Everything flowed

Littlehempston Church was filled with enchantment on Friday November 8th, when the Norwegian dance company, Panta Rei, performed “I wish her well.” A big thank you to Sandra Law, who co-ordinated the event and sent in this report, and also to Chris Waters for writing a poem that caught the mood perfectly:

Brilliant! Our first Villages in Action event was a resounding success! Part of the appeal of becoming a promoter for Villages in Action was widening our horizons by meeting people from other countries and seeing top quality performance in our very own community space. Panta Rei fulfilled all my hopes.

They arrived on Thursday evening having travelled from Oslo – Littlehempston was their first stop on their tour. Despite a long day, Silje, Kari, Julie and Berit were open, friendly and still smiling. They were driven by Martin, their Cornish technician, who was equally appreciative of Claire and Colin’s generous offer to put them all up in their cider barn. Ali and I shared a meal with them all, discovering that we shared a common experience of working with children and getting a buzz from developing their skills. As there is no such organisation as Villages in Action in Norway, a lot of Panta Rei’s work is in schools and colleges, giving workshops and performances.

Friday began with carrying all their extraordinarily heavy equipment from the trailer into the church and working out how best to use the limited space. We’d heard that they were an adaptable group! A full rehearsal was only possible at about 5pm – so we were full of admiration for their strength, ingenuity and positive attitude. No prima donnas here.

The actual performance was magic – beautiful fluid movement interspersed with high energy acrobatic flight. The atmosphere in our lovely old church together with music were evocative and the whole experience extremely moving. Many of us related to the voice over speaking of feeling no different to when she was 20, although now much older. I was thrilled by the enthusiasm of the applause and the number of questions in the Q and A at the end. These young women could dance so expressively and communicate with clarity and charm – in English! We learnt that Panta Rei comes from the Greek meaning ‘everything flows’.

The evening was rounded off perfectly with a meal at the Old Rectory. So, many thanks to Claire and Colin for their generosity, to Ali for her constant help and support and to The Team who moved into action on the night. People came from as far afield as Tavistock and all the feedback that we heard was enthusiastic and appreciative, even inspiring a poem. The experience was inspirational!

Because Everything Flows
for Silje, Julie, Kari and Berit of Panta Rei Danseteater

After your performance
in our medieval church
the worn stones cooled

and familiar darkness
returned in a black tide
lapping at flagstone and pew,

but because – as you know –
‘everything flows’ – you would
then have heard

the minutest of skitterings
as of time-grains
shifting in their glass,

as two figures – a Knight
and his Lady – dreaming out
their patient centuries,

so slowly eased their forms
in their sculpted beds:
an ankle-bone creaked,

armour-rivets grated,
a fold of her dress
sighed as she turned,

and they both surrendered
to the strangest of melodies
and rhythmic steps.

Long-stilled atoms stirred
from the choreography of youth
and for once in their slumber

they were into the same dream;
while a full encounter
was not entirely practical,

for a pulse of time
their stone hearts danced
to a remembered score.

Next morning, the flower-ladies
changed the lilies in their vase,
tut-tutted at all that unswept dust.

Chris Waters, November 2013