Stories With and Without Words


Dancers and musicians performing outdoors in park

Stories with and without words: An evening of telling, singing, playing and giving voice /image to originally created or retold short stories.

Versatile artists of the Artship Ensemble will often cross disciplines for the sake of telling or embodying a simple story. Artship's idiosyncratic style has been described by critics in Europe as being at the nexus of dance, theater, cinema and ‘zen’. Rachel Howard, Dance critic of San Francisco Chronicle, describes Artship's work as, “Actors-dancers bring lost art of physical storytelling to life.”

Artship Ensemble's most recent performance Tarantella, Tarantula opened in San Francisco at ODC Theater last fall and has toured in 2007 including Prague Fringe Festival in May. Tarantella, Tarantula is a contemporary exploration of dance, music and story telling that speaks of continuity and passionate age old practices not alien to our modern needs.

Little text as invisible structure for dance

This came to me after witnessing a beginning of someone's process at our rehearsal. It is a story, which is secret structure of a dance, it gives dancer motivation and meaning for her movement. The others or the audience my never know it.


Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived at the edge of an ancient forest.

One day she discovered that she could spin invisible gold out of her heart.

It surprised her, and even frightened her.

Although the gold is invisible to most people, when she spun it she felt that she had invisible helpers.

Whenever she had an urge to spin it, her helpers began to appear and be drawn to her.

First she did not know how many of them there were.

But slowly, as years went on, she realized that their number was always five.

Whenever there was trouble with her family, a neighbor, or people from her city, she would begin to spin, and her helpers would appear.

Aruniel had a heart of silver as shiny as a mirror, so the little girl could always see what was bothering her. He sang like a bird.

Sveteniele had a heart of copper, warmly transmitting the finest electricity, which she did not resist but let flow into her. Her song was silent.

Armela had a heart of purest dew. She nourished the gold with softness and goodness. Her song was like a talkative brook.

Orelion was all of a circle, dark and cozy. His voice was like a gong.

Dandilion had a diamond in her being, but her heart was of pure soft charcoal, ever ready to burn so the spinning could take place.

One day the little girl's whole country fell into great darkness, so even the few people who could see her spinning at some happier times could only see her enveloped in darkness.

She did not know why suddenly she was compelled to spin almost all the time.

Her people began to accuse her of being impractical, a dreamer.

They even threatened not to feed her as her work seemed of no use to them.

But she kept working, and reduced circumstances bothered her less then her dedication to spin as much invisible gold thread as possible.

She responded as if in the dark, even without knowing the circumstances of the difficulties, and even if cries for help were muffled and silent.

Wide awake, with eyes wide open, she listened and helped women and people nobody wanted to hear.

Although she looked so young and ageless she was in reality an old crone, always tuning in to those in need.

Drowning sailors call her Stella Maris, Madonna of the Sea. Chinese call her Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy. But in reality she is a little girl, as human as you and I.

Story by Slobodan Dan Paich
Dancer spinning

Photograph by John Hobson of Sally Greaves-Lord doing a Tibetan turning exercise, coat designed by Azzedine Alaia