Siobhan Davies

Dance has within itself an intelligence that highlights human thinking and activity in a very particular form

Siobhan Davies joined Cape Farewell’s 2005 Art/Science expedition, battling temperatures of -30°C just north of the 79th parallel. Accustomed through her profession to using her body expressively, she found expression in the sub-zero temperatures of the High Arctic severely limited in nature and range. Her attention centred on her bones, skin, breath; the fragility of her material body versus the effort and basic purpose behind her every movement.

Back home in London Siobhan quickly formed the idea for a work that would embody some of the primal emotions and rational thoughts the journey had evoked for her. Working with fashion designer Jonathan Saunders, she created a projection, Endangered Species, in which a small, semi-human figure dances gracefully inside a museum display case, her movements exaggerated by a costume of long bending rods that increase in number as her dance progresses. While at first they liberate her by extending the boundaries of her body, the many rods eventually restrict and finally extinguish her small life form. The work was presented in Cape Farewell’s Art & Climate Change exhibition, and also toured with the Envisioning Change exhibition to Oslo, Brussels, Monaco and Chicago.

Siobhan Davies featured in Cape Farewell’s film Art from the Arctic, and the Burning Ice book. She joined Cape Farewell at events including the Rome Film Festival and her works toured internationally with our Art & Climate Change exhibition.

“The beauty, sheer physical beauty, is something that has imprinted itself upon me. But it is a skin over something far more ferocious”

Siobhan Davies, 2005


Siobhan Davies studied at London Contemporary Dance School, and became a Leading dancer and choreographer for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, making her first piece, Relay, in 1972. During the 1970s she worked for both Richard Alston and Ian Spink as well as on projects such as The Seven Deadly Sins for English National Opera. In 1980 she formed Siobhan Davies and Dancers, which later joined forces with the Ian Spink Group and Richard Alston and Dancers to form Second Stride. From 1988 to 1993 she was Associate Choreographer for Rambert Dance Company.

She founded Siobhan Davies Dance Company in 1988, on her return from a year in America on a Fulbright Arts Fellowship, and has made 22 works for the company. In 1999 she made A Stranger’s Taste for The Royal Ballet, as part of the opening celebrations for the refurbished Royal Opera House. She also made 13 Different Keys in collaboration with classical and contemporary dancers, produced by Artangel at the Atlantis Gallery, London. Much of her work has been filmed for television including White Man Sleeps, Wyoming, White Bird Featherless, The Art of Touch and 13 Different Keys.

Siobhan Davies and Siobhan Davies Dance have been recognised by numerous awards, including four Digital Dance Awards, the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance (1993 for Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, 1996 for The Art of Touch), and overall winner of the Prudential Award for the Arts (1996), following six previous nominations. The Art of Touch also won the 1996 Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Production and Wild Air won a South Bank Show Award in 2000.

In 2001 Siobhan began to lay the foundations for a new way of working. Fuelled by the desire to move away from traditional theatrical productions, she began researching different spaces for dance and engaging in extensive periods of research with the Company dancers. She commissioned artists from different disciplines and worked experimentally with sound as well as with music. This has resulted in two critically acclaimed works: Plants and Ghosts (2002) and Bird Song (2004).

From 1995 to 1997, Siobhan was Choreographer in Residence and Senior Research Fellow at the Roehampton Institute, London, and in 1996 she accepted an Honorary Fellowship of Trinity College of Music, London, in recognition of her creative work with music. In 1999 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Surrey and was named as one of six Creative Britons in 2000. She was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2002 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to dance and most recently become involved with the Foundation, Arts and Kids, becoming one of their Patrons.

In 2006 Siobhan Davies Studios were completed, the first permanent home for Siobhan Davies Dance.

About the 2005 Expedition
Art & Climate Change – exhibition
Art from the Arctic – film
Burning Ice – book

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