West Horsley Place
Throughout 2021 and 2022, choreographer Rosemary Lee has been developing an intergenerational piece focusing on the historic orchard at West Horsley Place.
“The orchard has such a still, timeless quality, I love it’s quiet wildness. I was drawn particularly to the human sized trees, so old now and past their best fruiting days but living through each season, and home to beautiful lichens and mosses. I imagined senior performers in contemplative partnership with these trees and equally imagined a throng of school children exploring the orchard with youthful energy.”Rosemary Lee
Working with six senior performers and over 60 nine year olds from Raleigh School, Rosemary has explored the physical relationships of performer and tree. Together they have found gestures and ways to lean into and rest against the tree. Very quickly a connection forms between human and tree. The idea that that our structure and physicality is shaped by the time we spent in trees struck Rosemary on reading these words from the biologist and writer Colin Tudge:
The reason we have such dextrous hands and whirling arms is that our ancestors spent 80 million years or so in the trees.”Colin Tudge ‘The Secret Life of Trees’
Following the workshops, Rosemary is now working with film maker Roswitha Chesher to create seven portraits. These will form a multi-screen video installation within the atmospheric West Horsley Place where visitors will experience the moving portraits that surround them.
Filming throughout the seasons has been both a challenge and a delight. The orchard transforms itself through Spring, Summer and Autumn.
“We got to know every branch, bud, robin and cowslip. We were struck by how everyone appreciated the trees and felt so at home and at peace in the orchard.”Rosemary Lee
Orchard Portraits will be exhibited at West Horsley Place from July – November 2023.
This project is part of Surrey Dance 21 and funded by Arts Council England.
Rosemary Lee has been making live dance works and films for over thirty years, often in response to a particular site or community. She has made works in the canopies of mature trees, across expansive tidal landscapes, and in central London’s green squares and her casts have ranged from one to over 250 performers. She works with performers of all ages, professionals and non- professionals. Her work is characterised by an interest in creating a moving portraiture of the performing individuals and communities she brings together, whilst also exploring and highlighting our relationship with our