Monday May 21 @ 14.30 to Friday May 25 @ 16.00
Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, UK

an Residential Short Course

with poet Alyson Hallett and dance artist Deborah Black
and guest artist Phil Smith


Embodying the Line: writing, movement and radical presence

A rare opportunity to work with two practitioners who are coming together to explore language and movement.  Poet Alyson Hallett and dancer/movement artist Deborah Black are thrilled to be able to work together at Dartington, a centre of enquiry and experimentation.  Embodying the Line is a unique opportunity to bring two different disciplines together and allows us to ask:

What happens when we embody words and speak embodiment?

Embodying the Line invites us to discover the physicality of language and the language of being embodied.  Using a range of different exercises we will develop an open awareness of what’s inside and outside of us – emotions, thoughts, words, sensations, space, time, location. This will encourage us to move through language and write the moving body and experience the connections between them.

During the course we’ll delve into what we call this radical presence as a way of deepening and expanding our awareness.  We’ll open ourselves up to our myriad connections with trees, rivers, buildings, birds, sky, stones.  We’ll fire and inspire the imagination with exciting writing exercises and spark new rhythms of movement with ideas that introduce us to new perspectives.

At the heart of the course is a sense of play and open enquiry.  There will be time to nourish individual as well as collaborative work, time for speaking and being quiet, time for documentation and creating community.  As language rises up within us, we will bring awareness to words as well as to the movements of our bodies.

Alyson says…

There has always been a physical practise alongside my writing.  Yoga, dancing, t’ai chi, chi gong, pilates, yoga, walking, swimming, butoh, yoga, improvised movement, dancing, yoga.  Learning different ways to move and be aware of my body is as important as writing.  Equally, I have come to understand embodiment as something that needs to be practiced and attended to in the same way that I practice writing and bring my attention to it each day.
The connections between these two ways of being – writing and moving – have been quietly forging their links for a long time. I have always sensed that the two go together, but it is only now that I am bringing this sense into my conscious awareness and working with it.  This is why I am delighted to be offering a workshop with Deborah Black.  In many ways it’s a dream come true – to be able to bring writing and physical embodiment/movement together.
I have more questions than answers.  How does improvised movement relate to improvised writing?  How does a greater awareness of physical space translate to an awareness of space on the page?  Can we fully inhabit the bodies of ourselves and of language – and will this lead to discovering landscapes we’d overlooked or been unable to previously imagine?  
At the heart of everything is exploration, play, experimentation.  What happens when we spend more time closer to the ground, being horizontal?  Can we learn to listen to our elbows, to trees and walls, to ankles and stones?  Where will this listening take us?  What happens when we bring equivalence into our relationship with the world that’s not only all around us but inside of us too?
I’m very excited to be leading this workshop with Deborah.  Together, we’ll be creating a space for poetry, movement, observation, prose, speaking, breathing, being.  To be able to do this at Dartington, a centre whose history is predicated upon experimentation and care for the land, is to be able to invite each one of us to deepen our connections with ourselves and the Earth.    — Dr. Alyson Hallett

Embodying the Line will create an environment where we can explore and unfold into new possibilities.  Radical presence, curiosity, play will enable us to create a space that is revealing, inspiring, fun and deeply nourishing.

Deborah and Alyson look forward to welcoming you to Embodying The Line workshop in May 2017. As soon as dates are flnalised, booking will become available.

Listen to Alyson’s ‘How I write‘ at the Royal Literary Fund site.


The shape of the course

Every course is different, but read this for more information about the working schedule during an short course.


Deborah and Alyson have a chat…

They talk about their inspirations and their work, and about some of ideas they will introduce during the course.

Alyson and Deborah from Deborah Black on Vimeo.

Deborah Black was based from 2013-2016 in Europe teaching physical theatre and dance and collaborating with two interdisciplinary companies: the Tuning People (BE) and YMIST Company (NO). While previously living in New York for nearly fifteen years and working with Deborah Hay, Siobhán (Karl) Cronin, and the SITI Company, she began he current research of collective and individual daily practices, conflict management/creativity, and ecology.

Deborah’s teaching and performance practice includes Viewpoints improvisation, Suzuki-based acting training, and post-modern movement and dance styles. Currently she is working with Artists Rise Up New York, creating theatre for social change.


Dr Alyson Hallett is a prize winning poet and curator of an international poetry-as-public-art project, The Migration Habits of Stones.  Alyson has published many books of poetry including On Ridgegrove Hill (Atlantic Press), Suddenly Everything (Poetry Salzburg), The Stone Library (Peterloo Poets).  She has also published short stories, The Heart’s Elliptical Orbit (Solidus Press) and written drama and an audio-diary for BBC Radio 4 and drama for Sky Television.  She has been awarded several Arts Council Grants and has undertaken many prestigious residencies including being the first poet in the UK to receive a Leverhulme Award to be resident in a university geography department and the Charles Causley Residency.

