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Dance to the Music of Our Time

Watch the performances of 'Dance to the Music of Our Time', a live exhibition presented alongside 'Poussin and the Dance'

Presenting the work of four contemporary artists – Florence Peake, Hetain Patel, Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo – 'Dance to the Music of Our Time' explores the relationship of storytelling and contemporary art through movement, dance and choreography.

Taking its title from a painting by Poussin and presented alongside the exhibition 'Poussin and the Dance', the performances demonstrate how artists today use dance to understand historic narratives and mythical stories.

Poussin and the Dance

Lose yourself in Poussin’s world of riotous dancers.

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Watch 'Factual Actual' by Florence Peake

Large, exuberantly painted canvasses are folded, dragged, and suspended by five dancers, moving between flat and sculptural forms and theatrical elements of concealment and revelation. 'Factual Actual' extends what painting can do and its relationship to movement, upending the static representation often found in museum collections through chaotic shifts and ever-changing compositions.

'Factual Actual' treats the canvases, painted by Florence Peake, with a joyful irreverence, extending the relationship between dance and movement. Unpicking the romantic representation of dance in classical painting and its idealised depiction of the body, Peake looks at the idea of the collapse of the canon of white Western classical painting through the literal manipulation of the large canvases as they are collapsed in form. The dancers work with the idea of collapse and use it as a metaphor to address wider concerns of institutional power structures and the ways in which we can overcome them.

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Watch 'Baa's Gold 10' by Hetain Patel

'Baa’s Gold 10' recounts the story of the burglary of Hetain Patel’s ‘Baa’, or grandmother in Gujarati, whilst at home in Bolton where she lived alone. In a pursuit for gold, Patel’s Baa endured a violent ordeal at the hands of a gang of men who specifically targeted Hindu widows for their cultural tradition of only wearing gold jewellery. As the story is recounted multiple times in the form of a spoken screenplay by a group of performers, Baa regains her own agency, enacting revenge in the final version of the screenplay.

Patel’s performances process events from his own biography through a range of media, often recounting these stories in various ways. Patel presents his own domestic British Indian story in amongst the Western canon of art history as equally epic and fantastical, using both the traditional act of live performance, and the modern form of cinematic storytelling.

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Watch 'Scorpion' by Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo

“All bodies that vibrate change are seen as a threat.”

'Scorpion' brings together painting, live performance, costume and sound to tell a story of how disobedience, subterfuge, trickery and masquerade are embodied by characters to challenge the status quo, defy convention and seek alternative outcomes while providing protection to survive the dangers of this world.

Presented by Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, the performance considers the trickster archetype as it appears in mythology, folklore and popular culture. Embodying the spirit of two common lifeforms from our urban environment, a fox and a seagull, the dancers journey through a tale of exploration, mischief and kinship. The surreal scenic paintings that form the central stage set have taken inspiration from paintings in our collection and the dancers of the performance.

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Poussin and the Dance
9 October 2021 – 3 January 2022
See how Poussin was inspired by dance and the classical world of gods and mortals in our five-star exhibition 'Poussin and the Dance'
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