22 Feb 2017

SOROR – Q&A with Artist Zoe Jones and Choreographer Ella Robson-Guilfoyle

From jealousy to compassion to love, female relationships can be one emotional rollercoaster of a ride.

Soror is a powerful, acrobatic dance performance that tackles the emotional bonds that form in female relationships.

Supported by Hull Truck and Hull Dance, Soror takes place at Hull Truck Theatre 9 – 10 March as part of WOW Hull. The dance is a new, four-woman performance put together by Zoe Jones, Ella Robson-Guilfoyle, Fiona Thornhill and Joana Irina Dias that’s guaranteed to have you hooked from start to finish.

WOW is a three-day festival posing the question – why is true gender equality taking so long to achieve? The festival is packed full of incredible talks, music, comedy, debate and performance following International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017.

Zoe and Ella tells us more about Soror and the sister-like relationship they share.


How did you all meet and what are your dance backgrounds?

Ella: I met Zoe when I worked on the choreography for her National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA) graduation show in 2011. Following that I was asked to teach movement on the BA course at NCCA, where I met the other dancers Fiona Thornhill and Joana Irina Dias. It’s been interesting working with them to develop their movement skills over the years, it has created a rather unique, lovely relationship. They know me, and I feel we trust each other.

Zoe: We subsequently worked together on a few different circus shows, as well as becoming colleagues at the NCCA. My background is mostly in gymnastics, and my dance training is limited to the ballet I did as a gymnast as well as the movement and dance classes that I had at circus school.


Why have you chosen to base the performance on female relationships?

Ella: Zoe came to me with an idea of creating a show based on her relationship with her sisters. During initial discussions involving other performers it became clear that there were wider issues that we could explore while referring back to Zoe’s original idea.

I feel that it is really important that women support each other to encourage growth and progression. There are so many obstacles in life, why add to the mix?!

Zoe: As one of five sisters, I have always found my relationship with the world was framed by the experience of growing up with four strong female role models. My relationships with each of them are unique, fascinating … and bewildering. These early bonds instilled in me a profound admiration for interesting and emotionally strong women, which is perhaps why I have ended up working in the very female environment of the world of circus arts. I often find that my relationships with my circus “sisters” reminds me of my relationship with my actual sisters in their intensity, humour, closeness (both physical and emotional), reliance, jealousy and competition.

In our world, a woman often feels she needs to behave as a man in order to become successful. I wanted to explore another option – one of mutual support and acceptance in order to create a culture of strong and successful women.

Soror © Ashley Karrell

How do you feel you have tried to convey this through the performance?

Ella: Each woman in the show has faced a unique set of challenges, and they have each dealt with them in different ways, arriving at different conclusions that have informed their understanding of who they are and how they translate their environment and manage their lives.

Ultimately I think the work is moving towards a conclusion that we are strong, intelligent and beautiful independently, but we are possibly happier, more supported and more fulfilled when we work together as a group.


How have you all supported each other since you first started planning Soror?

Zoe: I knew that I wanted to perform in this show, so I really had to hand over the reins to Ella and trust her to make decisions as a director and choreographer. Collaborations aren’t always the easiest way to work, but they can produce really fantastic and unexpected things if you trust each other and have the same end goal.

Joana and Fiona are really great to work with, they are generous and brave in creation and on stage, and they really threw themselves into the devising process. This commitment from them has acted as a kind of support, because I feel that they also trust the process and believe in the show.


What is the most challenging aspect of delivering this performance?

Ella: Well, for me it is watching it without passing out as a result of stress!

Zoe: From a performer’s perspective, probably the parts where we work with text. None of us are trained as actors, so we feel much more confident of our physical skills than our vocal ones.


Soror © Ashley Karrell


How do you feel that men and women can handle their emotions differently?

Ella: Each person has their own way of expressing their emotions. It’s what makes us brilliant.

Zoe: We talked a lot about how different our lives would be if we were men, and the discussion often came back to the idea that we constrain/embellish our emotions as women because of the way we are expected/not expected to behave.


What are you most looking forward to about the performance?

Ella: I love seeing my women be strong, powerful, loving, vocal and brave. They are an inspiration.

Zoe: I’m really looking forward to working with Ella, Fiona, and Joana again. They are such an amazing group of women, and I love performing with them. This is a challenging show, but I’m looking forward to pushing myself again.


What do you hope the audience will take away with them?

Ella: That people are amazing.


What else are you all looking forward to from WOW Hull?

Ella: I am really excited about sharing work, ideas hopes and dreams.


SOROR is available to WOW Day Pass holders for just £7.50 or alternatively book your £12.50 tickets here.

To book for this event at the discounted price present your WOW Day Pass at the box office or quote your promo code when calling. 

See what else you can get involved in at WOW Hull from 10 – 12 March 2017.


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