From a distance we started playing spot the splint amongst the apples! An unexpected tree of splints nestled in the orchard. Leg and ankle splints gently hang next to hip replacement joints and a gadget to fix club feet, all moving in the breeze. All tell a certain story. The sheep wander over, nuzzling the bits in our wheelbarrow then wander away.
This morning Saffy is wearing my white arm splint, now known as “the one that looks like a cricketer would wear!” This splint is designed to keep my arm stretched long, not allowing my elbow to bend. The choreographic theme I give Saffy to start with is, moving with the restriction of her left arm, how can her right arm bend, move and make shapes to highlight the straighten left arm. As Saffy begins to move some sheep wander over maybe curious, maybe annoyed. Others carry on chomping grass.
Weaving in and out of the hanging splints, swinging on branches and echoing the movement of the hip joint dangling, Saffy begins to develop a relationship between her and the splint. Her splinted left arm enabled straight, skeletal movements, taking weight through her arm and into her shoulder blade – exploring the unexpected possibilities rather than the enforced restrictions. Continuing to soften her right side, her elbow bends and the echo of movement filters into discovering playful, hide and seek moments of dancing with the splint – allowing the splint to become a partner.
Sitting under the apple tree. Reaching to pick the splints, Saffy’s task is to move from her torso and shoulders, both arms above her head, soft and resonating the movement from further down. Encountering the splints hanging above, matching and echoing the dancing splints in the breeze.
The playful curiosity for today is about finding where the medical and organic worlds can collide, embracing the natural environments; the sheep in the background occasionally walking under the tree and interrupting helps this feeling!
4 dancing feet, 1 ankle splint, a couple of hip joints and a branch full of apples was our next task. The light-heartiness and entertaining value of what we could do here was intriguing, my left leg went into spasm and couldn’t stop shaking when it was in the air, taking this lead our other feet had a bit of a free for all! We echo the splint hanging off the branch, working with the hard, restricting plastic of the support, layering on top with subtle movements of our feet, and discovering moments of where the harsh use of medicine can blossom with suppleness.
Back outside the cowshed and in front of the massive barn door. We worked with the leg splint, this time I was looking at big movements off showing the splint, using its restrictions as positive way to develop choreography.
This leg splint is custom made and one of the NHS’ finest masterpieces! Saffy played with movement; her instructions were to continue the playful relationship of hiding and seeking the splint, developing a duet between her and the splint. However this task was finding weight bearing movements and larger shapes, a very different feeling to this mornings work in the orchard.