DANCE ON LOCATION 019: Burnham-on-Sea Low Lighthouse, Somerset, UK

This rather soggy dance film takes place on the beach at Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset, England, in the vicinity of the beautiful nineteenth century Low Lighthouse.

The Low Lighthouse at Burnham-on-Sea is one of three lighthouses that the area has had over the years. Standing at 36 feet tall, this particular lighthouse was built in 1832 and is a Grade II Heritage listed structure, and what is quite interesting about the low lighthouse, is that it has nine legs to raise it above the sand. Although inactive between 1969 and 1993, this lighthouse is currently in operation.

DISCLAIMER: This film was recorded prior to COVID-19 restrictions being tightened in the UK in September 2020.

The low lighthouse is right on the beach, and you can walk there from the pier in about 10-15 minutes. There's also some great drone footage of the lighthouse, made by The Hampshire Flyer and available here.

Burnham-on-Sea itself is a gorgeous British seaside town in Somerset, England. Originally a small fishing village, the town expanded in the late 18th century as a popular tourist destination. The town also featured in a 2003 Top Gear episode, where host Jeremy Clarkson famously drove a Toyota Futura into the sea!

The lighthouse provided some interesting tangible elements to experiment within a dance film format - the sturdy wooden legs and the deep pool of water at its feet.

The Dance

There's something rather intriguing about my body position at the very beginning of this film. I feel like my torso is attempting to be as narrow as possible, whilst my arms reach out into the space around me. There's also a noticeable repeated motif of me balancing on one leg, the toes on my other foot pointed and searching upwards through the air, twisting around behind me as if to try and reach something in my peripheral vision.

I particularly enjoy the effect of me running into shot and splashing the camera with water. For me, this moment marks the beginning of a back-and-forth conversation between myself and the camera. It's as if the camera has its own choreography, and our dialogue continues when the camera resists focusing in the dance, instead looking towards the lighthouse, and then back at me in a new position on the beach.

My interaction with the water in this film renders it one of my favourites in the footSTEPS series so far. I like the effect of me kicking the water about, arms and legs reaching into the air, as if I am somehow reacting with the water down below, before trying to encourage it's subsequent evaporation up into the clouds. I particularly enjoy the muddiness of the water - that my feet periodically disappear underneath the silty liquid.

In the second half of the film there's lots of arms with angles - I bend my wrists repeatedly, circling my arms above my head as my feet take diagonal, snaking steps behind me. Then, the first puddle seemingly serves as just a taster to the second, deep pool of water. Moving into it, my steps both staccato and so tentative, but also strong and firm.

Finally, I really relished putting my whole weight onto the legs of the lighthouse so that I could reveal submerged body parts before concealing them beneath the water again. This film was very much about experimenting what might be possible in the water, and this idea of revealing and concealing over and over again is what seemed to draw my attention most when improvising under this gorgeous lighthouse.

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If you're looking for more dance films by the water, we've developed quite a penchant for them here at footSTEPS. Find more below:

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