The role of art in dealing with loss can be a powerful one, and we’ve seen many inspiring examples during the Covid era. Take ballet choreographer Paul Lightfoot. He not only lost his father during the lockdown, but he also wasn’t even allowed into the hospital to say goodbye due to lockdown restrictions. Afterwards, he began working remotely on a piece to process his grief, and Unspoken is the result.
The project began in April when, a few days after his father’s death, Paul began an Instagram conversation with filmmaker William Armstrong. The two artists decided to tell a story about a shift in the world and the collective feelings of those affected by the pandemic.
For the ensuing project, Paul embarked on a first in his 35-year career: choreographing entirely remotely from his home in The Netherlands with Sebastian Haynes, a dancer based in Denmark. During these six weeks, the filmmaker Armstrong recorded every conversation and rehearsal, to interweave Paul’s story with glimpses into the working relationship between a choreographer and dancer.
Composer Alexander McKenzie joined at the early stages to create original music for the film. The final performance was filmed on location at Grundtvig’s Kirken, one of Copenhagen’s best-known churches.
Unspoken is a rare window into a contemporary master translating his intense emotions into artistic form. A moving tribute to Lightfoot’s father, and a beacon of creative possibility in these unprecedented times, you can view the short film here.