Under Flat Sky

(Under Flat Sky 2014) 30 minute dance performance with visual projections by Silke Mansholt commissioned by Art Museum Kochi (Artist in Residence).
The dancers are immersed in wide screen video projections however in this piece a new innovation of moving the projected images is applied which in some cases is responsible for the illusion that the dancers a travelling through space when they are indeed static and in other cases being incorporated in a gradually compressed space.
In terms of choreography the piece fuses elements of Japanese Butoh dance with its characterstic minimal and extremely slow movement style with European Contemporary dance techniques especialy controlled quasi-improvisation.
Another important idea is that the dance piece is a visual art work and a major fact in this is the design of the semitransparent costumes that allow the projections to be seen on many planes – the back projection screen, the front of the dress, the dancer body and the back of the dress.
After initial premiere in Kochi on 6 December 2014 the work in a scaled down version for two dancers has been performed at The Place London, Teatro a Corte Festival Torino, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Forli Festival. The work was also filmed as a solo in 3D with Japanese dancer Mei Suzuki and extracts have been installed in Germany, Spain, Italy and UK.



Edge of Nowhere/Under Flat Sky 
Dance Base Edinburgh Aug 2015
Edge of Nowhere/Under Flat Sky is a ravishing double bill choreographed by Billy Cowie. The sheer beauty of Under Flat Sky is breathtaking: a visual projection designed by German artist Silke Mansholt and vocals by Rowan Godel are all part of an entrancing whole. Tiny poems (such as ‘Ice cracks, ice thaws / And so into my arms you will melt / Then flow away’) introduce each section. First one dancer, then two stand in front of the screen so that the patterns are projected onto their bodies; they appear to be dissolving into the changing landscape or seascape. Their Butoh-inspired gestures are slow, minimal and totally mesmerizing.

Stephanie Green - The Skinny Sep 2015


Look deep between the lines of Silke Mansholt’s projected landscapes in Under Flat Sky and you’ll see two female dancers, embedded live in the drawings. Words will flit onto the screen, poetically wistful with loss and longing as is the music that drifts in like a remembered perfume. The whole is akin to a series of many-layered haiku: exquisite, haunting.

Mary Brennan, Glasgow Herald, 28 Aug 2015


Under Flat Sky/Edge of Nowhere
Beautiful and expertly realised, two highly successful fusions of sound, image and dance. Presented by Dance Base as part of their well programmed season of dance for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Under Flat Sky and Edge of Nowhere comprise two contrasting dance pieces choreographed by Billy Cowie. Both make incredibly effective use of projected back images designed by Silke Mansholt, and fuse audio, music, images, poetry, story and dance in an highly compelling manner.

Under Flat Sky is a measured and meditative work for two dancers, performed beautifully by Simone Schmidt and Kanako Yamamoto. The work is in several short sections, which are intercalated with recordings of poetry, words projected onto the screen. Clothed in white gauze to capture Mansholt’s projections, the dancers appear to be cut-out from the slowly evolving textures on the screen behind them, their bodies producing sharp, dark shadows there. Schmidt and Yamamoto’s slow, gentle movements are expertly controlled, and in this respect are reminiscent of some aspects of Japanese butoh. Bathed in the textures of the light, their bodies become almost sculptural in quality.
Edge of Nowhere, both created for and performed by Indian dancer Rajyashree Ramamurthi, is more light-hearted and is structured around a series of edifying short stories apparently from Ramamurthi’s life. Each story is accompanied by its own short dance piece, Cowie’s choreography inspired by Odissi, one of the oldest surviving classical dance forms of India. Ramamurthi’s stories, which have been pre-recorded, are very amusing and delivered charmingly, Ramamurthi lip-syncing to the audio. The choreography is in some ways simple, but is nevertheless highly effective and expertly realised by Ramamurthi.
Both these works are highly successful consolidations of sound, image and dance. They are understated yet striking, and work very well together in this nicely balanced programme.
Robert Dow, TVBOMB, 29 August 2015


Under Flat Sky, conceived and choreographed by the great visionary poet who is Billy Cowie. Guest of honour at Teatro a Corte, the Scottish filmmaker and inventor of among other things the dance video in 3D, this time merges music, pictures, poetry, story and dance into an organic whole, measured and meditative. The performance makes extensive use of images by the German artist Silke Mansholt projected in the background into which appear to plunge the sculptural bodies of two dancers Simone Schmidt and Kanako Yamamoto (Zaneta Majcher). Dressed in white to capture the projections, the two performers stand out from the pictures that follow one another on the screen seamlessly. They are abstract images that evoke ancient graffiti carved into the rock or cave paintings distant in time. Ancestral images associated with the world of nature that change imperceptibly under the viewer's gaze. The dancers sometime showing rips, scratches and wounds crossing the contours and shadows, sometimes almost motionless. Their movements, light and graceful, are heavily controlled and recall some aspects of Butoh. The singing of Rowan Godel creates an atmosphere of magical dreamlike suspension and the many microsequences  which embody the show are interspersed with Japanese poems that speak of mergers and separations, of embraces and gestures of revulsion. We talk about love, but that love which should melt humans and the nature that hosts them into an organic whole. This could explain the alternation of movements in and out of the background images that encompass the bodies and then pry them out, perhaps regenerated. In this sense, the show is not only a visual poem on being, but also on happening, here and now, in spite of everything.

