I loved you and I loved you
I’m no expert when it comes to contemporary dance — really, any sort of dance — but I can’t wait to see this production from award-winning choreographer Sally Marie and production company Sweetshop Revolution. It’s at the Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead next Friday, and there are still some tickets left.
I loved you and I loved you tells the story, in stunning dance, of Welsh composer Morfydd Owen. Never heard of her? No, neither had I — but that’s no surprise. Even though she was one of Wales’ most impressive composers, her music is rarely performed — and her death (on the kitchen table, with her husband performing an appendectomy) at just 26 cut her career all-too short. The performance is accompanied live by a score of her own works, though — so you get her music along with her story.
The trailer is what really won me over for this production. Check it out right here — and see if you can look away. There’s something unsettling about the clear gaze of the young woman dancing and looking straight at you — and the motion is so fluid and engaging. Gorgeous.
I was lucky enough to talk recently with Sally Marie — the choreographer and driving force behind the piece — and the stories behind not only Morffyd Owen’s life but the making of the piece itself make it even more fascinating. Morfyyd Owen married psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, one of Sigmund Freud’s closest associates, but was deeply in love with her closest friend, Elliot Crawshay-Williams, who worked with Winston Churchill. Her friends included some fairly remarkable people — D H Lawrence, Ezra Pound, that sort of circle.
Sally Marie told me how learning about this amazing true story was “like falling into a film” — and that what started out as a duet turned into a trio once she read letters from Owen to Crawshay-Williams that she found in the National Library of Wales. The story then became the tensions and relationships between the three of them — as well as the beauty and strength of the music itself.
Sally Marie and pianist Brian Ellsbury also found a previously unknown work of Owen’s, tucked into the back of book, and visited Owen’s house in Wales. Sally Marie told me how intuitive the process felt, almost as if she was being guided to tell the story — and that she feels a huge responsibility to tell it well.
The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead might seem like an unlikely place to check out the best in contemporary dance — but you’d be surprised. There are some fantastic dance pieces that come through there, often for just one night, and it’s such a lovely intimate little theatre that you almost feel like you can reach out and touch the dancers. (Don’t though — they don’t like it.) Worth keeping an eye on their website, for sure. It’s ridiculously reasonable, too — I loved you and I loved you is just £12 for a full-price ticket.
I’m so looking forward to extending my contemporary dance experience (watching, not dancing — obvs) there on Feb 5 — and bracing myself for an emotional time with the story. See you there?