Dance explores whether women touch their phones more than their partners

REAL-life text messages from three couples at various stages of their relationships will be the inspiration for dance duets performed for the first time at Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF).

Through inventive ballet and choreography, Replicas examines how communication is changing in the digital age at performances tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

“As a dancer, I’m interested in how this switch from communicating through conversations and body language to communicating through emojis and text messages is affecting our relationships.”

The performance by Jennifer Essex Dance, which has been commissioned by SIRF where it will premiere tomorrow (Friday) is as interactive as its social media subject matter.  Text messages, videos and photos will be sent to audiences, giving them an intimate perspective of the on-stage relationships.

Choreographer Canadian born Jennifer Essex, who lives in Middlesbrough, works as a dancer, dance-maker, and teacher on projects across the UK and internationally.

She is a part-time Senior Lecturer at Teesside University and her choreography for award-winning visual artist Corin Sworn was shown at the Whitechapel Gallery as part of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women.

For the past two years, she has been working on a new dance inspired by the text messages of real couples in love, a new work that fuses technology and dance, using an innovative website to send texts to the audience live during the performance.

She said: “Do you touch your phone more than your partner? Research by Communications regulator Ofcom suggests that Britons now spend more time using technology than they do sleeping. We spend an enormous amount of time communicating through our phones now, and the change has happened incredibly quickly.

“Work on Replicas began when three brave couples shared their text messages and emails with me for three months in 2014. Based only on these strange, intimate, and easy-to-misinterpret messages I set to work recreating their relationships as dance duets.

“As a dancer, I’m interested in how this switch from communicating through conversations and body language to communicating through emojis 🙂 and text messages is affecting our relationships.”

Replicas are performing the free dance shows tomorrow (Friday, August 5) at Stockton High Street Plinth at 2.30 to 3pm, 7.15pm to 7.45pm and Saturday, (August 6) at 3.15pm to 3.45pm and 6.15pm to 6.45pm.

On a specially built Replicas website audiences can not only read the original text messages used to create the dance, but also upload images they capture of the performance via Instagram or Twitter and play games which put a focus on how easily text messages can be misconstrued.

People can also upload the funniest, most romantic, strangest text message they’ve ever received for a chance to win tickets to an intimate show at a secret Middlesbrough location on August 15.

Jennifer has also developed routines for innovative projects including a stop motion film for French fashion house Hermes, an interactive video with the award-winning team from Studio Murmur, and a ‘choreophonic prosthetic’ with high-tech designer Di Mainstone.

She has also performed in the feature films Anna Karenina and Les Miserables and in adverts for Hermes and Honda as well as in works by choreographers including Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Liam Steel, and Luca Silvestrini.

She added: “Replicas examines questions at the forefront of our culture – how communication is changing in the digital age, what is to be lost and what can be gained by our new intimacy with technology and what is the role of touch in our time – can we be touched by technology?”

 

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