I first met David and Sylvia Selzer – www.sylviaselzer.com – many years ago when, as a child, I would go to watch my parents rehearsing plays at Chester Little Theatre. At first I saw them as newcomers (if younger) joining a group of eccentric and opaque would-be-actors, producers, and set designers, who were also surrogate aunties and uncles to my sister and me. Gradually, as I grew up, I became more aware of their vitality, curiosity and creative urgency, and I no longer thought of them merely as two in a crowd, but as my own special friends. I loved to spend time with them in Hoole, a suburb of Chester. (I still think of their house as the perfect place to be – where I feel deeply rested and at the same time awake to all that’s good in life). I wanted to be a dancer, and a writer, and I would take David’s collection of poetry Elsewhere from my bookshelf, and read with awe and wonder. It spoke to me of a world beyond the narrow existence of my life so far. Maybe one day I would have my own work published?
I left Chester for London when I was 18 to study on a new Performance Arts degree course, based at Trent Park – the home of the poet Siegfried Sassoon. It was a wonderfully free and creative time and I loved being near London, travelling to see shows every weekend and attending dance classes during the week. From London I went to Amsterdam to attend the State Theater School for a year, inspired a performance I’d seen at Riverside Studios by the Dutch dancer Pauline de Groot. I lived for six months in an 18c Dutch merchant’s house round the corner from Anne Frank’s secret annexe, where my bedroom window looked over the same tree and church tower that Anne wrote about in her diary. It made me aware of how recent German Occupation had been, and how different it felt in the Netherlands from home.
On returning to England, I formed a small dance company in the East Midlands, touring dance theatre in schools, arts centres and theatres, but I didn’t forget my time in Amsterdam. In many ways that year formed a foundation of experience from which I could teach, choreograph, perform – and, years later, write.
I began writing fiction twenty years ago, during a hiatus in my dance career. Over a period of ten years I was published by Chester University Press, Mslexia, Cinnamon Press, Shoestring Press and Radio 3 website, for The Verb.
In 2013 I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with an MA Distinction in Writing, and won the Blackfriars Open Submission in 2015. You can read more about my dance, and writing life, on my website www.movingthemind.co.uk
For many years I lost touch with David and Sylvia, until one summer day, when I was in Chester looking after my aging parents, Sylvia turned up with another old friend to visit my mother. It was a joyful reunion. I had the biggest smile on my face, and years of memoires flooded back. I went round to visit the next day, and it was as if we’d never lost contact.
Since that day I see both David and Sylvia as key – with their openness and positivity – in supporting the development of my writing. They were also with me during the difficult months leading up to my father’s death, which I’ve written about in my memoir Upside Down in a Hoop (to be published by Cinnamon Press – https://cinnamonpress.com/ – in 2022)
Shortly before my father’s death in 2016 my first novel The Green Table – https://cinnamonpress.com/the-green-table/ – was published. It was inspired both by my time in Amsterdam and by the true story of the choreographer Kurt Jooss’ fleeing Germany with the rise to power of the Nazi Party and Hitler. My second novel The Dancer at World’s End –https://cinnamonpress.com/the-dancer-at-worlds-end/, published in May 2021, is, in part, a sequel to The Green Table. It continues my preoccupation with Germany, the war and post-war period, through the eyes and voice of my main protagonist, Gregor von Loeben, the son of a high-ranking Nazi.
I write at a desk in Haarlem Arts Space in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, alongside three other writers, often gazing from the window at the calves frolicking on the hillside. We share the Arts Space with many visual artists, and several dogs who come along with their artist owners. I leave my own dog at home as he has a habit of visiting everyone’s wastepaper bin.
To earn a living I teach movement and ballet, mainly for older people. As a challenge I’m learning aerial arts at Circus School in Sheffield and Derby, and I hope to create a performance involving text, dance and aerial work, as a development from my memoir Upside Down in a Hoop.
Thank you to David for offering this platform for sharing the opening section of my second novel The Dancer at World’s End, and memoir Upside Down in a Hoop.
Click to open .pdf in new window:
©Tricia Durdey 2021