Magazine

Enter The BENCH

Kate Jackson in Red Road Dance TheatreAs we all know, the issue of female choreographers is one which has been haunting the dance industry for many years: while a lot can be said and done about it, not much has been said and even less has been done over the years.

Again, as we all know, the root of the problem is that we're working in an industry which is predominantly female yet the opportunities, recognition, commissions and awards typically go to the disproportionately small male minority. (Someone recently pointed out that New Adventures's original publicity for the next round of their Choreographer Award somehow omitted their two female winners from their mention of past winners; this has since been amended).

The topic of female choreographers is a proverbial iceberg in its own right, encompassing so many issues and areas, which is one of the reasons why it's been so hard to tackle this problem properly: because nobody understands it fully, and unless you understand what the problem is, it's hard to address it successfully.

Add a comment

Read more ...

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative

 DSC7893The Rural Touring Dance Initiative was launched today at the National Rural Touring Network's Annual Conference; although around four to five years in development, it was largely instigated by discussions at last year's conference, which also held the first ever NRTF dance showcase.

This is a new scheme which aims to address the current underrepresentation of dance in rural touring across the UK through offering residencies, seed funding, a £45,000 production award, workshops, and selecting eight artists or companies per year whose work will be toured between 2016 and 2018.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Ode to Trains

travel tourism railway ticket fare ticket train ticket train station mtun1001 lowOne thing we are used to in dance is the too-short runs which most shows have (unless it's a Matthew Bourne production), which typically leaves people with only one or maybe two chances to catch a show before it goes. And if you miss that chance to see it but really want to see it, what do you do?

Add a comment

Read more ...

Out, Damn Clot

families vampires families dinner time sons eat ksm0306 lowSomething different, for a change. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend will know that I've recently acquired a surfeit of blood clots, so I might as well write about them - seeing as I can't do much else while I wait to recover from them.

To most people, blood clots seem to be mythical beasties of sorts, which rarely exist outside of those lists of potential side effects. When we do hear about them, it's usually because someone's died from a clot: the Grey's Anatomy fans among us will never forget Denny's untimely demise due to a rogue clot. Damn. Other notable deaths include those of Frida Kahlo, James Stewart (actor) and Charles Chaplin Jr (son of Charlie Chaplin).

Add a comment

Read more ...

Resolution! 2015 In Figures

Photo of Jan Lee by Chantal Guevara

Being 300 miles away from London meant missing most of this year's Resolution! season at The Place.

So instead, based on each of the artists'/companies' programme notes, here's a breakdown of the scale of this year's Resolution! 2015.

Probably far more people were actually involved, but if they weren't actually credited... hopefully the choreographers will remember to include them next time. 

This probably would have made a pretty infographic, but I didn't have the patience to design one, sorry. 

Add a comment

Read more ...

The Beauty of Portfolio Careers

dollyDucks and water. Cats and milk. Tequila and lime. Chips and gravy. The Place and Mabel's. Yorkshire Dance and The Wardrobe. Beer and pretty much everything. Me and sofas. Some things just go together so naturally well. The same goes for the terms "dance artists" and "portfolio careers".  

I don't actually remember the first time I heard the term "portfolio career": it's been an established and accepted fact of the dance industry for that long, and it's a topic I discussed with Newcastle College's dance students a few weeks ago. I talked about how rich and rewarding the work is yet how crap the pay is, and they asked why people do this: because we love it. But also - which I didn't tell them - because we have no choice.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Resolution! Preview: Estela Merlos

TFR 4337

After many years of wanting to present Avatâra Ayuso's work as part of Cloud Dance Festival, she presented an excerpt of a new work, Balikbayan, in our November 2013 festival, performed by Estela Merlos, who was then a dancer with Rambert Dance Company. She completely amazed her colleagues who had never seen her move in such ways previously, and so it was little surprise that she chose to leave Rambert soon afterwards.

Having seen her first UK choreography at the end of 2013 and had several conversations with Estela about her future plans, it was about time I interviewed her ahead of her upcoming premiere at The Place on Saturday 24 January. Tickets are still available and can be bought from here.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Crazy Little Thing Called Paid Work

Will-NOT-work-for-free-initUnpaid work is one of the current buzzwords across the dance industry: we all want to talk about it and decry it, however these conversations lack a basic understanding of the role of unpaid work within our industry, how it is perpetuated, and under which circumstances it is acceptable. In an industry which has been forcibly shifted towards freelancing, how many of us can tell our landlord "I can't pay my rent, but check out this solo I'm working on"?

Between the end of 2012 and mid-2013, I conducted a number of interviews with people across the dance industry - from students and new graduates to midscale choreographers and artistic directors - about the issue of unpaid work within our industry. Around then, Dance UK had published an article containing statistics about paid and unpaid work in our industry, but I felt that further research was needed into the fine details of unpaid work, how it sustains our industry and impacts on its members. Only once we can put unpaid work within its wider context can we start to understand its function within the industry and how to place checks on it.

Add a comment

Read more ...

We Need To Talk About Unions

grumpy-cat-nicki-minajA few weeks ago, there was a huge outcry about the (then) latest audition notice from Royal Opera House, and the pittance offered as payment; Article19 originally drew attention to it, and refused to publish the notice, and the grumblings grew from there.

As we all know, the situation arose because Equity agreed a fee with ROH which has turned out to be embarrassingly and insultingly low, so now Equity has had to have a rather awkward conversation with ROH. Even more embarrassingly, ROH hasn't yet deigned to respond, but we don't want to talk about that in case we upset them.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Preshow Speech

funny-animal-pictures-102I'd planned to give a preshow speech before tonight's Cloud Dance Friends show to help explain its background and put it in context. But after a day spent running around the theatre (literally), I figured I'd not spent enough time thinking about it or preparing for it. So here's the speech which I would have given - and many thanks to everyone who attended tonight.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Made Up North

Lo Giudice DanceThursday 27 November at 7.30pm at Seven Arts, Leeds

Made Up North is a contemporary dance platform showcasing the works of dance artists either from the North, based up North or who have trained in the North, encouraging us to appreciate the diversity of work being created by the people of this region.

