Monday, 20 May 2013 11:52
On 28 March, 2013, Adrian and Rosie shared an excerpt of Dad Dancing along with the film made about their R&D period at South East Dance Studios. Dad Dancing is a contemporary dance project reflecting on growing up into a dad and growing up into a daughter. We will next be sharing the work at Battersea Arts Centre on 18 May & 4 June
I was invited to contribute to the South East Dance Studios Scratch Night being part of their 'Creative and Business Development Programme' – and I leaped at the chance to share and receive feedback from an audience. It was a tricky decision as to what I could present, as I knew the whole Dad Dancing crew would not be able to be present, but in the period of developing the next stage of the project, I was keen to talk to more people about their views and the directions it could take. It was heart-warming to see the engagement of the audience with the project and to gage their feedback, but what I hadn't realised was how valuable it would be to see and discuss the other works on the night. It was a really useful experience to engage with a small and highly engaged audience of artists and public to discuss all the works that were presented on the evening. Hearing the discussions and feedback for other artists work gave me the opportunity to reflection on the decisions I had made and ask questions of them.
It was also a great experience to include my dad in because of our on-going process with Dad Dancing. Giving him an opportunity to express his ideas around dance and feedback to artists made him feel like he was able to confidently contribute to the dance-scene and it gave me an opportunity to listen to his ideas, be embarrassed (I'm not sure that ever wears off), realise I needn't be embarrassed and debate with him in the car on the way home. Within the Dad Dancing project, the daughters are constantly debating with the dads over the content in the piece – I think this will continue and we will probably always have very different ideas because of the different experiences we have had – but with each piece of dance we see together, there is more to discuss, talk about and understand about each others opinions. This is really what the Dad Dancing project is about and where is started; from the need to help our dads understand what we do, to give them the tools to discuss our work with us and the have the opportunity and starting points from which to discuss and reflect on our relationships.
I feel that this Scratch Night not only helped me to reflect on my project, but because of the friendly and comfortable atmosphere, the artists were able to risk discussing their work and opening it up to criticism and debate. I would definitely encourage more artists and public to support events like this to ensure strong and thought-provoking dance work is made by the next generation of dance-makers.
One of the great debates between Rosie and I is about audiences. Our last performance at South East Dance was hindered by severe delays on the M25 reducing the size of the audience. What we lacked for in numbers we made up for in quality and the discussions afterwards were both entertaining, rewarding and informative and I wondered if we'd have got the same feed back with a larger group. There is no doubt though that it is exhilarating to perform in front of a larger group and of course having put a lot of work into a piece it seems to make it more worthwhile if there are more to see it. But numbers aren't everything.
Rosie has read and written extensively about audience participation and I have had the privilege to discuss this with her at the formative stages. We agree that good art should provoke a reaction in those that watch - whether that be just like dislike, a political reaction, an emotional response, or some other sort of sensory feeling. Strong art has the possibility of provoking change - not necessarily in ways the artist may intend. And therein lies our debate.
Some art causes bafflement amongst the audience. For the cognoscenti, they can read the clues, spot the cultural references, see the historical context and detect the meaning of a piece. Not everyone is pre-informed. Many artists deliberately don't explain their work in order to glean as wide a base of reactions as possible. Sometimes this is at the risk of leaving some viewers out in the cold, unable to understand and often the result is that they are dismissive. On the other-hand if an artist gives too much information it risks that an audience only looks for what has been explained, missing deeper levels and perhaps interactions that could be unique to themselves.
So the debate we have is about the programme: do we provide just a title and list of performers and leave the interaction with the art entirely with the viewer? Do we explain in great detail and therefore potentially blinker the viewer. To what extend should we educate the viewer before they view the piece. It may seem patronising to suggest that people need to be taught how to view art but for many some art can seem unapproachable. Of course people don't have to read programme notes but bearing in mind most arrive early and have to wait for the start of a performance and bearing in mind a degree of natural curiosity it is hardly surprising if most do read the programme beforehand.
A solution might be to give the viewer a choice. Personally, for many years I have not been aware of the choice so how about a short note before an artists description of a piece suggesting that the programme notes might only be read after one had cogitated on one's own reactions to a piece or at least something to point out the potential drawbacks of reading the programme notes? More explanation might help those who do not have an arts background. Maybe there would be fewer derogatory headlines in the tabloids (though of course that sort of publicity can help bring in audiences). It might reduce the tag of elitism for some art. It might widen the appeal of art. And of course reading them would not be obligatory for those who wanted to free their own imaginations and who crave a more personal reaction to art.
Part of being a Dad is to allow your offspring to explore in a way that is appropriate to the age or stage of understanding. A child grows up from a stage of having to be spoon-fed to autonomous investigation and learning. Can the arts learn from this and also provide a range of explanations to help people grow in the arts?
Images by Zoe Manders 2013
Monday, 20 May 2013 11:08
Having recently started researching a new project called 'Dancing in Museums' (http://madebykatiegreen.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Dancing%20in%20museums)
I was really pleased to be invited to share some extracts from that research at the first South East Dance Studios Scratch Night. Very briefly, the Dancing in Museums project will culminate in the creation of a new dance piece for an audience of 7-11 year olds and their families (and is being created with input from members of our target audience). This piece will be created in collaboration with writer Anna Selby and will bring to life a series of museum artefacts such as a fossil, a Roman artefact, an Anglo-Saxon skull and a 'future artefact'. The work will be designed for performances in museums and heritage sites as well as theatres, and our adventures with the Dancing in Museums project will take us to a variety of places, from a natural history museum to a cave containing Ice Age art, a stately home to a former cotton-spinning mill.
This project is my most ambitious to date, and it is essential to me to receive feedback on the work-in-progress even in the early stages, and to assimilate this feedback to ensure that we are able to make the final work as effective as it can possibly be. However, even though I understand the importance of feedback, it can still be nerve-wracking to put work out into the world for the first time, when the sketch is still fragile, and you know yourself that there are lots of things you will probably change, develop or edit. By the time I took my new project to Hextable for the Scratch Night in March, I had already been living with it for about a year: recognising the first idea forming in my mind, researching it, discussing it with collaborators, applying for funding and speaking with partners. But until I had the opportunity to share it with an audience who didn't have any of that background knowledge, I didn't really know the potential of the idea; whether it could 'live' independently of me, and be meaningful, enjoyable, engaging to other people.
Sharing work for the first time can be unnerving, but it's also exhilarating to hear what other people have to say and can be very reassuring, particularly when you're in a supportive environment like the one that was facilitated by Kirsty Sulston, Louise Costelloe and the rest of the team at the South East Dance Studios. The Scratch Night was introduced by Kirsty, who set out the framework for the evening and the spirit in which we were being invited to comment on the work being shown. The various projects were shared in different ways – live performance, video and discussion, or a combination of all three. They took over many of the different parts of the building, and for me it was particularly helpful for the dancers (Lucy Starkey and Stuart Waters) to be able to perform in the foyer itself, drawing the audience into one of the studios. Each artist sharing work had been invited to ask their own specific questions and to take control of the way in which they wanted to receive feedback – therefore there were discussions, questionnaires, post-it notes, message boards and opportunities to draw and colour in (http://dad-dancing.org/wordpress/draw-your-dad/).
The freedom we had to make the evening our own meant that everyone was able to get what they wanted out of the Scratch Night, and because the artists sharing work also participated in the giving of feedback, there was perhaps a more than usual understanding of the responsibility everyone had to support, make constructive observations and give advice (where it had been asked for). As a result of participating in the Scratch Night, I collected a wealth of information about the content of our early Dancing in Museums research (including specialist geological feedback on our 'fossilisation' section, thanks to Adrian, of 'Dad Dancing' fame!), structure, interaction with the audience and use of text for example. All of that information will now be incorporated into my future-planning for the development of the work, helping me to progress choreographically but also essential in making my ongoing funding applications and requests for support come to life.