Susanna Battisti
Fogli e Parole d'Arte 27 July 2016


Teatro a Corte

Cowie works in tune with the German artist Silke Mansholt, who sets up scratched landscapes to immerse the minimal dance of two performers. On the suggestion of short lyric the dancers move waving, mixed by light to the landscapes entering their dance. The verses (in Japanese) echo songs in Turkish, with captions of "rough" translation in Italian - a sort of machine translation - in order not to make the viewer rest on the flat meaning of words, teasing him to imagine the poetry in the hiatus left between arcane sounds and a bizarre Italian. Over all, an old, healthy craftsmanship (the scenes of Mansholt recall the drawings covered with a hand of white or black pastel and then scratched with a metal tip to rediscover the underlying colors) that makes more poetic wonders of technology. Cowie is a gifted artist and stops at twenty-five minutes, the time needed to make the wings flap its delicate lyrics, the subdued flight of thoughts of love. To the small sighs that make his dancing clouds move. -
Rossella Battisti
Danza e Danzaweb



Teatro a Corte 2016

Scritto da Maria Dolores Pesce.
Dramma.it Juglio 2016

Of the Scottish Billy Cowie I remember with suggestion the show Tango de Soledad and his skill and the charm of his creations this his new test is a confirmation. Two oriental dancers on the rhythm of butoh dance interact with the figurative art of the German Silke Mansholt who almost recovers from his ritual movements a sense of its own but renewed, in a tight dynamic in which the essential depth of the human being, even in his " there being "such a contrasted contemporary, it finally emerges with the power of dance. The cadences of ancient oriental lyrics that accompany the evolutions of the dance, integrated almost in those reminiscent of the verses of Zeami Motokiyo and of the No theater and echoed in them, enhance the oriental styles of the projections, similar sometimes to ancient vascular paintings of an east that much has influenced our gaze. It is not therefore an overlap, not a dominating and oppressing, but a reciprocal reinforcement of figurative, sonorous and psychological suggestions that draw souls strong and rich, perhaps indicating that the road for centuries traveled, that of theater and art, that of dance and its magical circle of space and time, it still seems open to us.


Festival Teatro a Corte 2016 Du 7 au 17 juillet dans les demeures royales du Pièmont

Still in the century-old walls of Rivoli, Billie Cowie, the long-time companion of the Festival, presents his new creation Under Flat Sky
The show created in Japan is a poetic language with a thousand shades. Video, dance and music braid to create a state of subjugating grace. Two dancers in motion in front of a big screen that broadcast images of paintings on the ground and their bodies; these women are part of the ageless paintings of artist Silke Mansholt. By connecting the image and the bodies, Billy Cowie makes disappear all notion of flesh and therefore of life. A text inspired by haiku (poetic Japanese form, highly codified), sings the pain of a woman waiting for love, who longs for loneliness and sadness. The artist, who himself composed for this show electro haunting music, haunting, curvy and in waves, shapes the body of his dancers in a work of slowness, butoh. Time stretches, images take us and make us travel in time immemorial. The construction, performance and accuracy are so intense that a breath of air could tip this moment of pure poetry.

ƒƒƒ Article de Camille Hazard


The second performance at Rivoli Castle: Under flat sky by Scottish choreographer Billy Cowie, guest for the 4th time at the festival is also a national first. A work initiated in Japan with five dancers and interpreted here by two women slowly and a lot of grace, melted in the projected graphic works of the German artist Silke Mansholt. A Japanese text in the form of haiku punctuates this creation: melancholy, love, the force of the feelings opposes the power of the elements. The great wave of Hokusai comes to mind as paintings pass by. Man's fragility in the face of a sovereign nature, a feeling of impermanence, is one of the characteristics of Japanese sensitivity and mentality.The poetic and refined dance is in harmony with the musical composition of Billy Cowie, father of the 3D dance: statue-woman, body in extension, very slow movements in the style of but?. These two caryatids seem to whisper: "I am beautiful, O mortals!like a dream of stone "Charles Baudelaire. Beauty, lyricism and intensity of the imaginary and romantic world of Billy Cowie that carries the viewer into sweet dreams.

Article de Paula Gomes - Theatre Actu