LED BY PHILIPPA DONNELLAN | NATIONAL PROJECT | SUMMER 2020
An invitation to create in dance, writing and film for people aged 50+
In July 2020, a host of romantics joined Philippa in exploring all of the joys and complexities of love letters – through conversation, through writing and through dance. It was a busy summer, as participants engaged in dance classes, coffee mornings and a film project – all via Zoom! In the face of such a new and unfamiliar means of engagement, the enthusiasm and commitment offered by those involved was incredible. Driven by participants’ own creativity and openness, Tuesday morning chats over cups of coffee quickly evolved into the LOVE LETTERS BLOG – a wonderful souvenir of Love Letters 2020 – showcasing all the creativity and dedication that went into this project.
Somewhere buried in a box in the attic, or at the back of a wardrobe, are old love letters. They’re notes from an old flame and cards from those you hold most dear. Battered and torn around the edges, they’re romantic, whimsical, funny, sexy and bittersweet.
They’re memories you treasure. You never could part with them.
Then again, maybe there are no letters. The box is empty. You threw them out as romantic tosh only fit for the bin. You lost them in the move. You never received a reply.
And what about that letter you should write, the things left unsaid that you always wished to say, but never quite summoned up the courage to put on paper or heaven forbid, to send.
Would you like to? Isn’t it time?
Drawing inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale Love in the Time of Cholera about two lovers who wrote to each other for many years, and from love letters either famously public or personally private, participants were invited to come together online to dance and share, to create choreography, to write a love letter – and to develop a series of short responses as films, sound recordings and writings.
LOVE LETTERS FILM | A LOVE LETTER TO LIFE
“I absolutely loved it. It was an amazing thing to have achieved.”
“I enjoyed the visuals and the music and the lovely windows into people’s homes and lives and
movements and of course the chat at the end. It was lovely to hear what everyone got out of
the project. Well done!”
“Thanks for the invitation to enjoy your project “A love Letter to Life.” Well done. It was so meaningful and inspiring , opening up so many avenues and
opportunities for all of us. It stirred a new creativity in me and I look forward to ‘Seeing Anew’ things I may have taken for granted.”
“An inspirational piece during these challenging times. Really does go to show what is possible when we allow the creative juices to flow.”
“Wonderfully expressive. Hypnotic almost and beautifully edited! Big congrats and well done.”
“Very relaxing to watch and listen.”
LOVE LETTERS BLOG
MESSAGES FROM PHILIPPA AND PARTICIPANTS.
LOVE LETTERS INTENSIVE
The following texts were developed during the Love Letters intensive, and inspired the ideas and
choreography for the final film A LOVE LETTER TO LIFE:
TIME TO DANCE | A behind the scenes look at some outtakes from A LOVE LETTER TO LIFE:
FROM PHILIPPA – Over the last week there’s been plenty of dance activity as LOVE LETTERS creative intensive got going. Over zoom, twelve intrepid people joined me and dancer/filmmaker Cathy Coughlan to explore a few thoughts and ideas on themes of love. First off was getting to grips with digital technology – hats off to everyone for crossing this frontier! Cathy was a mine of useful information as we explored camera angles and choreography, and film locations (a few unexpected surprises there as our homes offered up some dramatic settings). Although this remote working isn’t always easy, and certainly doesn’t bear comparison with our live social events, I think it’s going to be fantastic to have a record of people’s creativity and dancing, and to have documented some powerful experiences about life and love. Feel free if you still wish to send me a love letter to share. Even five years ago, I’m not sure that any of us would have thought this possible…least of all me as a technophobe! Well I’m glad to say there’s something positive in all this. Final coffee morning coming up and of course more dancing on Wednesday. Join us!
FROM DONNA – A visual poem created by Love Letter participant Donna Ansley:
Minds are like flowers; they open only when the time is right. – Stephen Richards
A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s like women too. – Miranda Kerr
I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds round my neck – Emma Goldman
Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same. – Helen Keller
Our Week 2 mystery poet has delivered again – scroll down to Week 2 to see the story in verse unfold further!
Meanwhile, another anonymous love letter has been received – read below…
FROM PHILIPPA – Lots of chat about kissing today! And about the power of touch and the human need to connect, physically, socially and emotionally. It was moving to hear a few stories about personal love letters; how valuable they are as a memento of past relationships from people who are no longer here, yet who are still treasured. As the coffee brewed, we scrolled through some iconic paintings (see below) of ‘the kiss’ – Klimt (fabulous), Magritte (spooky and a bit weird), Rodin (stunning and somehow so real), and Picasso (colourful, which woman is he kissing – there were a few!). We looked at some war time pics, and wondered whether a woman being kissed by the sailor was coerced ‘she wouldn’t let that happen now!’….hmm…perhaps. Someone asked if anyone remembered Aston Quay, Dublin on a late Friday night and all the people kissing each other goodnight – was that when the condom trains started? Anyone out there have any pics of that time and place? We also looked at more recent photos that were inspired by last week’s dance session when we explored ideas about touch and using gesture to create choreography for the camera. There was some topical and poignant imagery of people connecting either side of a window, of reaching out and touching hand to hand with glass between them. We shared plenty of comments on how something as simple as physical touch, for so long taken for granted, is now so distant… See you soon for more dancing and love stories via Zoom!
Thanks to Maura for letting us know about this film about Klimt’s paintings during WWII: Woman in Gold (2015)
Another classic painting, which Deirdre mentioned that I had missed off the list: The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton
Thanks to Katharin for sending in this Indian love painting: A Prince and his Mistress in an Embrace by Mughal
And this one too: The Love Letter by Johannes Vermeer
The first anonymous love letter has been received – clearly there’s a mystery poet among us!
And will never be forgotten
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE!
After you register, you will be sent a confirmation email with a link to click to join in each zoom session. Then you can pick and choose from the following sessions! JOIN ANYTIME!
WEEKLY DANCE CLASSES via ZOOM
Practise easy dance sequences, create choreography
DATES 15, 22, 29 July
DAY 5, 12, 19, 26 August
DAY 2 September
TIME 2.00pm – 3.30pm
COFFEE MORNINGS via ZOOM
Bring a cup of coffee and chat about love and other things…
DATES 14, 28 July + 11, 25 August
TIME 11.00am – 12.00 midday
SEND LOVE LETTERS
Send a letter to someone you love, whoever they are or wherever they may be – anytime!
TO TAKE PART YOU WILL NEED:
– Laptop, computer, tablet or phone with internet access for Zoom
– Personal email address
– Handheld device with option to record video and audio such as a mobile phone, video camera
– A safe space to dance at home: a clear floor area of about 8 paces square – free of movable furniture and all other hard objects
– The best floor surfaces are carpet, lino or wood (Dancing on ceramic kitchen tiles or concrete is to be avoided)
– We will be on hand at set times to help advise with technical assistance for ZOOM sessions and for filming