In the end of June the Postgraduate students and staff from the DFT department were invited to share a collaboration experience guided by the Map Consortium crew. The workshop was part of the Research Skills through Collaboration project of the department and supported by the University of Surrey. Curated by the Dance Lecture Jennifer Jackson, since 2009 the series has been providing different opportunities for the current postgraduate scholars and practitioners in performance from the University of Surrey to explore interdisciplinary collaborative skills and develop creative and innovative approaches to research. The second edition of “Point: Counterpoint”  was a day of experiments aiming to investigate the creative dialogue between movement, sound and film.

The group of collaborators was composed of dance, film and music staff and students including external guests. Inside the brand new Ivy Performing Arts Centre the hands-in workshop was divided into morning and afternoon sessions. It started off with an introduction to the work leaving each participant with the curious thoughts of what was really going to happen. We were invited to understand and explore different approaches into collaborative composition of interdisciplinary art pieces.

Going through the exercises proposed by the facilitators, it was interesting to notice the way in which the gaze and imagination of each one transformed the view and imagination of the other in a constant feedback process. Together we realized how each person can change and influence on what the other is thinking and doing and how collaboration can change the pathways of the work and can reach unexpected results.

Different than most (and usual) collaborations in which one person has an idea and selects other disciplinary experts to join in with their know-how, all activities proposed in the workshop involved the beginning of a new idea by each team. Although this approach is seldom explored it provides the collaborative partners an enhanced fertile ground on which to work on.

The afternoon was set for a single exercise where we were to create a collaborative performance from the scratch. There was no fixed style to be followed. The only requirement was that the whole group should be involved in all stages of the process.  We worked together with enthusiasm till the performance time. In the end of the day we were able to discuss the process and results of each work presented.

Although my current PhD research does not involve collaboration, this workshop was extremely important to enlighten creative approaches into my own thinking. Regardless that it was only a small taste of the numberless possibilities of collaboration, it was interesting to learn (and live through) that many times we anticipate and struggle to know everything that is going to happen from the start of a process. However this can kill opportunities, creative methods and possible outcomes. On this workshop we were given a chance to ease our anxiety and let ourselves take the risk and discover the beauty and richness of the unknown, something that we tend to instantly rush through in our daily research lives.

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I Don’t believe in Outer Space was William Forsythe’s recent dance piece brought to Sadller’s Wells in London in the end of February. The North American artist is known for his career of twenty years  (1984-2004) in the Frankfurt Ballet, where he established what could be called his (unique) choreographic language. Today Forsythe has his own dance company based in Frankfurt – The Forsythe Company – where he has been developing his artistic and choreographic practices.

Most of the post graduates from the DFT witnessed this exceptional dance performance of 1 hour and 20 minutes on the 22nd or 23rd of February. One week after the performance the community of researchers was engaged in a Choreographic Forum, organized by the Society for Dance Research and curated by two DFT researchers: Efrosini Protopapa and Lise Uytterhoeven. The Forum was kindly hosted by The Place on the evening of the  2nd of March which received as guests speakers Dr. Helena Hammond, Lecturer from the DFT and Tamara Tomic-Vajagic from Roehampton University.
After an introduction from a social-historical point of view presented by Hammond and a body perspective given by Tomic-Vajagic, all of the present researchers were invited to compose smaller groups according to each one’s subject of interest.

In the discussion group that I joined we shifted between different topics such as Forsythe’s uses of Rudolf Laban’s movement principles as a guide and foundation to his choreographic language; Forsythe not as a simple choreographer, but as an institution; his uses of contemporary popular culture as a choreographic motif; the presence of a dramaturg in Forsythe’s choreographic process; and his generosity as an artist – as he reveals his creative process on the public conversations he offers before his company’s performances.

The evening ended with a positive engagement between  DFT’s Lecturers, Postgraduate Researchers and the community of Dance Researchers based in UK,  having an opportunity to exchange and debate different views on Forsythe’s choreographic practice.

*Dance Film and Theatre Department of the University of Surrey
**Society for Dance Research

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