Her public art work is sited in the England, Scotland, USA and Australia and can be seen in both urban and rural areas.  Collaborations with sculptors, glass makers, musicians and visual artists are a vital part of Alyson’s working practice.

In 2010, she completed a practice-based PhD which led to her latest book, Geographical Intimacy (available from Amazon, 2016).   Alyson is a Hawthornden Fellow, has run Arvon Foundation poetry courses with James Harpur, and currently works part-time as an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and as an associate lecturer at UWE and Falmouth University.

Listen to Alyson’s ‘Chalk’ piece on BBC Radio 3 (requires Flash)





and to her Nature piece on BBC Radio 4 about carrying a stone to Australia

Who is the course for?

Embodying the Line is for anyone  interested in the bi-directional flow between written language and the language of the body.  If you’re used to working with words, you’ll get the chance to get up and move and see how this affects your writing.  If you’re used to working with your body, you’ll get the chance to translate experiences into words.

The workshop is open to everyone – experienced and inexperienced alike.  The most important thing is a sense of curiosity and a willingness to dive in.

Like all residential courses, the course is for anyone in need of an opportunity to engage with new approaches to creative practice or a rediscovery/refreshment of their creative selves, It allows for a condition of radical permeability – between senses, processes and materials. The course is for those who wish to engage in an unpredictable, shared process of practical enquiry with all the uncertainty and curiosity of a complete beginner, irrespective of their prior accomplishments.

All that’s a way of saying that you can bring along a lifetime of creative experience, or none at all. Either way, you will be open to change and to rediscovery, and be happy to share and exchange knowledge and ideas.

About short courses residential short courses are designed as intensive periods of work, reflection, quietude, and creative energy. They are not just designed for artists, although creative expression forms an important part of the activity and learning.

We take an inclusive and transformative approach to learning: this is not a hierarchical structure but one of genuine knowledge sharing and with the assumption that everyone in the room has much to learn and much to offer.

Day 1 will be in the wonderful Ship Studio in Dartington Hall’s medieval courtyard; the main workshop space will be in Studio 1, a large blackbox adaptable space in which you can make a mess if you choose. This space becomes yours for the duration of the course and how it is laid out and how it feels is very much a product of the course and those engaged in it.

Dartington is in itself an extraordinary venue. In addition to its medieval courtyard and other buildings, it is situated in a 900-acre rural estate wrapped by the River Dart in one of the UK’s most beautiful areas – the South Hams of Devon. The estate is a varied ecological site, with the river and riverside, open field and woodland including some ancient woodland, managed and farmed areas, in addition to the Grade II* listed formal gardens boasting an astonishing array of native and non-native species. For almost a century the modern Dartington has been a place of societal change, of creative exploration, and of social experiment. For more information visit

All of this is surrounded by the extraordinary landscapes and seascapes of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are just a few miles from the sea, and will be spending much of our time either along the River Dart as it wraps its way round the Dartington estate, or in nearby Start Bay, stretching between Dartmouth and the Start Point Lighthouse.

What previous participants have said

…I just want to say thank you for organising the short course for In Other Tongues. The course leaders were excellent; well organised, inspirational, caring and encouraging.  The evening with Alice Oswald will stay with me as a very special event. The Ship studio was a lovely venue too; and it was a privilege to be able to work in it and the surrounding gardens/grounds. I learnt a great deal, and it is still percolating.

Overall I thought the course was fabulous, not least [because of] the tighter focus on writing (with support from drawing/illustrating) which produced a very intense programme of practical work which was about delivering creative work.

Related events

From June 20-22, also at Dartington Hall, is convening an international symposium, Liquidscapes: tales and tellings of watery worlds and fluid states. This is a three-day gathering bringing together leading creative thinkers and doers to explore physically and figuratively our watery world. departs from conventional models, and whilst providing a fill of intellectual stimulation in formal paper sessions and presentations also provides plentiful opportunity to be in and around the water in workshops and performances, and plenty of unprogrammed time for conversations and networking.

If you attend both the symposium and the short course, you’ll receive a £75 discount on registration fees.


Non-residential (includes lunches and dinner) £645

Full residence with all meals, in student-style accommodation (shared bathrooms) £780

Full residence with all meals, in hotel accommodation (private bathroom) £840

There is a maximum registration of 15 people.