Home Solo: building intimacy with suffering, beauty and self-hood

Home Solo

Building intimacy with suffering, beauty and selfhood … coming home

Performed and made by dancer Hayley Matthews and multi-instrumentalist Hej Jones.

In 2010 Hayley came off her bike on Shepherds Bush Road in London, and broke her jaw in 2 places. She felt as if she stood beside herself for many years to come; like her spirit had left. Home Solo was Hayley tracking her way back home to her body, finding her artistry as her only sanctuary in facing a world that seemed to reflect her inner disorientation at every turn.

Photo credit: Al Simmons

Photo credit: Al Simmons

Not able to inhabit her dancing body to begin with, Hayley wrote poems, these weave in and out of the show in word, in sound, in song and in pathways of string, leading her back inside herself. What she lands on by the end, is her nervous system still moving at great speed, and having to accept this for now. It was hard to relate to others at that time, and until the end, she doesn’t see her fellow artist Hej Jones who seems a distant friend or accomplice until he gets on the drums and meets Hayley at the speed she’s in.


In the making of the show Hayley and Hej dialogued with others on the journey home through a series of workshops: students, people moved to the UK from elsewhere, young people with learning disabilities, other musicians and dancers; you hear their voices also, and Ensemble are grateful to them for their contributions and for expanding the exploration of what it means to go back home to inhabit your body, even if this means we meet suffering, beauty or difficulty.

We need artists of this calibre making work as engaging and insightful as this.” Pasco-Q Kelvin, Director of the Norwich Arts Centre

Contemporary dance for our times, a powerful female perspective.” Adrian Bristow, Director Brighton Spiegeltent

“A show for anyone who has ever wanted to get home...” Hayley Matthews

The music is performed on the butone, acoustic guitar and with recorded voice forming the basis of a powerful synthesised drum solo, as well as opening up into full length song written together by Matthews and Jones. 

The audience is seated close to the performers in the round in this 45-minute show and can see the grace and the beauty as well as the stumbles and hard work. We hope audiences have space and time to journey with what getting back home is for them, and to be in their own skin, bathed in movement and sound. 

Co-commissioned by Norwich Arts Centre, supported by Arts Council England, Dance East and Norfolk County Council

Photo by Pulp & Pith

Photo by Pulp & Pith

Photo credit: Al Simmons

Photo credit: Al Simmons

I started making Home Solo at a time and in a place where I didn’t feel at home at all. I think perhaps it was about coming back not striving on; back to myself and to my life as a dancer.

Having needed to find a way back I ended up wading right back to myself, and having to scrub all the pots and pans of what had become messy on the way. Opening to others from there, in all the research we’ve done with students, musicians, people come to the UK from elsewhere, has been both challenging and powerful.

I’m not saying I found the answers, or that I’m now mess free! For me it’s been about finding a space where I can rest on the inside and then relate to others, and about making dance on my own terms, from how very personal patterns and experiences unfold in my body. About feeling at home as a dancer, as a woman, and as Hayley.

The show is also bigger than just my experience; I think it unveils an experience we can all relate to – the journey home, not to a place but to a way of being, which is difficult to put your finger on, which is why dancing it has been important.

The show also feels to me like a re-imagining of boundaries, poignant now, in the context of today’s politically charged debates on our borders and boundaries in the UK. For me, the re-imagining, the way through the turmoil, has to start with the individual. We have to learn to sit with ourselves, the suffering, the hurt, the anger, the beauty and to develop good boundaries and to be comfortable in our own skin (our own border line), before we can even think of beginning to relate to others, or our political border lines. To do this we need to develop independence, interdependence, resilience and be ok with utter vulnerability, with only our skin, no fort, no wall, no political boundary to protect us.”
— Hayley Matthews


For tour pack and inquiries contact Ensemble at mail@ensembledance.org

Photo by Pulp & Pith

Photo by Pulp & Pith