Let The Mountains Lead You to Love
2003, 75 mins
‘An extraordinary work from the outset. Charlotte Vincent’s multi-tasking vision is fresh and engaging, the dialogue tightly effective, and the dance element elastically watchable’ Independent on Sunday
Set in a white landscape, strewn with autumn leaves and 12 tall trees, Let The Mountains Lead You to Love is a rich and playful look at love in its various forms, full of vitality, innocence and a healthy dose of cynicism. Releasing six extraordinary performers from the restrictions of the city to indulge in the confusions of their sexuality, the puzzles of attraction and the joys of fake folk-dancing, Let The Mountains Lead You to Love brings together performers from Austria, Poland and the UK. Funny, touching and achingly honest Let The Mountains Lead You to Love reveals the unspoken dreams, daring aspirations and deep regrets of everyone involved.
Funded by the Arts Council England, Sheffield City Arts and The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Co-commissioned by Sheffield Theatres, Danceworks UK, Hall for Cornwall (in association with Dance Agency Cornwall) and Arnolfini.
To order a DVD copy, please contact the VDT office.
I spent my early childhood playing in the woods across the fields at the back of the house where I grew up, with my invisible friend Jackie. The summers were filled with damson trees and gooseberry bushes, rabbits, foxes and cows at the gate. We would head off to climb trees, paddle in the stream and flatten the long grass into little dwellings and we would play and chat for hours until it got dark.
As a teenager, when my parents had separated and we had moved away, I revisited the fields at the back of a house, which was no longer mine, to sit on the style, try to conjure up Jackie and to cry.
As an adult I dream of this place; a universe where I can think freely, a space where I can share and shape things, a place to play. I call this place a theatre. Perhaps you are my new invisible friends. I think that I am trying to tell you something about love and loneliness, about transformation and change.
I hope that Let the Mountains Lead You to Love rekindles a memory in you that may have shaped who you are and what you have become. And I would like to dedicate this work to the men in our lives who allow us, as women, to be free.
Reviews / Articles
‘The dump, the field, the mountain top – a place in which new social relations, new combinations of things are possible… a space where activities which could not be done elsewhere become possible. A magical space whose contents and events – dares, fights, love affairs, boredoms actions- continue to have consequences in the world beyond its borders: changing everyone that went there’ Tim Etchells, A Split Second of Paradise
‘A traveller by my faith. You have great reason to be sad. I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men’s; then to have seen much and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands…I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad – and travel for it too.’ As You Like It, William Shakespeare
In November 2001, I spent a month in Linz, Austria, making a new work in a small town with x.IDA Dance Company. Let The Mountains Lead You To Love is response to my time spent there, an antidote to Drop Dead Gorgeous, a play on the pastoral, a new look at love.
Linz is Hitler’s home town, but they keep that quiet, focusing instead on the clean air and clean living that Austria is so proud of. Whilst I was there, I took a 5 hour train journey west to Feldkirch with the company, for a bizarre gig in the mountains where the scenery is truly awe inspiring. Snow capped mountains, deep forests edging the towns, rivers gushing through the icy valleys, and air that makes your skin go pink, and your lungs ache with health. Being displaced amongst such beauty makes your heart sing and your body negate the stresses of urban existence. This journey set me thinking about the pastoral tradition in literature, specifically Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and the notion of finding solace in the country, when all has gone sour in the city. So re-reading and being informed by this text, and set in a landscape strewn with Autumn leaves, Let The Mountains Lead You To Love looks at notions of perfection. Coming from the city (court) to the country, the piece creates a notion of an ideal world and introduce themes and characters to it which, whilst acknowledging the beauty of the fantasy, highlight and mock the ideal as impossible.
Released from the restrictions of the city, the performers in this piece crave the simplicity of pastoral life, but return again and again to the chaotic and destructive world of human conduct, embracing the fears of inadequacy, the brutality inherent in relationships, the ritualised humiliation of love, the confusion of sexuality, the lost roles of machismo and femininity. Actions trigger emotional memories, people fail to live up to their own self image, the young and the beautiful triumph, feminists have affairs and hurt other women, new men lie and cheat, just like they always have.
The country instead becomes a place where the inevitability of human imperfection shines through, a place where the mysteries of sexual attraction are explored, the inherent violence in relationships is uncovered, the dramatic significance of the every day gesture is exposed. Let The Mountains…explores the idea of pastoral as a space to play out and challenge the orthodoxies, the rules and separations through which, and in which, we live our daily lives.
‘Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives. I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen, more clamorous than a parrot against rain, more new fangled than an ape, more giddy in my desires than a monkey, I will weep for nothing and I will do that when you are disposed to be merry. I will laugh like a hyen and that when you are inclined to sleep.’ As You Like It, William Shakespeare
If ‘Love is merely a madness’, Let The Mountains Lead You to Love explores the many different kinds of love (platonic, lustful, forbidden, sensual, animal, jealous, divine, innocent, romantic and cynical) and the moral and physical urges that get us in and out of sexual trouble.
As a way to express joy and freedom of the natural world, the work takes a deeper look at the folk music and dance that has been creeping into VDT’s last two productions; the Austrian and Polish and English traditions of the cast, combining to create a dance language full of vitality and innocence. But as individuals become ciphers for various human compulsions, the mounting crescendo of violence, darkness and confusion becomes a threat to autonomy. People look in vain for quiet corners to experience quiet moments of tenderness, but the group pull has a grip and as the ideal of harmony shatters and the composition of the piece tears into splintered and fragmented short sequences, the folk convention becomes a ritualised and stifling form of restraint.
‘Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends, You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal, or what we imagine of it.’ Cesare Pavese
Austria is cleaner than any place I have been to, but the human behaviour is just as dirty.
‘Everywhere was deep and silent snow. Great snow-eaves weighed down the broad roofed Tyrolese houses that were sunk to the window sashes with snow…They came forth at last in a little high table land of snow like the heart petals of an open rose…In front was a valley shut in under the sky and at the end, like a navel to the earth, a white folded wall and two peaks glimmering in the late light. ’ Women in Love DH Lawrence
Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.
Wallace Stevens, Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour