‘Onwards’ Poem from Hawkwind’s Warriors of the Edge of Time Tour

Many moons ago, I toured with the legendary space-rock band Hawkwind, it was the best (and weirdest) of times. For just under a decade Laura McGee and I partnered up to create stage shows that brought their gigs to life and gave an extra visual dimension to the music. We worked alongside the lovely John Moules who designed the mind-blogging projections and light show and, of course, a group of visionary musicians who’d been honing their craft for over forty years. We met many amazing people and made lifelong friends across the world, die-hard fans who showed up enthusiastically (and relentlessly) to any and everything Hawk related.

 

In 2009 we toured the ‘Warriors on the Edge of Time’ show and this was the tour we were most proud of. As always, Laura created a set of incredible costumes, masks and headpieces, and we berthed nine new characters who appeared at various points throughout set-list, telling a story loosely based on Michael Moorcock’s Elric sagas (with of course our own little twist.)

The fact that my surname is Elrick, certainly added some momentum to the mystic.

 

In this incarnation The Eternal Champion was, of course, a woman and you can imagine how much fun it was being her wielding the black sword on stages across the world. We played the Enchanter, the Universal Child, the Eternal Champion, the Dark Mother, a Fire Elemental, an evil Wizard, two dancing stars and two tribal space-punks and least of all forgetting, The Golden Void itself. Every performance Laura and I switched characters and the drama evolved, so that we both had equal chances to play the protagonists and the villains and tweaked the story every night we went on. Laura and I had the time of our lives and the love we got back from the Hawkfans was truly mind-blowing.

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So here’s poem I wrote, almost a decade ago, that preceded the stage show and was inspired by mine and McGee’s first conceptual brainstorm. I thought it would be nice to match the words to the final images and celebrate the epic fantasy world we got to live each night onstage.

Special thanks go to Brian Tawn (the Keeper of All Things) and long time Hawkwind chronicler for digging out an old copy of Hawkzine and allowing me to revive this poem.

 

Onwards

 

 

It all started in the Dawning, just a yawning crack of light;

A loosening of the gossamer weaved in fabrics of the night.

A moment hung in timelessness, a child berthed to the void,

Awoken to the Universe by a passing asteroid.

 

Reborn amidst a tethered realm in an act of Cosmic Will,

She tried with all her might to fly, but threads, they held her still.

Until, a weary wanderer (who’d traversed all stars and planes),

Took pity on this speak of might and released her from her chains.

 

The Enchanter saw within this child a spark of something pure;

A flicker of an infinite love he’d cherished once before.

Bewitched and rapt by such a sight, he devised to spy on further,

And watched her dance whilst cloaked in shadow, curious to what she’d discover.

 

Unbeknownst, she spun in space, a whorl of careless energy,

And the laws of attraction soon enticed a second elemental frenzy.

All aflame a creature came and blazed around the girl,

Revealing scenes of scorching scenes and heat engulfing worlds.

 

Now versed in tongue of glowing fire she began to radiate,

She learnt the ways of heat and lust and what could senses sate.

The Enchanter watched in rapt delight and felt her essence quicken,

He vowed to make her a precious prize before her skin could thicken.

 

But such a feat could not be reached without the proper force,

A balance of opposites was surely required for his hunt to stay on course.

So summoning his antithesis, he called a being of equal strength and power,

To assist in a plan that would draw her in, he invoked the ancient Dark Mother.

 

As old twin flames, this woman came, now twisted, harsh and bitter,

Although it split her heart in two she’d do what the Enchanter bid her.

They conjured up a potent spell that could bind the wildest heart,

Yet Dark Mother cursed the carefree child that cracked the past apart.

 

Beyond all choice and need and drive, the stars watched ever on;

Celestial lights in eternal lights they viewed, judged not – just shone.

Infinity was ever theirs to expand and illuminate,

For their cold to our conceptions of want, to our fear, our greed, our hate.

 

 

And now, inside the Mother’s heart, had grown a gaping hole,

Bereft of love this demon stood, not feeling sane or whole.

The Enchanter had drained every waning wisp of hope she still had left,

She cursed his name and vowed to steal some warmth back for herself.

 

With fading strength, Dark Mother shifted, shucking off the skin she’d worn,

And soon appeared rejuvenated, her body and face transformed.

But try as she might she could not distract the Enchanter from his task:

No eyes for her, not fooled by disguise, he was untouched by her transient mask.

 

Absorbed in tomes that twisted minds and immersed in spells of power,

He only dreamed of the One he’d released and desire flared-up every hour.

Now taken all he needed from her, to Dark Mother, he would not gaze,

With this rebuff, she knew the folly of her love, and scattered back into space.

 

The Universal Child had grown strong and wild, a woman herself now no less;

Not to be captured, confined or contained with a freedom most truly blessed.

And the more that the Enchanter watched, the more he couldn’t justify her possession.

For none should be bent by another’s hand or be swallowed inside their obsession.

 

He swelled with pride as he watched her glide through vistas gleaming and shimmering,

For a captured bird is no real prize and there is no losing or winning.

