When the Birds Sang: Taking Flight

30 May ’23

In this latest blog from the When the Birds Sang rehearsal room, Movement Director Wilkie Branson explains how the choreography for the show was developed and the challenges of taking flight!

When we developed the flight movement for WTBS the first thing we did was to look at how our wonderful performers, Harry and Rosie, move. Everyone has their own unique style and personality when dancing and this is where we started. Making sure that Harry and Rosie’s natural movement created the foundation for the dancing meant their dancing in the show was as impressive as it could be with their individuality shining through.

(Photo credit: Mark Savage)

On top of Harry and Rosie’s natural movement styles we looked at the tying to create the feelings and dynamics of flying through movement. What does the freedom of flight feel and look like? How does the fast, intertwining flow of bird flight translate into a human body? We did improvisations and the dancers worked on phrases of movement to try and capture these important aspects of flying for Jay and Bird. These went on to be the building blocks of the flight sections that we could put together in a way which made sense for the story we were trying to tell.

(Photo credit: Mark Savage)

In the show, the adventures Jay and Bird have flying together are very much about a shared experience between the two characters. When you watch flocks of birds flying, the harmony and elegance in which they move together is one of the most impressive and amazing things about their flight. We did a lot of contact improvisations at the beginning of rehearsals and still do them now before every show to make sure that this special connection between Harry and Rosie is always there. Some of the bits of dance they do in the show are improvised and made up on the spot especially for each show, but to do this they need to make sure they always have this strong connection as performers, listening and responding to each other in the space.

(Photo credit: Mark Savage)

When the Birds Sang premieres at The Hullabaloo on Tuesday 23rd May with performances until Wednesday 31st May. The show then goes on to tour to schools and community settings in Bristol with our co-producers Travelling Light Theatre Company.
Find out more here.