Fallow Ground

Summer, 2017-18

Once, long ago, when time was an egg, before there was above and below, or before and behind, or deep or through or wide, there was a Song. Croggon, 2004, p. 90

Hello 2018. I find myself smiling shyly as I write here again. Ironically, these scribbling beginnings are far from lucid; the taste of words scratchy and unfamiliar. I feel acutely self-conscious in the act of writing reflectively. Out of practice, silence is shadowed safety. Like turning clods in soil dry and hard, I jab at syllables: turning, testing, mulching. The sentences don’t come easily. They are tough. The surface is dry: sparse, empty, dark. I persist, because the time for writing to Song has come. I hear the strains of a poignant melody whistle like a wind across the flat patch of dirt.

The soil is fertile as a result of time left as fallow ground. The minerals leached from the dirt have had time to be restored. Since Remnant Dance artists embarked on our agreement to grow good, arty crops in our patch of the world, we have generated some wonderful kinds of produce: some things flowering with unexpected fragrances, others producing juicy fruits of unusual textures and colours. We have worked with other creative makers who have left their unique stamp on dirt; their seeded crops lush and beautiful at harvest. Some of the smallest leafy greens have been torn off, leaving stalks that subsequently withered and died. The leaves however, were added to other things, and like the burst of coriander in a dreamy egg hollandaise, made for different, unexpected outcomes, with each enhancing the other.

In the past year, remnant artists have turned to attend to other plots of land, growing a variety of crops in a variety of soils. As a collective, we returned again and again to care for our shared patch of dirt, lying fallow. At times we have been on hands and knees in mud, digging out weeds that have sprung up. At other times, we have tested the soil, lavishing with water, checking for signs of mineral rejuvenation. Mostly we have waited and watched. The land is now caked hard, though fertile deep beneath. It’s daunting to consider turning the soil. I persist, because the time for dancing to Song has come. I feel the breeze on my face: a sweet melody.

As we look to 2018, we don’t really know what new things will grow–or how they will be used once fully flourishing. We know it’s not time to abandon the field just because it has been exhausted through hard work and lays simply, at rest. We are seasonal makers. Our work is responsive to climate changes, the ground on which we dance, and what must be grown now to ensure the continued productivity of this patch of dirt we own together.

We persist because the time for Making to Song has come. We look to this New Year and see three seasons: creating new work, sharing existing work, and connecting through an annual (international) residency, as it springs up! We are subject to funding and all the usual constraints faced by performing arts’ collectives. We have invitations to tour dance work and are quietly excited to continue working with others also eager to get dirt under the nails as we seed new ideas. There is no rush. It’s merely time to break up the unplowed land, to get ready for planting a new crop: dancing to new music. We listen to wind, respond to season and trust in the Song that echoes within each one of us, from Once, long ago.

Katie lotus

Image of Katie Chown by Michael Founoulakis, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2012. Used with permission.


Croggon, A. (2004). The Riddle. Australia: Penguin Books.