So he let her free to feel and to be, to tend that pure light he’d first seen,

Because selfish love can’t rise above, it is just an illusionary dream.

 

Now with truth exposed, the Enchanter choose to loosen the grip of his charm,

And without that fetter she soared even better, now expanded and fully disarmed.

Ascending much faster beyond heavenly matter the Deities of Destiny smiled,

Pleased with the speed of this creature of their seed: the evolution of the Universal Child.

 

The Enchanter returned to his listless roam, relinquishing all control,

No more attempts to avert his fate, he resigned to align with the whole.

At one with the rhythms that bind all forms, he found a humble and unified perspective.

A change took place, he slackened his pace, and upon Nature’s complexity reflected.

 

With steps now slowed, new wisdom bestowed, he passed through the chamber of fire,

Shedding all skin and planted within him, a new kind of dream to aspire.

Each now in all and every in one, comes a contented disbanding of will:

This story is ancient and always beginning, a tale drifting Onwards still….

 

 

Words by Stefanie Elrick  // Costumes by Laura McGee // Stage Show by Laura McGee & Stefanie Elrick**

 

**There is no official footage of the tour unfortunately but literally hundreds of fan videos on youtube. Dive in!

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“Put on your red shoes and dance the blues”

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a surreal week here in the (arguably) united UK. The atmosphere is unstable and navigating through the media shit-storm proceeding the EU referendum – and it’s very real cultural aftermath – has felt like wading through treacle. You can feel the tremors everywhere, internally and externally and the worrying thing is that I’m not even sure if the real earthquake has hit.

I may be wrong, I’d really like to be.

On the positive side I’m very lucky to be surrounded by gifted and pro-active people, Manchester is a magnet for human diamonds. Kevin Burke and Anne-Louise Kershaw from Instigate Arts are two such hardworking gems and have commissioned a dance piece from Laura and I called compenSATE, which we’ll be performing at HOMEMcr in the galleries on the 9th July alongside Kevin Burke, Bartosz BedaMichelle Hannah, Richard Hughes, Sara Minelli & Hyunjoo Kim,Emily Mulenga, Greg Thorpe, Angela Readman, Louise Woodcock.

ambition-image-credit-maria-orengo-ambition stefanie elrick laura mcgee instigate arts

compenSATE responds to the theme of ‘Ambition’ and is a 2hr dance piece that examines the way we compete. For 2hrs Laura and I will explore beautification rituals, suggesting that these look-enhancing treatments are really homogenising the mainstream. The exhibition is free and open between 6pm – 9pm.

We’ve also been rehearsing for Christopher Bowles’s new play AUTOPSY, a dark and ambitious piece of theatre exploring our relationships with our bodies. Laura again is on-board and we’re been choreographing surreal mirrored sequences for a number of the scenes.

Christoper Bowles of Magpie Man Theatre is such a talented writer and director and since he ‘came out’ on the literary circuit last year he’s been taking it by storm. It’s a pleasure to work with him, even if he did script that I get dribbled on by one of my ‘clients.’ In the original version I got my feet cut off too, so I supposed things could be worse. He’s also turned all the cast into corpses for the show promo posters. I think I make quite a charming cadaver!

AUTOPSY Stefanie Elrick Christopher Bowles Manchester Fringe Theatre

Yesterday I worked again with Kevin Burke on one of his personal projects -‘The Measure of Hope’ – which will also be screened as part of the Instigate exhibition at HOMEMcr. Like the best of all things the timing of this collaboration was impeccable.

After a weekend of restless fidgety energy, feeling frustrated and unsure but trying to stay positive, I had so much conflicting stuff waiting to be released. Of all the dance pieces I’ve choreographed this was the most unexpectedly intense. I had a few rough ideas of movement I’d like to integrate, and we’d discussed the theme of the piece (the evolution of civilisation and ambiguity of ‘progress’) beforehand, but we basically just booked a space and launched straight in. No fuss, no frills, just the body responding to sound.

The track  itself changes a lot in seven minutes and there’s a really chaotic section in the middle followed by a beautifully gentle piano ending. As we repeated the track and I free-flowed in response, I found myself releasing more and more of the pent up frustration and anger that I had ignored all wkend, until the dance became more like a protest or an exorcism. I literally pulled and slapped and stomped and cried the anger out of my system, before reining it back in delicately and regaining control of my body.

Kevin is a great director encouraging me to perform the piece repeatedly until all my energy was spent and I couldn’t physically do anymore. I went home afterwards and collapsed into bed for 4hrs. Today my body feels battered and bruised but I know I’ve regained some sense of the balance I lost last week.

 

It reminded me that dance is such a powerful tool, especially when you do it for yourself, when it isn’t a performance for someone else’s pleasure. For too many years dance became very much like work for me and I forgot why I started in the first place. I danced as a teenager to switch my brain off, I danced myself into oblivion because I could lose control then regain myself in an energetic reset. I danced to reconnect and ground myself and I danced to find an expression for all those wordless things that rocketed round my body, manifesting as panic, simply needing to be released. It’s not a solution to every problem but it’s an amazing coping mechanism, such a simple technique that I think we take for granted and we will very much need in the years to come.