by Anna Furse

When We Were Birds is a duet about the body ‘as memory’ – how when we re-embody past learnt movement the mind opens up to forgotten events of the past. It is about what makes us human, in the sense of how, in movement memory itself, selfhood and identity is stored. It overlaps personal memory with historical memory to explore, via the dancing body and its memory, how our sense of self is deeply tied into our embodied experience of the world.


The Project involves the close collaboration of Anna Furse and Esther Linley, who shared an intense childhood/adolescent history together as Royal Ballet Scholarship students in the 1960’s. As they reached their 60th birthdays this year, they reflect on and continue to discover, what lies buried and what can be ignited by a sound, a smell or even just looking into each other’s faces. “We both stopped performing many years ago. By putting ourselves physically into the picture now, we are also reactivating those trained performer-instincts and remembering ourselves as women who once did things that people watched.”

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Collaborators include Lucy Cash (video), Graeme Miller (Sound). The project is produced by Paula Van Hagen.

When We Were Birds will tour and work in collaboration with Live Collision in 2014.


The project is part of Goldsmiths’ new Centre of the Body, co-directed by Anna Furse who is Professor and Head of the Department of Theatre and Performance.

This performance premiered at the Cantieri Culturali Zisa, Palermo, July 2013.