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Airborne

There's an almost disarming delicacy to Curious Seed's work, as evinced by this beautiful, Herald Angel Award-winning production, “And The Birds Did Sing” Christine Devaney, dancing solo for the entire forty-minutes long duration, infuses so much raw emotion into even her micro gestures, that it's deeply heartfelt and moving. 

Performance

Curious Seed: “And The Birds Did Sing”

Place

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, UK, March 22, 2024

Words

Lorna Irvine

Christine Devaney in “And The Birds Did Sing.” Photograph by Maria Falconer

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A more ethereal piece than the last work I saw from Curious Seed, “Teenage Trilogy,” it's at once personal and inventive, finding Devaney in reflective mode, drawing from lived experience and imagination—there's an invented character, Birdie, an eccentric neighbour who feeds the birds that gather at her window every day. (Birdie, although fictional, represents humanity at its best, albeit as a whimsical kind of totem). This is a jumping-off point to consider our daily interactions. The rest is Devaney asking questions about the reliability of memories, entwined with what our bodies go through in real time.

On a dreamlike set, designed by Yvonne Buskie, fragments of paper positioned high above her are shaped into an arch for this outdoor setting, evocative of, variously, wings, clouds, a jagged cityline, or a Rorschach psychology test design, which makes sense, given that this is both a framing of Devaney's life, and a wider meditation into impermanence, love, family, climate change, and that which will outlast us all.

Christine Devaney in “And The Birds Did Sing.” Photograph by Maria Falconer

Her dreamy, lyrical monologue defies a linear narrative for a fragmentary poem, augmented by her nimble extensions, tentative tiptoes and arching back. At one point, crouching down with legs lifted, she appears as though airborne. She is her many selves: curious child cradling a small dead bird with care; a lover, curled around another, a woman returning to old haunts but gripped with inexorable grief. Her body's sharp, instinctive movements trace paths which feel as intimate as a secret from a sister. Metaphors from the text are brought  vividly to life with bursts of frenetic leaps, and bold gestures: breadcrumbs as stories through scrunched—up paper balls; outstretched arms for navigating new territories, pointed fingers emulating bird claws on the ground, palms down to bring a sense of respite and calm.

The text is wry and touching, finding meaning in small things. Devaney describes the trains rumbling overhead as sounding “like the devil taking a shower.” She's sanguine, always seeking “a new song” to get her through tough times. “This is about existing and not existing, and a child's heart-bursting belief that there is something in between,” she states at the outset. “How small we are,” she later muses.

There's a sense of Devaney knowing when to rise, when to gently flail, and when to simply lie prone or in a foetal position, letting Luke Sutherland's gorgeous music fill the space when words are rendered superfluous.

Christine Devaney in “And The Birds Did Sing.” Photograph by Maria Falconer

The soundscape by Sutherland is sublime, pizzicato strings, looped, treated vocals and elegiac ambient work, evocative at times of American duo, A Winged Victory For The Sullen. Whether dark and dissonant, or swelling in symphonic beauty, Devaney responds to the shifting moods with a visceral, soulful choreography with an intensity that's almost spiritual. I find my body responding in kind, taking deep breaths as though experiencing a guided meditation, and exhaling only at the end. 

And the birds of the title? They’re a constant, symbolic of nature’s resilience, providing a sense of reassurance when things become overwhelming. 

What a lovely, thoughtful piece Curious Seed have created here: it's a tincture for the soul—quietly majestic, affecting as  a fully integrated dance piece and theatre performance. It's never mawkish or twee, but rather, lucid and honest about  life's little trajectories. It provokes much discussion and feeling, one to sit with, process, and ponder.

Lorna Irvine


Based in Glasgow, Lorna was delightfully corrupted by the work of Michael Clark in her early teens, and has never looked back. Passionate about dance, music, and theatre she writes regularly for the List, Across the Arts and Exeunt. She also wrote on dance, drama and whatever particular obsession she had that week for the Shimmy, the Skinny and TLG and has contributed to Mslexia, TYCI and the Vile Blog.

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