As the Scratch Night goes on to become more established, it will be interesting to see how it evolves, and what happens as the event begins to attract a more diverse audience. As it was I felt very privileged to be part of a community of artists who were all there because they wanted to learn more about doing what they loved to do.
Thursday, 09 May 2013 15:24
At the studios we held our first scratch night where choreographers were able to share ideas, new material and work in progress. It also allowed the audience to engage with new work, network and give feedback to artists. Artists and their work included Casandra Stelea 'Other's Moments' - a dramatic duet blending tango and contemporary, Katie Green a 10 minute extract of work-in-progress for 'Dancing in Museums', Cascade Dance 'A new place, different journeys', Rosie Heafford Artistic Director of Second Hand Dance gave a dance talk about 'Dad Dancing' and a showed a short extract of the work and Ieva Kuniskis performed 'Gone to get Milk' a physical theatre performance with three performers. So how do dance artists start from scratch? Here, Ieva Kuniskis gives us some insight;
Image by Judita Kuniskyte
This is how it goes in my mind: one morning I wake up with a genius idea, I immediately lock myself in a studio and emerge two months later with a masterpiece for all to admire and praise. Only, that is just not how it works. Before the masterpiece there is research and asking questions, and creative brick wall, getting things wrong and starting again. And there is the need to test things out and feedback.
Image by Ludo de Cognets
So on a particular breezy Thursday afternoon the dancers and myself set off, in a rented car with a dodgy clutch, to South East Dance studios in Hextable to share a development of Gone To Get Milk in their new Scratch evening. It is easy to disregard this as ‘oh, just another night for unfinished work’, however for a dance artist, such opportunities are invaluable. This is when we can step back, take a breath and evaluate where we’re at.
Image by Milda Vasile
Louise Costelloe, Public Programme Producer at the studios commented "it was a real pleasure to see new work being tested in our spaces on our first scratch night. We were very inspired by the dances we saw and look forward to hearing how the work develops. We are planning another night in Autumn 2013 and will be consulting with artists, audiences and our networks to make it a bigger and better event".
Monday, 25 March 2013 11:14
After six months of planning the day was finally upon us, and South East Dance hosted their first U. Dance regional platform at The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks. We were excited about doing it and eager to make it a good day for all!
It was an early start for the SED team who travelled to The Stag for a 10.30am, in time to welcome the eight selected groups an hour later. On arrival there was just enough time to allocate the dressing rooms, set up our registration desk at the stage door and welcome our special curtain raiser choreographer, Freddie Opoku-Addaie and his assistant, Maria.
My role for the day was to ensure all of the groups were briefed on how the day would run, keep them on schedule for their technical rehearsals and of course for the performance itself. It wasn’t long before the first groups descended and embarked on their first rehearsals on The Stag’s enormous stage, they were ably overseen by Studios Building Manager, Katy, alongside Stage Manager, Elise Avery and Lighting Designer, Morgan Jones.
The groups certainly had a packed day, if they weren’t tech-ing on the main stage they were throwing themselves into the curtain raiser workshop with Freddie and Maria.
As show time approached over 200 family and friends filled the theatre along with our U. Dance panel of judges who were faced with the tough decision of which two groups to select to take to the National final.
All of the groups performed brilliantly and the curtain raiser performance was especially praised for its originality. Luckily, SED colleague and photographer extraordinaire, Zoe was on hand to capture the best moments as you can see!
With the show over, the panel deliberated who the two finalists should be who we can now announce are Cascade Dance Academy and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance. Congratulations to all who took part and a huge thank you to the group leaders for taking the time to make sure their groups were so well-rehearsed. We hope you enjoyed the experience and to see you all next year!
Cascade Dance Academy
Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance
Photography by Zoe Manders
Sneak preview of Weightless rehearsals choreographed by Yael Flexer @danceanddigital - by Luci Napleton
Thursday, 28 February 2013 16:02
What do you think of when you look at the sky and then consider ground? What’s holding us down, gravity of course, I hear you say! This sneak preview of “Weightless” during the dancers’ rehearsals at the studios makes you understand the concept of this work in progress.
