How can dance efficiency be sustainable?

Phrases by Hannah Draper.

The black and crimson riso-printed posters for Burnt Out are hanging – Penny Chivas’ hand clasped over her mouth with the opposite arm stretched overhead – a name for assist, a sign of hazard, and a gesture of safety from inhaling noxious air. Created in collaboration with photographer Brian Hartley, the hand means of riso-printing created a distinct end in every print.

This tailor-made strategy bleeds by into the broader plan for the 2023 sustainable Scottish tour and ethos of Burnt Out. Created in 2021, Burnt Out is a solo dance theatre piece made and carried out by Penny Chivas, instigated after the devastating Australian wildfires in 2019-2020. Three years on, Penny is touring the present in Scotland after a profitable Fringe run final August. Earlier than this, the work will be performed at Dance Metropolis in Newcastle after the organisation’s continued help of the work by residences and rehearsal area and a work-in-progress sharing.

The tour has been organised with Katy Dye as Sustainability Advisor and with Sheena Miller from the Rural Touring Company. Operating since 2017, the organisation helps firms in Scotland tour work to rural areas in Scotland. The organisation shaped to fill a necessity to assist artists convey work to rural areas and convey prime quality touring work to underserved areas.

Burnt Out would be the first manufacturing to tour on public transport solely, bringing with it a bunch of recent logistical concerns for the group. Penny will journey by prepare and ferry throughout rural Scotland, together with the Orkney islands, supported by the Artistic Scotland Touring Funding for Theatre and Dance. I spoke to Penny and the manufacturing group about organising Burnt Out’s sustainable Scottish tour later this yr.

Area and Place

Sheena spoke with me in regards to the frequent false impression of needing completely different performances for various areas, and the concept of rural versus city audiences. She says that “something you possibly can carry out in a central belt you possibly can carry out in a rural space” whereas emphasising the sturdy reference to stay efficiency in rural Scotland given the lengthy historical past of stay music traditions. What’s completely different, Sheena tells me, is the way you join with rural audiences in comparison with within the metropolis, and the extra concerns.

Whereas the touring group can be travelling on public transport, audiences may also be inspired to journey on this manner. In rural areas this can be tougher with elements just like the lengthy, darkish nights in Scotland in November, which means some performances can be within the afternoon as an alternative of the night, whereas buffer time has been added in round ferry journeys to permit for the not unlikely probability of poor climate circumstances.

We’ve labored in a manner that challenges the affect of consumerism…

Inside this planning, Sustainability Advisor Katy tells me that, “greener methods of working can exclude folks of various talents with out considering of the wants of all of the people participating. In order a group we’ve got tried to consider learn how to work sustainably in an inclusive manner.” Working with the Theatre Inexperienced Ebook, Julie’s Bicycle, and contemplating The Equity for a Green New Deal manifesto has helped the group craft a holistic strategy to the tour, whereas working with venues to assist them meet these sustainability objectives.

Whereas relationship to put has been essential in contemplating tour places, how folks relate to their environments can be vastly related for a way Burnt Out’s subject material of Australian coal has grow to be a direct mirror to a narrative and dialogue about Scottish oil. After final summer time’s document temperatures in areas throughout the UK, and the growing have to reckon with our nations’ fossil gasoline histories and persevering with industries, evidently Burnt Out’s message is turning into extra, not much less, related over time.


Sustainability calls for the necessity for time – one thing which feels counter-intuitive within the race towards the quickening modifications in our local weather. Time for making choices that inform longer-working processes. Making considering sustainably transcend a ‘tick the field’ train. 

Katy highlights: “it has been fascinating to consider sustainability as one other artistic alternative. How can the ethos of working sustainably improve the content material/aesthetic and viewers expertise of the efficiency? On this manner working sustainably doesn’t really feel like a limitation, however opens up a brand new and refreshing manner of working which challenges the affect of our disposable/throw away tradition of consumerism and extra.”

Whereas Burnt Out was initially made as a black field efficiency, it is going to now be carried out in a spread of venues together with village halls, solely utilizing the technical tools already in these venues. Though this may be argued as a limitation, it really challenges concepts of how theatre can and ought to be introduced and seen.

Penny describes the necessity for folks to have an opportunity to make use of and utilise the time we’ve got now to contemplate alternative ways of dwelling and learn how to deal with this disaster in our communities earlier than we’re in a scenario of getting to reply, reasonably than replicate.


‘The place is the common particular person’s emotional feeling across the local weather disaster?’

This query is a guiding thought for Penny by this tour. Pre-show workshops and post-show discussions have been designed to interact with native folks’s tales and the way communities are experiencing the local weather disaster, similar to visible artists and native nature stroll leaders. The workshops will deal with inclusive motion practices, breathwork and methods of coping with local weather anxiousness. The tour mannequin prioritises an engaged and embodied interplay with audiences, enabling an trade of concepts and dealing strategies to discover how persons are working and exploring these points, each by direct motion and methods of experiencing pleasure and delight in nature.

Sustainability is a large buzz phrase proper now, with many claims to it falling flat upon inspection. Nonetheless, the Burnt Out group is dedicated to interrogating what sustainability means by way of broader conversations round how the work is skilled. By permitting audiences the area and time to expertise and discover feelings of upset and anger across the local weather disaster earlier than, after, and throughout the present there may be an effort to extend and guarantee a mutual significant engagement between the efficiency group and communities, working in the direction of what Katy recognized as “one unified voice for our actions to be efficient.”

Katy hopes that these practices grow to be normalised: “I’d prefer to see much less expectations placed on people to make inexperienced choices which can financially punish them/put a variety of effort on them. We want legal guidelines to be made that make it an incentive for us as makers/residents to follow our work sustainably and stay extra sustainable lives.

Picture by Lorna Sim.

This tour of Burnt Out might and ought to be a mannequin for different small touring firms, becoming a member of a rising variety of artists in Scotland similar to Hazel Darwin Clements’ Maya and the Whale (toured on two bikes with panniers) which are committing to new methods of delivering theatre and proving there’s a completely different manner of doing issues which must occur now and for the long run.

Burnt Out is being carried out at Dance Metropolis, Newcastle on 16 June 2023. Ebook here. Dates for the Scottish tour tbc.