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“Affection, uniqueness and curiosity.”

Emily Alden shares her thoughts about working at the Kneehigh barns to develop her new show, In My Head. Rehearsal images by Steve Tanner.

During the first half of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time working at The Kneehigh Barns to research a new performance work, In My Head. This, along with an invitation from the company to share the work during my creative process as part of Kneehigh Presents has provided a physical home, the right place to discover and share In My Head as it takes its first steps in front of an audience.

I’ve always known The Barns to be a special place. When I first moved here over 10 years ago anytime I heard them mentioned it was always with affection, uniqueness and curiosity.

Inviting collaborators to work with me there has been a really special experience in many ways. The rehearsals were a microcosm of what living and working in Cornwall is like for me as an artist; inspired by beauty, a little mystery hanging in the air, rugged and hardy, bursting with creativity with a homely touch.

The Barns are a well-loved and well-used space. They breathe care and respect but are not precious. They invite risk and their practical nature enables you to get things done. I drew with chalk on the chalkboard…and then on the wooden floor, we needed to record sound through water so we walked down to the beach…where it rained (Cornwall in January!), so we dried off in front of the fire. We talked and tested how and why I should dance and walked along the cliffs to reflect, we were hungry so we ate and talked around the kitchen table. Its remoteness gave us permission to hit pause from the day to day whirrings of life and soak up the artistic work into our bones. The Barns for me felt like a place with no expectation to make or create anything specific. They gave us space to play and follow our instinct. All of this unequivocally inspired the work.

As an artist, over the past few years, I’ve been refreshing the way I want to work; travelling in Europe, learning new dance techniques, seeing new work in new venues. To then come back home to make In My Head at The Barns and share it as part of Kneehigh Presents has inspired me and an incredible team to work with care and a charged focus to drive the project forward. It has given the work a tangible and viable way to take its first steps into the world to engage with artists, audiences and a homegrown community, which is an extraordinary thing.

To read more about the project www.emilyalden.com.

In My Head is being created with the support of Arts Council England through the Developing Your Creative Practice programme and a Project Grant, Hall For Cornwall where Emily is an Associate Artist and AMATA (Falmouth University) where Emily is a Lecturer on the Dance and Choreography Course.