Between March and July 2014, London Contemporary Dance School and Artist Development at The Place piloted a new initiative – Exit Visa. Created for recent graduates , the programme supports young choreographers as they transition their artistic practice into the current, dance and performance scene. It offers them an intensive experience , working with each other and invited established artists, during which they can explore and question their performance making practice, investigating how a personal, artistic voice can flourish. For this pilot the six graduates came from Trinity Laban, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and London Contemporary Dance School, through a process of invitation via the school’s course leaders.
Facilitating the programme and guiding the young artists through the process was choreographer Joe Moran who spoke to us about the process.
Over the course of several intensive sessions, the group looked at a whole range of focuses, their practice as an artist and how that can be supported. An amazing array of extraordinary artists, including Wendy Houstoun, Rosemary Butcher and Igor and Moreno came in to do immersive work with the choreographers.
The programme also explored working with cross-artform collaborators and how this can provide provocations and departure points for both artists involved in the process. The Exit Visa cohort spent time visting a gallery exhibition together and in the studio of a visual artist exploring the similarities and differences between visual and movement based research and development. Time was also spent looking at how the participants would be able to gather all of the information and ideas from the sessions together and take some of ideas forward within their own professional development.
The intention of the project was always to look at practice, how the artists worked and where they were going in their future development. Exit Visa did not necessarily require the artists to make pieces, however, through the process some really interesting work started to emerge.
One artist started making a lot of participatory work – very funny, really interesting and something she had never done before. It had just emerged from some of the artist led sessions. Another artist really picked up on some work we did with Wendy Houstoun on considering the role movement plays in their work and the use of text and narrative, beginning a whole new work around text, voice and language.
There were also several direct outcomes from the project – two artists took part in the Fringe Shorts project at The Place over the summer and another artist began developing his own project for young hip-hop artists which was really informed by Exit Visa.
The project gave a very unusual context for very recent graduates to have space and support to exhaustively interrogate their practice at a crucial moment in their career. Along the way, the group were challenged – exploring what practice is and how we talk about our work. From the very beginning, we really challenged each other to ask ‘what do you actually mean by that?’ and as such we created a very rewarding environment where it became about an exchange of practice and it felt like an artistic, professional process that we were in together. We were very definite that it should support the individuality of the artists rather than putting something on them and the success of it can be seen in the unexpected and differing ideas and outcomes that have manifested from it.
Following the success of the pilot we’re already planning the next edition which will run in Spring 2015.