Hextable School students were invited to a sharing of one of Yael Flexer @danceanddigital rehearsals, before Christmas, and entered conversation with the Artist and dancers’:
“Gravity keeps us Grounded” Yael expresses and asks the dancers to consider sky and ground to help them when moving. “We go round and round in life and it’s gravity that keeps us grounded”. Hextable School’s students seem inspired and intrigued and ask Yael and dancers questions during their sharing.
Yael mentions that “we feel gravity in our bones every day and we fight against that”. This can be seen in the movement vocabulary and is developing as we blog.
Weightless, created with the company's 20th celebration in mind, carries Yael Flexer's recognisable stamp of wit and humour, combined with fast-paced, space-hungry movement and a driving musical score by cellist Karni Postel and composer Dougie Evans. A collaboration with Nic Sandiland, Weightless will also feature an immersive sound installation; disembodied voices that talk to both the audience and performers.
Alongside this, the work will feature confessional, wry and subversive text, written with renowned theatre and dance artist Wendy Houstoun, that reveal nuggets of autobiographical information about the performers, the choreographer and the making of the show.
Look out for “Weightless” it will surely bring you back down to earth.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 14:54
Following on from the success of Kent Dance Mix in November, South East Dance is hosting its second youth dance platform in March. U. Dance 2013 is a national programme run by Youth Dance England. The South East’s regional platform will this year be taking place at The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks. Last week we headed to the theatre for a much needed technical insight into what is needed before the big day on March 16th.
The stage at The Stag is huge, we are told on a tour of the theatre, possibly the biggest outside the West End. We had a look at all of the dressing rooms on offer and are now in the process of allocating the rooms to all of the different groups who will be performing. Back in December our panel reviewed all of the applications we had and the top nine have since gone forward to the regional platform at The Stag. Our winners from the South East will then go forward to the National Final in Leeds, in July.
It’s an really exciting but busy time in the lead up to such a big event, posters for the theatre are being printed and displays for local centres such as the library are being decided on. We can’t wait to see so much talent on display in one place with the addition of a special curtain raiser performance, details to be announced shortly.
Tickets are available now through The Stag Theatre. Please visit their site http://www.stagsevenoaks.co.uk/whats-on/16-Mar-2013/
Photographs from Kent Dance Mix 2012 by Zoe Manders
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 16:10
Last week at the SED studios we were lucky enough to have the very energetic ‘Prodigal Theatre Company’ rehearsing with us. They are an ‘award winning ensemble investigating the audience-performer relationship through defiantly theatrical stagings of work which is epic within a small frame. A philosophy of experimentation has led them from intimate in-the-round storytelling through promenade Jacobean tragedy and out onto the streets for the wordless drama of dance at speed and height on the Urban Playground.’
“From free running to opera, Prodigal Theatre covers an unusual – perhaps unique – number of bases… whatever Prodigal does is worth seeing” Irish Independent.
They were rehearsing for a new work called ‘Run This Town’ where the performers used Parkour Performance, a mixture of Parkour and contemporary dance along with some stylised slap-stick comedy. 'Run This Town' tells the story of the modern workplace and commuter. It displays the many different characters (The boss, the underdog, the PA, the new guy) and the many struggles and conflicts that arise that are so very recognisable.
The company consisted of 4 men and 2 women who weaved themselves aggressively and elegantly through a large metal frame which offered a variety of levels and heights. This proved to be a perfect setting for their performance. The frame allowed the dancers to display the office hierarchy by having the ‘bosses’ office on the top level. The dancers completely blew us away with the complexity of their routine and how they swung and weaved themselves around the ‘office’ and how they injected a lot of humour in the characters and their use of slap-stick gestures.
We are all very much looking forward to watching the finished product and have since been swinging our way to the water dispenser.
