We interrupt this blog to bring you a message from the National Institute of Sonic Geology

Professor Stella Barrows tells us about the National Institute for Sonic Geology and explains what will be erupting from underneath the ground on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 of June.

Hello, I am Doctor Stella Barrows, head of the NISG, the National Institute for Sonic Geology*. You can find more about us here: http://sonicgeology.blogspot.co.uk which is our effort to explain Sonic Geology in layman’s terms for the general reader.

The Institute exits for the purpose of exploring, recording and interpreting geological sonic phenomena in the British Isles and sovereign British territories worldwide.

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Sound is erupting underneath us all the time, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and when it will emit so as to be audible for the average person going about their daily business. Using the latest scientific equipment we have however been able to work out the exact time and location of a forceful eruption, which luckily coincides exactly with the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival. We have identified the eruption point to be Greenwich’s St Alfege Park, behind the Hawksmoor Church of the same name.

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Using a series of beautifully made Ear Trumpets, fashioned from gramophone horns and instruments requisitioned from bad orchestras; the National Institute for Sonic Geology will help the general public to listen in to the sounds underneath the ground – things they would not usually notice. They may hear bells, ancient ships or even the echo of old music halls. It is, in fact, very hard to say until we are on site and listening ourselves as to what we will hear, but early data from the Greenwich sounding space suggests that sonic phenomena on this site are the result of a unique combination of geological and man-made conditions around the River Thames featuring an abundance of proto-historical events.

We are very excited to meet new, intrepid members of the general public who are happy to take part in the ‘citizen science’ of listening to the world around them a little more carefully. We believe that Greenwich will be a rich location in terms of sonic emission: the Royal Borough is the site of Historic Palaces, Viking invasions and public houses frequented by ancient mariners. The NISG looks forward to meeting you.

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Ear Trumpet will take place in St Alfege Park at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Find out more about Greenwich Fair.

The NISG has some friends who reside at this address:


*‘sonic geology’ is defined as the emerging, experimental science derived from the empirical analysis of subterranean sonic phenomena, and the tapping of historical sonic substrata for the release of revelatory data

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GDIF2016 – The Bicycle Ballet Company

The Bicycle Ballet Company’s Creative Producer, Karen Poley, introduces the company and what you can expect to see on the car-free streets of Greenwich during Greenwich Fair

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We create exhilarating outdoor performances with bikes, exploring the joyful highs and gritty lows of cycling.

Incredible as it might seem, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of The Bicycle Ballet Company. We launched into the world on Brighton seafront with an epic participatory performance of The Mass Show by 100 local people and their bikes.  The show was inspired by Busby Berkeley’s film choreography and performed in the most glorious sunshine.

I mention the weather because working outdoors, it is a bit of a theme.  That show’s rehearsals saw fog, hail, sunburn and just a couple of hours before the show, everyone was soaked to the skin running final rehearsals in a torrential storm.

This kind of weather seems to have marked the beginning of pretty much every show we’ve subsequently made.  So much so, that I’ve come to think of it as part of the ‘birthing’ process. It also directly inspired Strictly Cycling, which we’ll be presenting at GDIF 2016 on 25 & 26 June.


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Strictly Cycling is an almost waterproof show in glorious yellow, so bright you can spot it for miles on even the greyest day.  It’s a visual performance and ‘cycle-about.’  Part choreographed around everyday cycling experiences, and part improvised to interact with audiences and anything around the performers.

It’s colourful, anarchic and very very silly.

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Come and see epic human/bike sculptures, slo-motion races and celebrate cycling, life and yellowness.

Watch a Bicycle Ballet video

The Bicycle Ballet Company will perform Strictly Cycling at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Location & time tbc

GDIF2016 – Second Hand Dance at Moat Island

Second Hand Dance perform at GDIF’s after-school programme ‘Moat Island’ at Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham. Find out how Rosie Heafford, founder of Second Hand Dance, came up with the ideas for the show.

Look down, what are you standing on?

When I was a child I had a fascination with grass and everything that lived in it. I used to collect snails to look after as pets feeding them greens from the garden; or watch woodlice and ants for ages scurrying around underneath rocks, going about their business.


The show ‘Grass’ came from an image I had of movement on turf – how the enjoyable sensation of soft green blades against your skin might encourage you to move. It was inspired by my memories and collected memories of others about their favourite things in, on and around grass.

It quickly developed into a show about my fascination with bugs as well – so many insects dance! Bees ‘waggle’ to tell each other where pollen can be found and ants use dance to tell if they are from the same colony. We found that mini beasts could move in ways that we couldn’t even start to.


I wanted to celebrate these bugs, show them off and encourage children, adults, parents and grandparents to get outside and pay attention to what is beneath our feet.

We’ve performed Grass outdoors, in theatres, in parks, gardens, town squares and even cattle markets and we can’t wait to bring it to Greenwich as part of the festival. As well as the show, there’s a chance afterwards to explore some of our set that turn into sand and soil play-crates.


So, do you know how many hearts a worm has? If not, come along and find out!

See you there,

Moat Island is presented in association with Greenwich Dance
Monday 27 June – Friday 1 July, Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham 16:00 – 19:00

Explore the full Moat Island programme here

GDIF2016 – Deaf Men Dancing

We’re highlighting some of the companies and performances scheduled for this summer’s festival. First up is an introduction to Deaf Men Dancing and their show TEN, written by Deaf Men Dancing’s Choreographer and Director Mark Smith

Deaf Men Dancing is an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different styles of dance incorporating British Sign-Language into movement. The essence of my work is to use sign language as an inherent part of the creative process and integrate it into the movement vocabulary, rather than use it as a commentary to the performance.

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The ideas I developed for TEN, were inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George. I was also inspired by vaudeville & music hall acts.

When I was a kid, Charlie Chaplin was my idol. I grew up watching Chaplin’s films. The silent film format was accessible for me to watch because it was very visual and even had “subtitles” or just “titles” for me to read. That’s where I got the idea of getting the dancers to hold printed cards with text to the audience during the performance. While I was researching for TEN, I discovered that Chaplin was good friends with a deaf actor Granville “Red” Redmond, who appeared in Chaplin’s films. Chaplin admired the natural expressiveness of a deaf person using American Sign Language. Chaplin’s interest in Deaf Culture gave me the idea to incorporate a deaf awareness course into TEN but in the form of Ten Commandments.


In the 60s, Gilbert & George famously created a live-art performance called Singing Sculpture where they stood on a table for eight hours. Gilbert held leather gloves & George held a walking stick. Their faces were painted in silver. They mimed to an old music hall song called Underneath The Arches – a song in which two tramps describe the pleasures of sleeping rough. It was a telling choice, harking back to prewar England and traditions of vaudeville, while also identifying with the fringes of society. Singing Sculpture gave me the idea for TEN. I’ve collaborated with designer Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed DMD’s previous outside performance, Alive!, and he’s designed a table for two dancers to perform on and deliver “speeches” to the audience in a form of Speaker’s Corner or Soapbox such as those that used to to be located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate. The table is also a kind of Pandora’s Box, containing surprise props for the dancers to use for the performance.

I collaborated with deaf musician and composer Sean Chandler to develop ten different tracks and I was lucky to have sound designer Syd Funnell onboard to provide the soundscape for TEN.

Deaf Men Dancing will perform TEN at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Times & location tbc.

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Follow Mark Smith on Twitter @DeafMenDancing1
Deaf Men Dancing on YouTube
Deaf Men Dancing website