top of page
PROVERB     (2006)

Created for
Richard Alston Dance Company



Steve Reich, Proverb


Kate Elliott


Peter Todd


15 minutes

Originally danced by a cast of

5 women 4 men 

Video Excerpt

Filmed and edited by The Place at Sadler's Wells. 

Produced by The Place.

The Proverb of the title is a single line of text from Wittgenstein - ‘how small a thought it takes to fill a whole life’. In the Reich music the vocal style is influenced by the dissonances of medieval singing but the accompanying vibraphones give a sense of urgency which propels the voices forward. I found the music utterly inspiring in its minimalist richness and made what I think of as one of my 'architectural' dances', order upon order spilling into the space. The women repeatedly form an almost Martha Graham chorus weaving their way through the piece which pares down to an extended duet of mutual challenge, which like so many of my duets has strong hints of the inspiration of Balanchine's Agon. 

I made Proverb for Steve Reich’s seventieth birthday celebrations. We revived it in 2018 for my own seventieth birthday - it's one of a small number of dances which I feel are right at the heart of my work.

First performed at The Barbican on 28 September 2006.

Dance commissioned by barbicanbite06.

bottom of page