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ISSUE 14

YORKSHIRE DANCE ENCOUNTERS – LAURA POTTS

Virginity

 

It was winter. At the purple turn of the world,

the distant cities slept and slurred in the glim

 

on the sea’s wet skin. It was early evening.

I watched as a bird split the hinge of its wings

 

and left on the infant winds. Into the starling

darkness; into the black of the atlas;

 

into the silent miles it moved to the luteous

bruise of the moon. Smooth as a womb.

 

                            ***

 

The room thickened with hours. Glamorous

black. I lay in a dark of my own like that

 

as a candle coughed to the last. Thought

of the bird on the lavender back of the dusk,

 

a distant fiction. Far from the quiet vision,

as the fields unreeled at dawn, I remember

 

the way that the rain had fallen, clear as a tear,

on the pane. Remember – colder still again –

 

the child that scampered

                               down the lane                                              

                                                  beyond the dark

                                                                       and rain.

 

 

NOTES

 

• ‘It was winter… It was early evening’. The atmosphere of the opening lines is inspired by Hannah Buckley’s performance of The Mountain and Other Tales. I remember the way that a low, soft light covered the stage. There was a sense of stillness and the sound of night winds outside. Smoke filled the room like evening mist. The dancer was a lonely picture amongst the noise and movement, as if the world were passing by as she sat still.

• ‘The distant cities slept and slurred in the glim on the sea’s wet skin’. This is a reference to the blue planet and ocean which set the scene in Zsuzsa Rozsavolgyi’s performance of 1.7.

• ‘A bird split the hinge of its wings’. Birds appeared in a few dances during the festival. Birdsong could be heard in The Mountain and Other Tales; the words ‘birdy singing’ were repeated in the background of 1.7; and Lizzie Klotz danced to The Carpenters’ ‘Close To You’ (‘why do birds suddenly appear?’) in her performance of Fawn.

• ‘The infant winds’. There were winds in Hannah Buckley’s dance, too.

• ‘Luteous bruise of the moon’. The image of the moon, large and swollen in the sky, is taken from Lizzie Klotz’s performance of Fawn. A moon appeared surrounded by darkness. A dancer, mimicking the movements of a juvenile fawn, began to move beneath it.

• ‘Smooth as a womb. The room thickened with hours’. A link to Zsuzsa’s focus on pregnancy in 1.7.

• ‘Glamorous black’. Part of Zsuzsa’s monologue dealt with the way that women are generally expected to take an interest in fashion and image. I thought that this would be a particularly apt way to describe the darkness, given its association with style. By extension, I think of Old Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn in her little black dress. Here’s an interesting fact I’ve since discovered: the slogan of the #MeToo movement was once ‘Black Glamour’.

• ‘I lay in a dark of my own like that’. Strangely, every dance during the festival was performed in darkness (or with very minimal light). Though I wondered at the time, I never asked whether there was a message behind it.

• ‘A distant fiction’. I’ve become quite interested in this self-reflective style of writing lately. I’ve ascribed a fiction to the bird, seeing a lost freedom in it. But in doing so I’ve also written my own piece of fiction (the poem). I suppose dancers do the same when they choreograph a dance.

• ‘The child that scampered down the lane beyond the dark and rain’. I wanted to end with the image of a child, primarily because each dance looked at youth in one way or another. I like the nod towards a rite of passage, too. Although it’s rare I use a structure like this, I find it satisfying to read in this instance.

 

Laura Potts

Commissioned by Yorkshire Dance as a response to the Encounters Festival, celebrating women in dance, Leeds, March 2019

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