Tandem Ballet R&D

A blind man walks his tandem into the space.  He pulls the bike onto the back wheel and behind, a dancer mirrors, rearing up her leg & arms A partially sighted dancer on the ground, leaps alongside a moving tandem, with her hand on the rider's shoulder
The Tandem Ballet R&D  explored the potential of creating a dance performance on tandems by blind and partially sighted participants over several weeks in June & July 2012, culminating in a public sharing on Tuesday 10th July.

The research process used contemporary dance and post modern dance techniques as a starting point, from which we evolved a unique form, of movement vocabulary and theatrical imagery, for participants and tandems.   We explored ideas around particicpants’ experiences of tandems/bicycles and cycling, for example, freedom, independence, fear and trust.

Central to the R&D was an exploration of the potential for an innovative and intriguing soundscape.  Music, interviews and sound systems on the bikes were woven together to move sound around the space.

We also experimented with live and recorded audio description to play with new ways to create lyrical, spoken word imagery for the entire audience.

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In the simple sequences and imagery that emerged over the weeks, were the glimpses of a world of archetypes echoing mythological legends and fairy tales.  Dark, scary forests and pursuit by the unknown; a three headed serpent locked in the eternal battle of which direction to take; and a blind hero with a tandem, a tall, dark figure mirrored by a waif-like blond form, analogous to the parallel worlds of imagination and reality, the internal and external.   These monsters and unknown landscapes contrasted sharply with the fluid, expansive motion and the freedom and companionship of riding a tandem.

A new show, Everyday Hero has emerged from the R&D, as an exploration of Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey, imagined through the first, solo adventure of a person who has lost their sight.

A partially sighted tandem rider stands on the cross bar with one leg raised in an arabesque, whilst the front rider continues to cycle

A partially sighted rider balances both feet on the bike frame, whilst the front rider continues to cycle Tandems circle audience members seated in the centre of the space Two dancers leap & lunge, joined by a red silk scarf. In the background a performer walks his tandem on its back wheel A performer holds his bike on its back wheel towering over another performer on the floor A partially sighted dancer on the ground, pulls a tandem rider by the hand, in a circular loop Tandems ride in a huge circle around audience members in the centre of the space Performers line up & take a bow







Everyday Hero will be created in spring 2013, further info HERE.

We also aim to incorporate elements of the R&D into a routine as part of the Bicycle Ballet Mass Show.

The Tandem Ballet R&D is a collaboration between creative producer, Karen Poley, choreographer by Virginia Farman, sound designer Oliver Aylmer, audio describer Kirstin Smith, and the participants:  Ade, Alex, Alice, Bob, Cristian, Ian, Harriet, Hilary, Judith, Odette & Peter.

Project partners include the Thomas Pocklington Resource Centre, Roehampton University, Wandsworth Council, Linden Lodge School, Merton Sport and Social Club.

Funded by:

Arts Council England logo




Big Dance logo


As part of the South London Big Dance programme, led by Siobhan Davies Dance.


Logos for Lottery Legacy Trust, Arts Council England and Mayor of London
logo for Wandsworth Council funding





Produced by:
KP Projects logo

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