DANCE ON LOCATION 014: St. Catherine's Church, England, UK

In the glorious summer sunshine, I meander around the buildings that make up St. Catherine's - a 19th Century Chapel in Hoarwithy, Herefordshire in the UK.

In the unassuming village of Hoarwithy in Herefordshire, is St. Catherine's Church. Built as a chapel in 1840, the building was expanded in 1854 by the then vicar of the parish, Prebendary William Poole, and designed by J.P. Sneddon.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the church was not open for visitors to look inside, but we were able to explore the outdoor elements of the building.

The church's exterior features old wooden doors with elegant iron swirls sprawling across them, and heavenly faces carved into the stone of some of the walls. Down the side of the building are colourful stained glass windows in impeccable condition, and the church's entrance is brought to life with carved stone pillars and an intricate mosaic floor. St. Catherine's looked to me like a place out of sync with it's surroundings. With these unique features, it's almost like a little bit of Italy in the middle of the Herefordshire countryside.

The surrounding county of Herefordshire comprises of various market towns and The Wye Valley, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty that runs alongside the River Wye, where you can hire canoes and go for walks in the stunning countryside. Definitely ample inspiration for one of our short dance films.

The Dance

I particularly enjoy how the building slowly reveals itself in this film - beginning at a simple wooden door and then exploring how the exterior of St. Catherine's becomes more and more detailed and alluring.

We've started quite a few of these films with a focus on my face. In smaller frames, I've found it quite challenging to vary the movement - a very tight focus on one part of the body is quite restricting - but I'm pleased that I've managed to keep switching up the movement so far. In this film, I instinctively went for a movement which involved placing my hands either side of my face, and then shifting them and my shoulders from side to side.

Looking back, as a site, St. Catherine's Church essentially provided a series of outdoor rooms to play in. There are partial walls and pillars which allows you to see from one 'room' into the next, giving you a sneaky look at what is to come.

I love the reveal of the first porch area (i.e. the first part of the building that is under cover... I'm not sure the 19th century builders would refer to it as a 'porch', but that's what I'm going with!) I immediately began circling my hands around me to echo the circular patterns on the mosaic floor. I return to moving in various circular patterns throughout the film, as I kept seeing more and more circles present in the building.

There's something slightly eerie about my creeping alongside the building as I move from that first porch area to the next. I pause at moments, allowing you to catch up with me. Along the wall, I use my hands to direct your attention to some of the really exquisite details of the building. I really wanted to point out some of these charming details, such as the small carved heads you see in the picture above.

A favourite moment of mine, sees my hands traversing across my torso as the camera glimpses through two pillars. It is as if I am smoothing my dress down, or perhaps interacting with some invisible force around my body. As I turn around, you can see the sunshine streaming through the archways, and see the gorgeous green landscape beyond them.

I particularly enjoy the ending of this film - after a frenzied moment of twists and turns, hands playing in the dappled light from above, I simply sit down, crossing one leg over the other as if nothing had happened. It's as if the dance was all a dream, thought up from the comfort of a wooden church pew as I look out towards the Herefordshire countryside.

Intrigued by my dance films in gorgeous buildings other historic sites? The following posts might be for you:

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