For the launch of Velvet Fools, a performance salon in London, Stefan Jovanović and choreographer Eleanor Bauer merge two systems of oracular divination, in the mystical vaults hidden behind the Doodle Bar, in Bermondsey.
Tarot Oracle Dance combines the Oracle Dance and the Tarothump, inviting a group of dancers, tarot-players, and musicians to collaborate on this occasion. Audience members step forth as issue-holders, two at a time, and pose a question to the Oracle. The Oracle knows everything and is always right. The Oracle is composed of 25 performers, whose actions and dances, Bauer and Jovanović read throughout the night. There is no good or bad dance, right or wrong dance, only the dance that is called to be danced. Aesthetic craftsman Hamilton Stansfield intermittently transformed the two readers into heightened personas throughout the course of the readings.
In this pilot edition of Velvet Fools, the readers were joined by folk-cellist Maya McCourt, disco-dream pop singer Bliss Carman, and a group of special guest oracle-performers, including:
Florence Peake, Katye Coe, Atabey (Carlos Maria Romero), Bert Roman, Annie Hanauer, Hamish MacPherson, Pepa Ubera, Laura Burns, Eve Stainton, Rachel Gildea, Margarita Zafrilla, Alice Tatge, Matthias Sperling, Samuel John Kennedy, Fiontán Moran, Adriana Pegorer, Sara Maurizi, Darcy Wallace, Iris Chan, Sara Ruddock, David Van Dijcke, Fernanda Munoz-Newsome, Lizzy Lequesne, Andrew Graham & Pau Aran Gimeno.
The edges of the evening were hosted by Mariana Marquez, Emma Zangs, Patricia de Souza Leão Müller & Jack Hardy.
This special version of the Tarot Oracle Dance took place within a week-long exhibition/installation by artist Phil Dobson and couturier Brigitte Stepputtis, titled We Are Stardust/We Are Carbon. Brigitte exhibited her 2014 work We Are Stardust, created with ScanLAB with a soundtrack by Mat Ducasse. It shows an unsettling world where space-time has been disturbed, where the characters and architecture appear at times to be carved in stone, at others to be no more substantial than ash, ghosts inhabiting an impossible space. Phil projected images derived from his paintings on to a structure implying the forms of carbon suggesting random images received from deep space and distant time. The title of this show was derived from the lyrics of the Joni Mitchell song, Woodstock. In a time of ecological, environmental and technological anxiety it is worth reflecting on where we come from.
The Oracle Dance is a score for a dance that answers questions. A group of dancers act as an Oracle answering an audience member or visitor’s question, without hearing the question or its interpretation. Their danced answer to the question is interpreted and orated by an external reader of the dance. The Oracle Dance originated in the TTT sessions (Teachers Teaching Teachers AKA “teachback") at Impulstanz festival in Vienna in 2014 with and by Jennifer Lacey, Alice Chauchat, Valentina Desideri, Alix Eyunaudi, Keith Hennessy, Anne Juren, Mark Lorimer, Raimundas Malašauskas, Philippe Riéra and Mårten Spångberg. For the Tarot Oracle Dance evening at the Doodle Bar, Eleanor Bauer served as the reader of the Oracle.
The Tarothump is a shamanic-tarot-therapy practice invented by Stefan, that sets physical materials into relation with the human body and perception via silver and bronze sculptural tarotology. He draws from his architectural and choreographic training to use positioning, orientation, movement and touch to address the content of the issue-holder, and work through the possibilities of intention via direct constellation-work with the materials at hand. Sessions can last up to an hour and are available on either an individual basis or in twos/couples. For the Tarot Oracle Dance evening at the Doodle Bar, Stefan Jovanović served as the reader of the Tarothump.