‘We met before' is a letter to a close friend told though movement, poetry and music. We met before is a personal letter written in 2017 by (London based Actress and Director) Thalissa Teixeira to a close friend told through movement, poetry and music. We hear a very intimate and personal true account of her friends suffering. For the first time in her adult friendships, she opens up about her mental health, panic attacks and desperation.
What comes out of this, is a monumental milestone in their lives. One of truth, openness and discussion. We see a community. A physical expression of the joys of discussion, friendship, and love. In a time where we need proximity more than ever, ‘We Met Before’ reaches beyond the personal story and like a hand reaching out, offers love and support. When we really look, we are allowed to heal, and we are not alone.
Thalissa Teixeira 'Back in the summer of 2018, I was performing in a play at The National Theatre in London. And to my utter retrospective gratefulness, I requested not to have a dressing room on my own and to share with the dancers who were in the ensemble. My space was next to Temitope Ajose-Cutting, and during ‘the half’, we’d have many conversations about the type of work we loved and aspired to. Her want to explore her choreography and mine in directing. One thankful evening, Ajose-Cutting said she’d like to choreograph a movement response to one of my poems. I had just the perfect thing. A letter I had written to a best friend, reflecting on the year before, his illness, my journey though mental health and therapy, and consequently a beautifully stronger, more honest friendship. It resonated with both mine and Ajose-Cuttings adoration for community, for an expression of the difficult through mediums that went beyond naturalistic story telling and concentrated on images.
One of our weeks off during our repertory production, Ajose-Cutting workshopped my poem, together with our ensemble, who consist of some of Londons top dancers (coming from Rambert and Sadlers wells). At the end of a week long workshopping, our composer Tim Doyle and cellist Tom Oldfield watched the performance and improvised their music response live. The outcome was incredibly moving, personal, and although choreographed to my words, filled with everyone’s experiences and stories. I was overwhelmed.
I then had to find a way to completely maintain this very improvised, fluid energy they had created in the room. The way I wanted to film this short was to make sure we all continued to explore, that the choreography style, which is one very much of improvisation and shifts, remained during our filming.
The best thing about it, is that it was our project entirely. With no funding, everyone there was there because they wanted to translate this story into film and that made it a hugely collaborative passion project for us all.
Jordan Rawi, our director of photography managed to become another dancer, moving with the ongoing improvisation in front of the camera. We wanted to allow new things to be captured as they were thought of. Rawi has an instinctual understanding of pace and movement that meant we could all tell this story as one shifting beast. Together with the trees that swayed with us.
I chose to film the dance outside because of the air, the wind becoming a protagonist in our film. The sense of the inside-out nature of the poem, that it was written in an urban London mindset, of cramped up kitchens and little space to move, the dancers were almost in a dream space, a sanctuary, somewhere spiritual. I cut this with a more naturalistic narrative of the poem, to highlight this motherly space in the marshes. It becomes an aspiration to be outside and when we finallyy get there, where the inside finds itself outside, we know we’ve truly opened the doors and spoken from our souls.
The music then became the final protagonist. As a performer, I have always been fascinated in dance and music. Something about the discipline which is so different to that of an actors, I’m in awe of. What Tim Doyle and the musicians managed to achieve astounds me. It transcends the words into a realm of deeper understanding. I wanted a drum roll at the end because theres something ancient about that instrument, a call to arms, a rallying of the warriors. My fascination in ancient forms of story telling has told me that music gives the soul and becomes the hand reaching out to hold you.
The whole experience for me was a continual type of therapy, having experienced panic attacks quite frequently during that time, directing it was both a battle and a mission. It will always remain imperative to me that we remain honest in our story telling. There’s nothing else other than that really.'
Cast: @thomgulgec ; @a_beatriz_meireles ; @ashley_morgan_davies ; @yuyurau ; @cescyknight ; @michaelameazza ; El Anthony, Rebecca Omogbehin
Director: Thalissa Teixeira