Chris Pavia

November 2020 - March 2021

Beyond The Waves is a collaboration between choreographer Chris Pavia, Watts Gallery Trust and DAiSY (Disability Arts in Surrey) with mentoring support and dance artists from Stopgap Dance Company.

In this residency, Chris is exploring the dynamics of energy and movement seen in the full and partial sculptures by G F Watts displayed at Watts Gallery. Chris's work is inspired by the power of natural forces such as water including film and photographic references of vivid waterfalls and horses galloping through waves.

This residency offers an insight into Chris's creative process while he choreographs and rehearses Beyond the Waves which will be exhibited at Watts Gallery and online this summer.

Chris first partnered with Watts Gallery Trust and DAiSY in 2019 on his solo work Captain's Duties, a response to the art of Victorian artist James Henry Pullen.

As a choreographer, Chris begins his process by collecting images and researching ideas that interest him. With guidance from DAiSY Producer Callum Graham, Chris started research on this project in 2019, curating a selection of images inspired by the sculpture collection at Watts Gallery and George Watts' sculpture including Physical Energy.

“I was mesmerised by all of the sculpture work that George Watts had done" Chris

Stimulated by the powerful nature and impressive energy of these sculptures, Chris began looking at elemental forces in the natural world: turbulent seas, fast running currents and the dynamism of horses. In summer 2020, Chris met with Tom Goodwin, Stopgap's Assistant Artistic Director (Maternity Cover), to begin developing the details of the choreography. Chris and Tom worked together to plan out Chris' vision, select dancers and figure out how the choreographic process would be achieved online via video-chat. Working safely within Covid-19 secure guidelines presented a challenge, the solution was making the production into a dance film. September 2020 saw the first online group session, where Chris met with the dancers. Chris shared images, ideas and inspirations to bring the dancers into the world of this choreographic work. He had prepared by creating short phrases of movement, which he wanted the dancers to learn. Teaching a phrase of movement over video chat was a new experience for Chris and the team. Chris created sequences of movement, each with their specific stories, titles and inspirations that he teaches to the dancers. From this Chris uses words, images and specific moments from film to inspire tasks for the dancers to develop this material.

“Using tasks really works for me. I give the dancers tasks and then they give me movement back." Chris

The choreography for three solo dances developed from initial movement phrases titled 'Hippocampus', 'Beneath Ocean Blue Sea' and 'Physical Water'. Chris then used tasks that involved layering words, working with different imagery, and asking the dancers to embody and develop the material. Beyond the Waves brings the three solo dances together through film, with filming and hopefully live performance taking place from spring 2021.


While water flows through heavy storms and waves the stronger it gets feels like something has pulled me under as I come up for air the water fills the whole room around me like I can see something that emerges from the deep blue clear sea as I am drenched in water I feel like everything pulls me down like heavy thick ice that drops below my feet and it pulls me into a Giant powerful wave that pulls me down stream

Chris Pavia – 9 September 2020

An early page from Chris Pavia's planning book for Beyond the Waves.

Chris Pavia 2018, Performance of Captain's Duties at Watts Gallery, Credit: Callum Graham Robertson

Chris Pavia and Nadenh Poan rehearsing Beyond the Waves, 2020, Credit StopGap Dance Company

Plaster maquette, GF Watts

Nadenh Poan and Christian Brinklow rehearsing Beyond the Waves, 2020, Credit StopGap Dance Company

Sketch, GF Watts

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