When you are in university studying to become an expert in your chosen field, it is easy to slip into tunnel vision as you focus all your attention on one specific subject. Theatrical performances are however almost always the joint effort of a whole range of expert creators and building good creative relationships and understanding the contributions and needs of other art forms and artists is an invaluable skill for future theatre makers to have.
Every year at London Contemporary Dance School, the third year students get the chance to practise their team working spirit and experience collaboration across multiple disciplines. The dance students get to work on projects together with designers from Wimbledon College of Arts, composers from Guildhall School of Music & Drama and moving image students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, to devise performances that challenges each artist to contribute their particular expertise as well as broaden their minds.
The students have worked on their projects for nearly 2 months now, starting with a week of intensive workshops. First, the students who have expressed interest in being choreographers get a chance to meet with the composers, film makers and designers, to build a relationship as a group first. They get set up with lots of tasks and ideas to work on and are encouraged to try different collaborators and mix it up for the week, so they feel like they’ve had a chance to interact with everybody and start to recognize who they are most drawn to. The choreographers and the dancers are then put together and get paired with a collaborator from another school to build a relationship and a common artistic language to create something together. They are encouraged to really collaborate from the very beginning. “Even though they are working in different art forms and are specialists in their own field at that point, the idea is that they work together every step along the way”, says Sue MacLennan, Head of Choreography. The film makers are in the rehearsal studio and the choreographers are in the edit suite at the end. They are present and making decisions together.
“That’s very much the idea for all of them”, says Rick Nodine, Lecturer in Choreography and Improvisation, “with design, neither should be able to exist without the other, not the dance piece without the design nor the design without the dancers.”
“I’d say the same thing about film”, Gabriela Tropia, Lecturer in Dance and Technology agrees. “If the piece could exist in the body but not on film or as film but not in the body then they didn’t achieve their aim.”
The results of the collaborations will be a fully formed, finished performance or film for a paying public. It is a wonderful opportunity to also invite students from other arts universities to discover The Place and experience our theatre.
At Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a variety of projects with other venues are on offer for their students, but this particular collaboration is really popular with the composers, reveals Lauren Potter, Lecturer in Choreography and Improvisation. “It’s a real eye-opener for them! The challenge of working with a choreographer and seeing the whole thing come together with dance - they’ve never experienced anything like it before.”
It is an enormous challenge for all of the artists, the musicians, composers, choreographers, designers, dancers and film makers and that is exactly how the faculty intends it to be – “It should be mind-blowing”.
London Contemporary Dance School Collaborations are on show in the Robin Howard Theatre at 7.30pm on 6 & 7 Dec (Music Collaborations), 11 Dec (Moving Image) and 12 & 13 Dec (Design Collaborations). Buy your tickets here.