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Flashcards in Shadows Deck (13)
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Christopher Bruce


company that performs Shadows

Phoenix Dance Theatre



4 dancers (2 male/2 female)


dance style

Stemming from his own training, Christopher Bruce’s signature movement style is grounded in

modern dance techniques with a combination of classical and contemporary dance language termed “neo-classical”

(Contemporary / Modern - Ballet - Theatre - Tap - Character - Folk)


choreographic approach

Bruce does not prepare movement before entering the studio, preferring to wait and work with the dancers so that he can be influenced by them.
For Bruce, as well as being appropriate to the piece, the movement must also sit well on the dancers.
He started Shadows with the idea of a family unit sitting around the hearth or around a dinner table and knew that the furniture would become an intrinsic part of the choreography.
The “anxiety of the music” greatly influenced the movement content, with the form of the piece allowing each member of the family to have a voice and tell their story.


choreographic intent

A small family, possibly Eastern European, facing deprivation and fear of what lies outside their home

Holocaust could be a reading for the work, with the family waiting to be taken away to the concentration camp (allows the audience to create their own interpretations)


choreographic stimulus

Music: Frates for violin & piano by Arvo Part (the music “evokes images of a European history and tradition steeped in over a thousand years of suffering and human experience.”)

an exploration of a family dynamic, examining the relationships between each member (son, daughter, mother and father) as they deal with an unseen but ever-present outside force.



Gener specific: mother wears a dress, the father and son have trousers and a shirt but the father has a waistcoat and the daughter wears a skirt and blouse

Worn: colours are muted or worn away, grey trousers, pastel blouse, brown waistcoat and rolled up sleeves (father)

Specific era: floral dress (mother) is a clear 1940 design with fitted waist and puffed up sleeves which were popular at the time, also the father’s waistcoat

Extra clothes: at the end the family puts on extra clothes including oversized coats for the children



The lighting was designed by John B Read,
who uses the lighting to create an intimate space on stage depicting the feeling of ‘a room’,

as well as to indicate what is waiting for the family outside that they are so reluctant to step into.



designed by Christopher Bruce

- a minimal set within a black-box (a simple set with bare walls and floor) theatre space (includes a table, a bench, two stools, a coat stand and suitcases)

– all worn-looking, and somewhat drab: confirming the notion of hardship within the family.

- space created allows the audience to enter the heart of the home, the kitchen. This is where the narrative of the choreography and the relationships between the family members unfolds.



Solo, duet, trio, quartet.


aural setting

The accompaniment is Arvo Part’s Fratres (composed in 1977), the version for violin and piano pre-recorded for use in performance.

The music has no break in tempo, uses broken chords and diatonic scales.
The music is in a minor key and is integral to the dark, solemn atmosphere of the piece.

There is a clear correlation between the movement vocabulary and accompaniment in terms of speed and dynamics, often used to introduce each character and their emotional response to their environment.


performance environment

end stage