Through movement and poetry, this dance solo embodies the lack of physical access at a studio with 47 stairs on Lekwungen land. Each time the dancer takes a step, the next part of the poem is voiced. The video was filmed before the pandemic and is audio described and captioned. The project engages in ongoing dialogue around creating collective access in dance.
On this page:
- Audio description pre-show notes audio player
- Embedded video with audio description and closed captions
- Transcript of audio description pre-show notes
- Descriptive transcript of video
Audio description pre-show notes audio player:
Video with audio description and closed captions:
(To increase caption size, click on settings on the video.)
Transcript of audio description pre-show notes:
Hi everyone. Welcome to the pre show notes for 47 Steps.
These notes and the dance description were written by Joanne Cuffe, with consultation from Amy Amantea, Linda Bartram, and Steph Kirkland.
The pre show notes are voiced by Amy Amantea.
A dance studio is set up like a stage area. The rectangular room is on the fourth floor of a heritage building downtown.
The dance studio is a bright loft space with high ceilings and painted brick walls.
The audience is seated in a semicircle.
In the centre of the back wall is an open door with a red exit sign above it.
An assortment of potted plants rests on the window ledges along the side wall.
In 47 Steps, the focal point is one dancer, who embodies contexts about the location, through movement and poetry.
The dancer, Joanne, is a white non-binary person who uses singular they pronouns. Joanne is in their 30s and has shoulder-length brown hair that is gathered in a low loop.
Joanne’s outfit matches different parts of the stark room. Their mottled shirt colours are similar to the white and red of the exit sign.
Joanne wears black capri pants and their pale bare feet stand out on the black vinyl floor.
The dancer begins over to the left, then mostly travels in a line in front of us from left to right, except for retreating towards the back twice. At different moments, the dancer faces each of the four walls. The piece ends by the doorway, which leads to a stairwell.
Over the course of the performance the dancer takes a total of 47 steps. For the first 10 steps, and the last 8 steps, each time their foot lands on the floor a number is called out.
Although there is only one dancer, the piece is about collective access. There are multiple people involved in voicing a poem, which unfolds over the 47 steps.
When a new line of the poem is voiced, that means the dancer has taken one step. The poem also helps the dancer remember what comes next.
Woven between the poem is a dance description, which is voiced by Joanne Cuffe.
End of pre show transcript.
Descriptive transcript of video:
There are three aspects to the video transcript: the audio description is noted as AD; Kevin counts out steps at the beginning and end; and there is a poem voiced by multiple people, which is noted by the name of the speaker.
Start of transcript.
47 Steps, by Joanne Cuffe.
AD: The dancer, Joanne, stands in front of the windows. They take a step.
Lindsay: i notice the floor.
AD: Face tilts up. One arm glides back, the other hand scoops forwards.
Lindsay: i notice the Lkwungen land.
AD: Fingers drape like a waterfall.
Lindsay: i notice the backdrop,
AD: Palms pulse up. Turning.
Lindsay: There are plants, and windows.
AD: Hands branch up, then frame down.
AD: Swiveling to face us.
Lea: i notice your ankles,
Lea: and your eyelashes,
and the curiosity behind your ear.
i notice a rectangle.
AD: Fingers trace the door frame from a distance.
Lea: i notice an opening,
and where the earth gives way
and folds upon itself.
where rectangles of trees tumble.
AD: Sinking to floor at the doorway. Slithering away from it then standing up.
there were 47…
…who could not make it.
AD: Arms gather.
Kevin: 47 dancers…
…with no way in.
AD: Facing front.
A zigzag of elbows and wrists creates two stairs, that then smooth into a diagonal ramp.
Hands rise together from the floor like an elevator, then separate at the hairline like a door.
Kevin: 47 friends, who i dance with, who are wheelchair users.
AD: Like a wave tumbling; The tide rolls in towards our toes.
Seated, the dancer’s hands float up, tall arms and flexed wrists.
AD: Palms, push down, through sand, to the floor.
Tiffany: each time i climb up the 47 steps,
AD: Hands ascend diagonally like footsteps up stairs.
Tiffany: my heart tumbles. and i feel like a traitor.
AD: Arms wilt. Retreating backwards.
Tiffany: i can’t invite colleagues, and mentors, and peers, and crushes, to be here.
AD: Open arms circle in.
Tiffany: in the dance communities i belong to, there are…
…dancers who are Indigenous people who are wheelchair users,
…and dancers who are people of colour who use mobility tools,
…and dancers who are refugees and newcomers who experience disability,
…and dancers who are Elders and older adults and youth for whom stairs are a barrier,
…and dancers who are non-binary and two-spirit who are neither ladies or gentlemen.
AD: Face tilts up.
Hands are clasped above forehead, then wriggle downward like a fish out of water.
Now, a gale of arms: Firmly Up-Down. Uncrossing Right-Left.
Their nose swerves in a wind. Their shoulders swirl in a breeze.
Gusting an Elbow and Knee.
Right arm rises and circles out, like a long willow branch.
Palm pushes past throat, and drifts up diagonally, then swoops down.
A hurricane of four limbs in a turning leap.
And two giant, hesitant, steps to the doorway.
AD: Facing front.
AD: Palms meet floor, hands step up ladder.
AD: Arms tall with wrists flexed. Face tilts up.
AD: Facing the exit sign,
Right arm anchors, Left hand sinks.
Fingers flow forwards, Then arms glide back, palms spill out.
Scooping forwards, and fly back. Heart radiates up.
Palms push up, then a wide circle down, weaving a web.
Fingers toss up to the corners, then gentle down.
Right hand on sternum. Left knuckles flat on sacrum.
AD: Joanne steps toward the door.
AD: They step on the threshold. Pause. And step through the doorway.
dancer, writer, choreographer: Joanne Cuffe
poem voices: Lindsay Delaronde, Lea Collins, Kevin Yee-Chan, Tiffany Hannan, Claire Bruce
audio description written and voiced by Joanne Cuffe, with consultation from Amy Amantea, Linda Bartram, and Steph Kirkland
pre show notes voice: Amy Amantea
additional described dance consultants: Alice Sheppard, Danielle Peers, and Harmanie Rose Taylor
videographer: Lyle Almond
choreographic support: Kevin Yee-Chan, Denni Clement
Video recorded at Upstairs Dances at Raino Dance in the homeland of the Lekwungen People on December 7, 2019.
Video accessibility made possible by the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council.
This work by Joanne Cuffe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 International License.
End of transcript.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council.