It is also an opportunity for people to discuss the changes to the dance industry in the North, what changes they want to see and their role within it. So basically, a show with a postshow talk!

Add a comment

Read more ...

Cloud Dance Friends

calvin hobbesWelcome to Cloud Dance Friends, a combination of an evening of contemporary dance and a birthday bash. It will also mark the one-year anniversary of the last Cloud Dance Festival, Showtime, so let's also hold a toast to its memory and raise a glass to Cloud Dance Festival's extra-shiny year ahead!

Cloud Dance Friends will be presenting a mixture of artists who have previously been showcased by Cloud Dance Festival (Autin Dance Theatre, Off The Map and Gerrard Martin Dance), artists who have previously performed in Cloud Dance Festival (Hal Hub, performing in John Ross Dance's Wolfpack in July and November 2013), and also two companies new to Cloud Dance Festival, Subtle Kraft Co and Spoken Movement.

For details of the full lineup, please visit Cloud Dance Friends.

Cloud Dance Friends will be held at London's New Diorama Theatre on Sunday 16 November at 7.30pm, and we are offering a discounted ticket price for dance artists so that this can be an evening to share with our friends. We hope to see you there!

Add a comment

Read more ...

Your Feedback Required

As I mentioned previously, I'm currently seeking advice across the industry on how to make Cloud Dance Festival relevant to dance artists' needs, and so I've put together a survey asking some of the key questions I need your feedback on, for example about how people create work, what their creative process is, and what support people receive and would like to receive.

Every response provides me with invaluable insights into how people work and what needs to be done to offer the support they need, so I would be very grateful if you can take the time to fill it out. Many thanks!

Add a comment

Read more ...

A conversation with Igor and Moreno

ACE IgorMoreno IdiotSyncrasy 750 x 459I was lucky enough to catch Igor and Moreno’s ‘Idiot-Syncrasy’ at The Place as part of Spring Loaded 2014. For 50 minutes they jumped, they sang, they became tired, they persevered; they shared their beautiful, delightful attempt to change the world. Their work settled into me powerfully and clearly, and didn’t need explanation. Nevertheless, I was curious to hear these eloquent dancer-maker-thinkers elaborate on their journey of making ‘Idiot-Syncrasy,’ and on some of the influences behind it. Soon, we were mulling over not just jumping and folk songs, but concepts of ownership and agency, the cycles of history, and the importance of time in the creative process. This is an excerpt of the full interview, as a preview for tonight's show at The Place, London; for tickets, please visit www.theplace.org.uk/igor-and-moreno-0

Add a comment

Read more ...

Dance Again Foundation Gala

Edward Watson as SpidermanInjury is all around us. Just yesterday, Alina Cojocaru was tweeting about it being the six-year anniversary of the surgery for a whiplash injury which could have ended her career while this morning, Lauren Cuthbertson sadly tweeted about a final-hour injury which has taken her out of the upcoming Royal Ballet performances of Manon.

For many, injury means a (substantial) recovery period before being able to return to dance, while others face a loss of confidence or not being able to dance again, and in a profession where pain is the foundation of people's everyday lives, simply having injuries checked out and treated can be one of the largest hurdles.

Add a comment

Read more ...

John Ross Dance

Just over two years ago, the dance world gathered at Sadler's Wells to watch the showcase of the first New Adventures Choreographer Award (NACA) winner, James Cousins: a showcase which quickly led to commissions in Chile and Singapore and which saw his duet 'There We Have Been' staged by dance companies around the world.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Dance Writers & Bloggers Sought

We are seeking to revive and expand the magazine section of our website and are seeking people interested in writing about dance and reviewing dance to contribute.

If you are a dancer, choreographer or work in the dance industry and are interested in regularly writing articles, features, conducting interviews and/or reviewing shows for us then please email us at write [at] cloud-dance-festival.org.uk including a link to your blog if you have one, and/or two samples of your writing.

Although many of the shows we review are in London, it's important to have a national perspective, so we'd like to hear from writers and reviewers from around the country.

We regret that we aren't in a position to pay our contributors, however free tickets will be offered for reviewing.

 

 

Add a comment

Feed TheImp!

A few weeks ago, Twitter notified me that someone from my high school was now following the @clouddancefest Twitter account. Curious to see what the @clouddancefest timeline actually looked like, I scrolled through it, to see that it was mostly full of tweets to Article19.

Online for nearly 15 years, for many people in the dance industry today, Article19 has always been there, either as a go-to place for auditions and workshops, the site's other features, including a rich video library, or the commentary on any number of issues affecting this industry we live in.

Add a comment

Read more ...

Ode To Audiences

b2ap3_thumbnail_TextingTheaters.jpg

Theatres attract such diverse audiences, and yet there is one thing which all audience members have in common: a universal loathing for those people who cannot put their phone away long enough to watch a full act of a show.

It's not as though theatres leave any room for ambiguity, normally: their anti-phone stance is typically outlined on their website, cast sheets and programmes, and usually addressed in the preshow announcement. And yet we will always get those people who feel that they are nonetheless above such strictures. Oh yes, they can text, email, tweet, check Facebook and so much more during a show - and that's just for starters! And unfortunately, due to funding cuts, too few theatres have the available ushers (and really long sticks / cattle prods / tasers) to keep audience members in line.

Add a comment

Read more ...