Over the course of the summer of 2021, as part of summer season LIFT LOVES LONDON, artists Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari, with Amy Pitt and Lewis Gibson, spoke to people in the parks of London about their dogs. The recorded conversations were mixed with the profoundly beautiful music of composer Lewis Gibson, to create Dog Ballet Solo, a soundscape to watch dogs play by.
Dog Ballet launched with an in-person collective listening experience and dog minigolf at Alfred’s Meadow in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Dog Ballet Solo was made available for free online for anyone to listen to in their own local park to transform the everyday act of dog walking into something poetic and playful.
The podcast is no longer available, but a film was created (and presented as part of the British Council China programme in October 2021). Watch it below.
"In theatre you're constantly trying to transform the space, so you can watch the space come alive. But what’s so exciting about this sort of work is you're actually outside in the world, so how can you transform these everyday amazing acts that people just take for granted? Can we re-frame them so you can take time out and consider them?"— Nigel Barrett
"We’ve got more and more interested in working with community participants, which is where Dog Ballet has come from. Which is the extreme end of that where there isn’t actually a scripted performance. People are just coming in and doing what they normally do and you're contextualising in a way that makes it into a piece of art."— Louise Mari
Mini golf for dogs
Nigel Barrett; Louise Mari
— Dramaturg, writer, theatre-maker and theatre revolutionary
— Dog Ballet
Dramaturg, writer, theatre-maker and theatre revolutionary
Nigel Barrett; Louise Mari
Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari make wild, bold, visual performance for people who don’t really like theatre and unusual theatrical experiences for those who do. They create work both for, and with, children and adults – in traditional theatres and studios, outdoors and in found spaces. They have been commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Tate Britain, the ICA, Museum of London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, National Theatre Studio, The Science Museum, Cambridge Junction, New Wolsey Ipswich, Torquay Wavelength Festival, Shoreditch Town Hall, Unicorn Theatre and National Theatre Wales. They met as members of pioneering cult performance collective shunt, and together ran the radical arts club and bar ‘the shunt lounge’ under London Bridge station. They received the FringeReview Outstanding Theatre Award for ‘The One Man Show’ and won the Samuel Beckett Award with ‘The Body’ at the Barbican.
Dog Ballet was presented by LIFT as part of our LIFT LOVES LONDON summer season of art to recharge the city and renew London, and by Artsadmin as part of their What Shall We Build Here festival of art, climate and community.
Supported by ACT (Art, Climate, Transition) through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, Arts Council England, Here For Culture and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The film, commissioned by the British Council, was shot and edited by Paul Cochrane, with music by Lewis Gibson.
Photography by Christa Holka, Matthew Kinani and Paul Cochrane.