Deborah Hay : Solo Performance Commissioning Project (2004 – 2012)

Deborah Hay: William Frederking

ID worked on this project with pioneering artist choreographer Deborah Hay by producing nine UK Solo Performance Commissioning Projects (SPCP) in collaboration with Bodysurf Scotland. Deborah Hay decided that 2012 would be the final year of SPCP, feeling it was time to move on to a new and processes of making and sharing work with others.  

In Solo Performance Commissioning Project, all participating artists were commissioned to dance the same solo dance, choreographed by Deborah Hay. Hay rarely demonstrated solutions to the choreography. Rather, she conveyd her concepts through directives that each performer translated individually into movement in their unique way. As part of the process, the artist is bound to the material through meditation-like exercises that are applied throughout the choreographed dance together with a commitment to practice it daily.

Deborah Hay’s orientation to dance focuses on attention within performance. In an intense learning environment she challenges the experienced performer with movement concepts that trigger multiple levels of perception at once. She choreographs the world ‘between’ moments, where movement proclivity plays second fiddle to exercised inquiry.

In the latter half of SPCP, each artist was personally coached in their performance of the dance, with everyone present. Ultimately the solo was adapted by each performer through a period of practice that extends into the months following the project.

Turn Your F*cking Head – The Documentary

In 2012, ID commissioned filmmaker and artist Becky Edmunds to document the final edition of this unique project, following the 10-day intensive process and resulting in a feature-length documentary, Turn Your F*cking Head.

The documentary takes its title from Deborah’s frequent reminder to the artists to refresh their awareness. The film shows Hay and the 20 artists as they engage with the process of creating adaptations of Hay’s new score, Dynamic. It is a document of her process as she continues to redefine what performance is and how performers perform.

Turn Your F^*king Head had its world premiere at Cinedans Festival (2014). The UK premiere for TYFH took place at Independent Dance on 2014, followed by Hay’s performative lecture, A Continuity of Discontinuity. This mapped out her research since the 1970s, with excerpts taken from notebooks illustrating the choreographic questions that have guided her methodology and kept her and generations of dancers engaged with the material of performance.

Routledge DVD Package: The DVD resource includes the documentary, and three featurettes about particular aspects of the project. It is accompanied by a booklet with two specially commissioned essays by Susan Foster, Bojana Bauer and Myrto Katsiki, and a personal letter from Deborah Hay to Gill Clarke. 

Routledge Performance Archive: TYFH is also part of the Routledge Performance Archive, a developing resource produced in partnership with Digital Theatre, providing unique access to an unprecedented range of audio-visual material from past and present practitioners of performance. There, it is part of an online live archive which spans more than fifty years of documented work direct from renowned practitioners and specialists, and ranges across the entire spectrum of theatre topics. More information at