Guest post: Chris Thomas introduces a Museums at Night performance inspired by paintings

Our latest guest blog post comes from Chris Thomas, a student working on a performance that will take place over Museums at Night weekend.

A photo of dancers with arms bent

Student dancers in rehearsal

MAKE.ART.MOVE YOU is a performance-based event created by students from the University of Leeds. It will be performed on the 14th May at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in Leeds, in association with Museums at Night.

We have devised a performance that focuses on ways in which people can engage with art on a variety of different levels, whether through dance, voice or music. Our inspiration came from the seminal works of the gallery and also the touring works of Alan Davie. Once we found out the type of paintings Alan Davie creates we set about creating dance based workshops using his work as inspiration to create new material.

Examples of Alan Davie’s paintings can be seen on his website:

Using the shapes from these paintings we started to generate some initial movement ideas. As you can see in the paintings there is a build up of many different colours and shapes, and we mirrored this by creating quite frantic dance sequences in terms of tempo, which were complemented by both angular and linear movements.

A photo of dancers bending and twisting

Dancers in motion

This project explores the notions of changing energies within a certain space and in our case it was the gallery itself. We found different ways in which we could utilize this space through the process of dance, physical theatre and other dramatic devices. Again using the works of Alan Davie we experimented with the idea of ritualised and everyday art works, for example applying makeup, body art and tattoos.

A photo of a dancer having eyeliner applied

Applying makeup for performance

The piece highlights the way we as consumers approach art and choose to engage with it whether it be in a space such as a gallery, at home or even on the high street. With this project we want to show people of all different backgrounds that you can engage with art and that the process of doing so is an enjoyable and pleasurable experience.

It has been a pleasure using the skills I have acquired as a performer and the passion I have for it to create a piece of work for the gallery and to help draw new people into art galleries.


Chris Thomas is a second-year student at the University of Leeds, studying theatre and performance.

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