Prodigal are an associate company of the Brighton Festival and Dome, and the Nightingale Theatre which they ran from 2002 until 2010 contributing to the development of over 100 new pieces of theatre and dance. The company Patron is Steven Berkoff.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:57
Our Associate Artist Ben Duke was the first recipient of the Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award in September 2011. As a part of this he has been engaging in research into spontenaity and has been capturing some of his thoughts in his blog.
Thursday 1 November
"Work that exists between dance and theatre – I say that a lot. I know what I mean but I don't imagine anyone else does. Maybe like colours, like all words in fact, the two words are signifiers, they represent concepts but we will never really know if these concepts are the same from one mind to the next. But that is the joy! I guess."
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 12:05
Toni Grove, Artistic Director for Probe Dance and one of our Associate Artists, is testing out new creative models for working with a range of new collaborators at our studios.
Toni (Choreographer), Greig (Dancer), Ben (Writer) and Jo (Director) are working collaboratively through an equal process involving
“Writing, Direction and Choreography”
They explained in more detail;
Ben – “It’s a mix of roles, I am a writer, I do not run, dance or dialogue however we are moving together through this process and through making the material you are learning how to work together and generating ideas”
Greig – “It gives space for the process, what the piece could potentially be”
Ben – “The piece already exists, it’s about the journey”
Toni – “It will be a week of research and work-shopping ideas as we improvise scenes with instruction”
Jo – “I intercept with instructions that are simple and open. The dancers are saying as they are doing ‘You are Giants and trees are breaking under your feet’, an open ended instruction. Like a big brush stroke, by taking away the literal you add more layers so it becomes more complex”
Toni – “This is the same in dance and through this working process we’ll develop a piece which will be shared at the Point in Eastleigh at the end of January 2013” (11 January 2013 at 3pm, contact zoe.manders@southeastdance for more information and to book a place)
The narrative and movement seem separate, however, when the seen together through ‘say as you do’ the two seem to interweave. We look forward to seeing the sharing and thank you to the Artists for allowing us to view the process which is an exciting concept.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 11:49
Welcome to the Artists' section of our blog. Artists are at the heart of what we do here at South East Dance, so it only felt appropriate for us to find a space here on our website for them to share thoughts and musings on their work. We begin by introducing a blog by our Associate Artist Antonia Grove. As she explores ideas for her new work with Probe, Running on Empty (working title), you can follow her progress (along with contributions from her collaborators) here.
Running commentary - Monday 17 December
"Surely everyone can run?
It is a primitive instinct. Escape from danger. Hunt for food. Get home before sun down. Pleasure. Excitement. Gameplay. Foreplay probably.
But running is typically a solitary act. It strikes me you have to be happy in your own company, in your own head, in order to run long distance. Or rather, happy to get out of your head and into a kind of void."
Blog posts may include adult themes.
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- ► 2012 (23)
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- • Kent Dance Mix is all over... can't wait 'till next year! By Louise Costelloe
- • 'An excellent display of dance moves left everyone amazed' - By Gary Carter Miskin Radio
- • Family fun for all at the Studios…By Freya Finnerty
- • KENT DANCE MIX: Ready, steady, go...
- • The Studios are mixing it up! By Freya Finnerty
- • Welcome to the South East Dance Studios blog
- ► August (1)
- ► July (2)
- ► June (9)
- • Rehearsals in full swing at Milton Keynes. By Kathryn Evans
- • Big Dance Day at The Arc, Caterham. By Kathryn Evans
- • Cathy Waller choreographs for Most Wanted Crew for the Hampshire Torch Relay. By Kathryn Evans
- • The Arch of Starch interview - Big Dance launch. By Kathryn Evans
- • The Caucus Race rehearsals in Oxford. By Kathryn Evans
- • A familiar face is a new audience member at Big Dance 2012 events in Hastings. By Rowena Price
- • Hofesh Shechter at Helenswood School in Hastings for Big Dance 2012. By Kathryn Evans
- • Brighton Dance Collective rehearse with Jason Keenan-Smith for the BBC big dance Exchange. By Kathryn Evans
- • Big Dance 2012 South East England