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Syphons of Sand 

A new dance film in collaboration with

Daniel Bruce Films & Kitty Macfarlane

In partnership 

with Totnes School of Dance

During the global pandemic of 2020 our choreographer Deborah Norris, spent twelve weeks teaching contemporary technique, improvisation, and choreographic classes on-line to a group of young dancers in Totnes, Devon. The nature of the classes were to support the continued development of the students in a period of unsettlement, whilst their normal classes and studio remained closed. 

Whilst classes online became part of their "new normal" we decided to focus their classes with creative tasks informed by their daily walks on the Devon coastline, and the escapism that the beach and seashore offered them. The students created solos, inspired by a series of words that they had chosen individually about their relationship with their local coastal environment.

BalletFolk approached local film maker, Daniel Bruce, about a possible collaboration, and the project began to take place as a dance film. In early August, as lockdown eased, the dancers, filmed over two days with Deborah and Daniel, and a support team including principal of Totnes School of Dance, Louise Knapman-Singh, and teacher Rebecca Laight. The filming took place with full social distance measure in place and the dancers worked to create some beautiful phrases of movement whilst dealing with the challenges of maintaining social distance. 


A New Collaboration with Folk Artist, Kitty Macfarlane


After this first period of research and development filming, we reached out to collaborate with folk artist, Kitty Macfarlane, to consider writing a score for the film. Her writing is so immersed in nature and conservation, that her enthusiasm for this project allowed us to develop a beautiful song that is descriptive and emotional, drawing on the words the dancers used to inspire their movement. The imagery within the song lyrics draws upon the beauty of the Devon coastline, and creates a perfect relationship with movement of the choreography and the camera. Kitty released 'Half Wild' as a single on Friday 29th January 2021. 

Daniel Bruce - Film-maker - Movement Through The Camera

Daniel Bruce is an inspiring film-maker, who co-directed the film with Deborah Norris, shot, and edited the film in direct relation to the lyrics and music created by Kitty. His attention to detail in shooting the film was key to making this collaboration not only educational for the dancers, but to deliver a film of real quality capturing the essence Daniel's local surroundings. 

Film Premiere - February 14th  2021

The film premiered on February 14th 2021. We believe this project has been a very positive part of the lockdown of 2020 for these young dancers and has offered them not only a performance opportunity, but the experience of working on a dance film, and choreographing in a site specific environment.


Project Managers - Peninsular Dance Partnership

As part of the project, we were able to mentor and support two dance artists, who become the project managers for this creative process and filming. Lilly Laight and Chloe Hawkins, had both been about to embark on professional performance work which was impacted due to the pandemic. Giving them the opportunity to work with BalletFolk we were able to support them in applying to the Peninsular Dance Partnership, from which they received a bursary enabling them to work with us. 

We are incredibly grateful to Dance in Devon for their guidance, and the Peninsular Dance Partnership for their support for these two emerging dance artists. 

We would also like to thank Louise Knapman-Singh, Rebecca Laight and all the dancers and their families, for their support in creating this dance film. 

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