Choreographer Alexander Whitley takes inspiration from the stunning images and data produced by solar science research, in his collaboration with space scientists from STFC RAL Space. With a specially created score by the electro-acoustic music innovator Daniel Wohl and an installation of high-definition imagery from visual artist Tal Rosner, 8 Minutes uses movement, film and music to illuminate our relationship with the star that gives us life.
Tuesday 3 October 2017
DanceXchange, The Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome
“Since my early childhood, dance has been the centre of my universe. Over the course of my career I’ve taken great pleasure in uncovering what our human body is capable of and the riches it has to offer as means of asking questions about what it is to be a thinking, feeling, communicating being. I’ve also enjoyed looking to other fields such as philosophy and science, which have provided me with different ways of considering these human qualities and the environment in which they exist.
Science advances our knowledge of the world on a daily basis and in doing so continually reshapes how we understand ourselves and our place in the universe. This is not just a matter of fact, but also the feelings these ideas provoke and how they activate our imaginations, informing the story we tell of ourselves, our origins and our potential future.
When I was approached by STFC RAL Space to work with them on a production exploring solar physics I jumped at the opportunity, eager to expand my understanding of this fascinating subject and curious about how dance and the other elements of theatre might give expression to these ideas. For me the parallels are obvious: dance and physics are both enquiries into movement, they just look in different places to learn about it!
The sun is an unimaginably vast subject and this piece is by no means a comprehensive account of it. Instead, it attempts to capture some elements of the raging ball of plasma that illuminates our planet as well as the curiosity and wonder that compels our quest to understand it. It plots a journey through the multiple ways we relate to and understand our home star; from our advanced scientific knowledge of it, the rhythms it provides to our lives, its symbolic relevance throughout the ages and the undeniably glorious feeling of its heat on our skin.
Making this piece has been a fascinating adventure for me, having the privilege to learn from scientists working at the forefront of modern physics and take on these ideas with a stellar team of collaborating artists. It has been a journey of discovery for the dancers and myself as we’ve explored how scientific theories can be understood by the human body, testing the limits of their physical capabilities as we attempt to get a little closer to the immense forces at work in our awesome sun.”