Stanley Foremin - "Pavlova - Dying Swan"

In addGranada setting up filming Going Soloition to having films available to view Granda TV filmed Molissa Fenley both performing and taking workshops for their short lived arts strand 'Celebration'.

Granada filming a workshop


Above and right Granada setting up to film and filming a workshop

We hope at some point to have this film available on the site.



The Exhibition

The Exhibition consisted of 41 wooden boards (32  A1 size and 8 A2 size) mounted with photographs of solo dancers.  With few exceptions each board concentrated on one particular solo dancer, the exceptions included soloists from 3 theatre companies, Black dance, Indian dance, and new dance, and  specific choreographers. 

Each board contained a selection of photcopied images of the dancer; and credits such as choreographer, costuem design, music composer were given wherever possible. There was also a brief statement that put the dancer into historical perspective and a 'thought' on solo dancing itself.

The Anna Pavlova BoardThe Fred Astaire  board

Above two of the Boards from the Going Solo ExhibitionTo view all the works click here.

The Going Solo exhibition was very successful and went on to be exhibited at The Place, London.


The Team

Going Solo was devised by Bill Harpe in collaboration with Jonelle Atkinson, Sally Morris, Sean Murphy, David Roemmele, Kevin Rowan and Charlie Rowley with help from Karen Agatha, Andy Baker, Bertha Benjamin, Steven Doyle, Maureen Fermin, Colin Hailey, Frank  Huskisson, Jon Joseph, Danial Martin, Julie Quarless, Tony Rowan and John Shreve 

The Exhibition was created by Wendy Harpe, Bill Harpe and Judy Bates (now Gough) with help from Jo Casling, Daylon Fermin, Anne Gleave and Ulrike Muller.

Techinical & Stage Management by Brian Carney, Stephen "Knocker" Knox, and Tony Snelson


Are due to The Bronte Centre, Bryant Ltd, The Empire Theatre, Harold House Youth Centre, Jeyes Hygiene, Merseyside Play Action Council, Platen Bethune, Snowcem, Toxteth Sports Centre and Unity Press for their kind donations.

And to those who lent photographs for the Exhibition:- Jenny Barbieri, Patricia Bardi, Jonathon Burrows, Jennifer Carmen, The Cunningham Dance Foundation, Diversions Dance Co., Hugo Glendinning, Claire Hayes, Suraya Hilal & Co., Kokuma Performing Arts, London Contermporary Dance Theatre, London Festival Ballet, London Theatre Museum, Fiona MacCleod,  Occasional Dance co., Bonnie Meekums, Belinda Neave, Nayta Padam, Rambert Dance Co., Bishaka Sarker, Francois Sergy, and Sue Weston

And for exceptional input to Plastic & Veneers Ltd., of liverpool who cut and indivdually shaped all the coverings for the boards free of charge and whose generosity made it possble to prolong the life of the Exhibition.

Going Solo was supported by: Merseyside Arts, The Visiting Arts Unit, The J.Paul Getty Charitable Trust, The Peter Moores Foundation, and The Granada Foundation