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New Work

Tipping Point video highlights (14 mins)

Dorsal (7 mins)

Photography: Andrew Bell
Video/stills: Dariusz Dziala


"There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed."
(United Nations)

Inspired by the 2018 UN report that the world’s governments have just 12 years to avert a climate-change catastrophe, Café Reason's latest work presents an array of powerful themes: climate change, pollution, pillage, and overpopulation.

Tipping Point is the result of a commission by the University of Hertfordshire, part of their annual Sonic Herts music festival. It premiered in May 2019 at the Forum – Hertfordshire’s biggest nightclub – a provocative, subversive encounter between youth and age, between the slick, conventional setting and the visceral, eclectic performance. What do we, as a group of mature dancers and musicians, have to say to those who will pay the price of our generation’s failure to take timely and effective action? What can we, as artists, do or say to have any influence over widespread apathy?

Using specially composed and improvised live music and vocals from both dancers and singers, together with pre-recorded soundscapes, textural video projected onto the dancers, outsized costume, found objects, and art installation, our aim is to create an immersive and provocative audience experience. The show weaves together a series of both striking and subtle group and solo pieces, with the evolving relationship between humanity and Earth under scrutiny, and themes of migration, change, and crisis constant refrains.

We are now exploring the possibility of presenting this work at an Oxford venue.

For the development and performance of Tipping Point, we have drawn on the energy, input, and talents of dancers and musicians new to Café Reason from around the region, including the veteran musician Maggie Nichols, who is the musical director.


I Migration
People and animals have always journeyed, responding to the pull and push of opportunity, need, and danger.

II Lifeforms
From their first stirrings, living things evolve, explore, and colonise their finite world.

III Wrap
Constraint or possibility, resistance or compliance, hope or despair?

IV Dorsal
Strange times in an alien landscape.

V Gaia
Earth’s riches can be honoured or abused, but the web of life endures.

VI Endgame
Inhabitants of a ravaged world look for meaning among the ruins.

VII Reef
Corals are the sensitive ‘canaries’ of the ocean environment, but the reefs have a long history of shift and regeneration.


Concept & choreography: Cath Blackfeather, Ayala Kingsley, Karen Goonewardene

Music: Maggie Nicols (vocals, keyboard), Jill Elliott (vocals, violin)

Dance: Cath Blackfeather, Cathy Burfield, Nathalie Descamps, Karen Goonewardene, Juliet Henderson, Ayala Kingsley, Cecilia Macfarlane, Sylvia von Hahn, Fabrizia Verrecchia

Costume: Fabrizia Verrecchia, Cath Blackfeather, Karen Goonewardene

Video: Karen Goonewardene, Peter Jones/Ayala Kingsley

Production: Joanna Matthews, Maxim Vuolo, Michael Gerard

Project management: Ayala Kingsley

With thanks to: Andrew Bell (photography), Dariusz Dziala (filming) and Russell Anderson, Roberto Filoseta, Ross Freeman, Alex Howard, Cecilia Macfarlane, Thea Marsh, Marston Village Hall, Oxford Brookes University, Andy Solway, for help and support.

Café Reason gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Arts Council England.
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