Suspended Stories

This research project uses vertical dance to connect people with the stories they read or hear.  Using books (real, virtual or recorded) as inspiration, we invite people to explore the reading experience.  For example, a reader might explore reading in different positions whilst hanging in a harness – what is it like to read upside down?  Another person might read to a suspended person inviting them to react to the story.   In this playful way, participants explore unexpected connections through the act of suspended reading.  We began our exploration with a session with our training group at Pontio and continued in a Young Fliers session at Venue Cymru.

The project took place over a weekend with activities in two places:

Inside the Conwy Cultural Centre: providing harnesses as metaphorical ‘chairs’ for people to explore the reading experience from a vertical dance perspective.

In the grove of trees just outside the park entrance to the Conwy Cultural Centre. A vertical dance exploration for Young and Adult fliers drawn from existing groups at Venue Cymru and Pontio to ‘create a buzz’ that draws attention to the Library, and invite the public to have a go at the reading exercise described above.

Released from the quiet of the library, we explored reading out loud whilst suspended.  The point was to share stories, languages and skills in accessible ways.  To listen and respond.  An opportunity for everyone to experiment with new ideas, explore self-expression and promote well-being.  To delight in new insights and altered perceptions of familiar spaces, to encounter the unfamiliar with joy. To create future memories through new connections with spaces, place and people.

Comment from parent:

 ‘Thank you for giving the Young Fliers such a fantastic experience and such a lovely day. It was amazing’  

Dancer comment:

‘Having the opportunity to experience Suspended Stories with Kate and the whole team was just amazing. Being in contact with nature upside down is something that I feel lucky to have done, as well as being able to give another life to the library and use conventional spaces in an unconventional way. A beautiful and different way to connect people and nature and written words.  I travel from far to be able to do this and I will travel again to do it one more time, as words cannot describe the feeling that I got when I was suspended listening to the wind and holding a tree.’

Portraits of readers

We collaborated with photographer Tony Harrison to offer people the chance to have their portrait taken whilst reading in a harness in the library.  Tony also documented all our activities.  Click here to see the  archive of his photos of the project.  

All the photos on this page are by Tony, you can see his work on