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Arnolfini - est 1961

Dan Johnson closes his Arnolfini residency with a showcase of brand-new ensemble works composed in and specifically for our theatre space.

Ecstatic Drum Beats (EDB) is both a live performance collective and creative education project. Combining traditional and experimental approaches to percussion playing with performance art, EDB draws influence from the Judson Dance Theater, Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening practice, the Abramovic Method, and La Pocha Nostra along with the work of percussionists Milford Graves, Midori Takada, Twin Seven Seven, Greg Fox, and Susie Ibarra.

Inspired by his time as percussionist with Dali de Saint Paul’s ‘EP/64’ – an improvised music and visual art collective which included over forty artists performing in sixty-four unique configurations – Dan sought a collaborative context in which to further develop his skills as a composer and performer.

During his residency Dan has been exploring site-specific and performer-specific composition – compositions in the broadest sense – curation could be a more appropriate word. EDB pieces are often aleatory, sometimes choreographed, and leave lots of room for improvisation. Scores are frequently text-based or graphic, rarely using conventional staff notation, and almost always brief.

Utilising the unique creative skills of each of his collaborators and the sensitive, resonant acoustics of the Arnolfini theatre, the Ecstatic Drum Beats group will share a distinctive performance which by its nature cannot be repeated.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – M.K. Gandhi

“Sometimes you have to play loud to get the truth out” – Elvin Jones

Ecstatic Drum Beats Group: Saffiyah Abibu, Sumaya Hassan-Murphy, & Dan Johnson.

“A mesmerising evening of experiment, bizarreness and shining beauty. This was minimalist music taken further than soundings, incorporating movement, stillness and togetherness….A fascinating evening of what can be achieved within precise time constraints marked by the ticking of a kitchen alarm.” – Leona Jones (WordsSoundSpaces)

“Is it music, art or even a comedy show? This eclectic ensemble keeps you guessing throughout, with unexpected sounds, movement and laughs. I imagine every show is different, with logical choreography, I try to recognise the pattern, but sooner rather than later I surrender and enjoy the organised chaos. Using a variety of percussion plus anything on stage that makes a sound, the performance plays with your expectations and keeps you listening.” – Claudia Capocci (Cafe Cloudywaaa)

With support from special guests:

Iman Sultan West (she/they) is a Pakistani/White British poet, artist and curator. As director and co-founder of @shiiku._community, she aims to create intentional and safe spaces for the people of Bristol. Their poetry uses humour and rhythm; weaving a path to understanding heritage, neurodiversity, mental health, queerness and relationships.

Andrew Neil Hayes shares a rare live performance of ‘Five-Suit Kung-Fu‘.

“Tomorrow I’m putting on five suits and doing kung fu.”


“I’m doing a performance tomorrow, where I’m gonna put on five suits and do kung fu. It’s for my art.”

“What does it mean?”

“Oh nothing, it doesn’t mean anything.”

“That’s cool, I like art that doesn’t mean anything.”

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