Breathe with me. Breathing in, relaxing down, feeling the weight of your fluids sinking into the floor. Breathing in through your nose, allowing the lungs to fill, feeling the soft tissues expanding forwards and backwards, up and down, feeling your ribcage gently moving. Allow yourself to release any tension, letting your eyes relax and the tongue. Sensing your internal rhythm, feel the lungs lifting the heart with each in-breath.

Now open your eyes…. 

ALIVE is a solo performance project created by dance artist Skye Reynolds and director Susan Worsfold that explores the intimate and universal themes of life and death. The project was conceived in, and inspired by, the medical history of Aberdeen’s Anatomy Rooms as a former dissection room and the experience of losing a loved one. Today the Anatomy Rooms is a space where artists and artistic practice is supported and nurtured. With the audience gathering close, ALIVE gently holds space for us to face transformation, for ourselves, but also for the space and the city the show is created in, the cultural sector reeling from a global pandemic and the wider world.

“ Alive is a meditation and celebration of the beauty and fragility of life. Moving, meaningful and reflective, this work has potential far beyond the confines of the theatre space. ”
Audience feedback 

ALIVE performance. Photo by Stuart Platt

Photograph by Stuart Platt

About the Show 

A body is lying on a dissection table. Emerging from a meditative darkness, the audience gather close as an evocative Bodytext is delivered live. Instructions for anatomical dissection are layered somatically with the poetics of memory and desire. 

ALIVE inspired by, and created in gratitude to, Skye’s 25 year friendship and mentorship with the late Janis Claxton – choreographer, dancer, producer, advocate and teacher. 

ALIVE is created for an intimate audience and can be performed in either a traditional theatre or site specific setting. The ever evolving bodytext responds and adapts with each audience and deepens with the artists’ continued practice. 

Within the choreographic frame of the table, the body comes to life through a dynamic interplay of sensation, momentum and physicality, paying attention to the resonant proximity between audience and performer.
The final eulogy celebrates the passing of a loved one, sharing a ritual of song as lights goes down upon the body in an image of suspended falling. 

Creative research for the production is rooted in movement, anatomy, language and voice. The show is a crystallisation and a synthesis of a continuous research into being present with oneself, with others and with living memory. Skye and Susan have been deeply touched by the transition from the living body to the dead body, provoking exploration into how we walk this journey with a decaying body, but an internal growth. We want to be present with being alive. 

“Profoundly moving and layered, combining themes of death and loss and humour.
Audience feedback

Humans have a curiosity about death and dissection. ALIVE creates a safe space for people to explore the pathway between life and death, to both reflect upon and celebrate what it is to be alive. The work leaves a resonant space with time for personal reflection.

“A really thoughtful and beautiful piece of work.”
Audience feedback

ALIVE has been supported by residencies with The Work Room, Citymoves Dance Agency and Summerhall. Aberdeen City Council and Citymoves co-commissioned the work to open DanceLive 2019 where it responded to, and was performed in, a former Anatomy Lecture Theatre within a University of Aberdeen owned building to a sold out dance audience. The building is where Scottish forensic anthropologist and author of All That Remains Professor Sue Black trained. 

Meet the Team

Skye Reynolds
Skye Reynolds is a Scottish-based dance artist, performance maker and educator working across multidisciplinary platforms in the UK and abroad. Her practice navigates the edges of dance, drawing upon theatre, comedy and the politics of real life. Performance collaborations include projects with Janis Claxton Dance, Curious Seed, Wendy Houstoun and Derevo. Her solo work PITCH was created with choreographer Jo Fong and toured Scotland/ Wales 2016-17 supported by Creative Scotland. She was a Dance Artist in Residence with Imaginate Children’s Festival and has twice been invited to Iran to co-devise new dance-theatre with British Council / Fadj International Festival. She was Movement Director for The Panopticon , National Theatre of Scotland, 2019 and is currently developing new work with playwright/ performer Jo Clifford. Skye co-curates Something Smashing improvised performance events and is an Associate Artist with Starcatchers. She is training in the Feldenkrais Method.

Skye’s solo work PITCH integrated movement & spoken word into a form she describes as ‘Stand Up Dance.’ It was performed as if it was being created in the moment, but in fact the choreography and text were entirely pre-determined. Since then Skye has been experimenting with her Stand Up Dance practice in a variety of performative contexts.

Susan Worsfold
Susan Worsfold is theatre director specialising in the Nadine George Voice Work for which she is one of only 14 accredited teachers worldwide and with which she collaborates across artistic genres. Her productions have won three separate Made in Scotland Awards. Recent credits: Eve (director & designer) by Jo Clifford & Chris Goode for The National Theatre of Scotland (UK & Brazil tour); Heroine by Mary Jane Wells (Made in Scotland 2018, Scottish Arts Award, touring Kennedy Centre Washington, USA 2020); The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven by Jo Clifford (Made in Scotland Award 2015, Brazil & UK Tour, Traverse Theatre Christmas Production 2018, Made in Scotland Brussels 2019, 10th Anniversary Season, Tron Theatre, November 2019 ); Cleopatra at Sesc Palladium, Belo Horizonte, Brazil adapting Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra text in Portuguese. Current directing and teaching takes her to Lebanon, Brazil, USA, France and Scotland. She is founding director of Queen Jesus Productions and Creative Development Director, Voice Studio International.

Lighting Consultant by Katherine Williams
Katharine Williams lives in Edinburgh. Lighting designs include: Hole (Royal Court Theatre and RashDash); Women In Power (with Blanche McIntyre at Nuffield Southampton); Status (Chris Thorpe and China Plate); All of Me (Caroline Horton and China Plate); The Croydon Avengers (Harrogate Theatre); The Rivals (Watermill); Partus (Third Angel); Flood – Part Four (SlungLow); Two Man Show, The Darkest Corners (RashDash); Education, Education, Education (Wardrobe Ensemble); Instructions for Border Crossings, Going Viral, Error 404 (Daniel Bye); Big Guns (Yard Theatre); Medea (Bristol Old Vic); An Injury (Permanent Red); Am I Dead Yet? (Unlimited); Ode To Leeds (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Writing includes: Walk With Me (VAULT Festival).

Costume design consultation by Anna Cocciadiferro
Anna is a costumier with a specialist interest in installed costume as an interactive learning tool for museums and other public spaces. She runs community art projects within schools and the wider community and design for theatre, dance and performance art. She also uses constructed textiles to explore and exhibit fascinations with biomimicry.

Featured image by Stuart Platt