Writing inspired by performance

Annalouise Paul

Forge by Annalouise Paul, Theatre of Rhythm and Dance. Photography by Heidrun Lohr.

I’ve just written a piece for Annalouise Paul, choreographer and dancer about her latest work Forge. I was so taken by it when I saw her perform the work at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta on May 7. I’m excited she will be using it on her dance blog and Facebook.

It’s just occurred to me that this is the third time seeing a performance has inspired my writing. One of the pieces below  (Spiegelworld Orders Me) I published here before, but not the other two. I thought it would be good to present all three together as a kind of prose exhibition, so here goes!


Her back is against the wall, arms stretched out across its crumbling facade, the texture of her years in this town. She knows it so well like the back of her hands pressed into the brick.

Eyes are bird-like fragile alert, shadows following cheek bones carved out with time and black hair pulled into a tight bun.

Her leather shawl covers her shoulders like an animal skin, then as time passes it is folded and wrapped around her core tight. The skirt becomes a bussel, its tumbling waves and ribbons of colour like shining hair.

She realises the thin line of life is running out so totters into a backwards arch, reaching to go back but there is only forward now.

Her sundress is faded denim flared out like a fan of mixed colours. She scoops the skirt up like a cape and tosses it over her shoulder – it’s lining is sangria red.

Light fades into darkness, time and life are being lost. She is losing her grip on this place of her life.

But then the music returns to its beginning. Memories dance in her mind as brilliant as when they happened, perhaps more so. She asserts her handprint on life, what she is and was, a specific, full imprint on time which passing cannot remove.

5 minute clip of FORGE (5 min)  

Ode to Wunderkammer

I want to hold on to that night of curiosities,
to the rising smoke from which a swaying column of
black striped brassiere and wine wide skirts rose,
swords balanced on her shoulders
she held us in her flinty gaze turning
those blades with weightless rhythm.

Males in stove-pipe hats and great coats were prowling as
the marble bust of Adelina Patti came alive,
her voice thrust out like a bird leaving the nest
growing in strength as it beats its wings in her breast.

All in black, the governess ruled, caressing her palm
with a cane, and we her errant charges.
Golden tickets fluttered into the hands of five
and she inspected their owners from tip to toe.

The cavalier, Rosario, was one of these
telling in coffee rich tones of his arrival by sea.
Pools of black light shone from his venetian mask
whilst glistening gold breeches clung to his buttocks.

Was it Rosario’s enchantment, the Jem on the stage?
A porcelain doll dislocated through time,
brooms of black lashes switched back and forth
exposing eyes of unwavering marble.

I have sucked on the Snow Queen’s turkish delight
this is my trip inside her empire.

Spiegelworld orders me

Women made-up for a man’s dream

stacked themselves with forearms trembling.

Men flaunted lines that we love to trace,

then wheeling and throwing fast

in fearful cycles.

We saw the sweat trickling down his back

as he ached to balance branches of palm:

pendulums swaying in sweet counterpoise.

He looked wistfully at his creation

before throwing mystery away

with one puff.

I watched a birth that night

saw muscle and mind forced forward

shuttling me back to the beginning.


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