Next Choreography 2016-17

I will get rid of the ivy myself

To gather people with the same passion, with different roots, like the leaves on the same tree. Not the ivy, but a tree planted by Karla Shacklock in Bristol on November 2.

Karla Shacklock has been touring the UK this autumn with her project Getting out of the box, an open-minded form of shared counseling on what it takes to be a dancer nowadays. The event took place at the Trinity Arts Centre, where, in a giant circle, we engaged the conversation. Some renowned dancers were invited and offered their perspectives. Straight away, Laïla Diallo (former dancer with Wayne McGregor’s dance company, independent choreographer) invigorated the “out of the box” thinking by saying that she would always fill her pockets with possibilities, ask herself “what if I tried this or that?” constantly, and look up from the microcosm of her practice. Adesola Akinleye (founder of DancingStrong) mentioned that she once moved into a house where the garden was invaded with ivy. She contacted gardeners to get rid of it, but it was too expensive. In the end, she decided to get rid of the ivy herself. This decision gave her a sense of empowerment and an occasion to create a personal space. The same sense happening through choreography. A way to change and appropriate her environment, create an energy leading somewhere. She also pointed out that, as artists, we have the privilege of reflection and ought to become friend with the reflecting process.
Equally, Lois Taylor (founder of Attik Dance, former Dance lecturer at Falmouth University and now freelance dancer), defined thriving as being one with her body, her body dancing with other dancing bodies. The relationship to the body has to be the priority. There is no distinction between doing and being the dance. There is no aim to go anywhere, nor anything to chase or compare; it is all already within.
Vicki Amedume (founder of Upswing), Jo Fong (former performer with DV8 Physical Theatre, Rosas and Rambert Dance, independent choreographer), and Helen Wilson (founder of Rise Youth Dance company), were also present; whilst Lucy Suggate had written a survival letter for Karla Shacklock to share, an invitation to “insane curiosity”, grit and determination.
We took part in a general conversation, a blessing, inspiring and revitalizing. A spring of trust surged. We made our days through building up our own little manifestos, mixing up each other’s tips, doubts, honesty, wonder, wisdom, excitements, ambitions, mistakes and commitment.

And I left thinking: there is everything to learn and everything to question, it starts with trust within and amongst each other, and finally, I’d be most interested in what a manifesto from the Next Choreographers would look like. Something to merge between our weekly book of words and our intention to challenge potentiality. Hence why I wanted to share this event.
Likewise, the first month of Next Choreography has already proved to be our place to think out of the box, through the questioning and reflecting, the genuineness of our being there and the variety of performances and people to meet.
Just a month.








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Jerome Bel – Gala 18/10/16

Gala Cast

Colourful, fun – Gala (Photo Josefina Tommasi)


On a cold, dark autumn night, Next Choreography had their spirits lightened by Jerome Bel’s ‘Gala’ – performed at Sadler’s Wells. It certainly wasn’t your average Tuesday evening – with wacky vibrant costumes, uplifting music and light hearted humour; Bell explores the individuality of dance, stereotypes within dance, whilst also celebrating the sheer pleasure dance can bring all of us. Despite the chaos that appeared to be unfolding on stage, it is clear that the cast were meticulously selected to ensure a perfectly diverse array of dancers (and non-dancers) – from the bounding ballerina to a sassy six year old to an old man with braces and a surprising sense of rhythm.

Opening the show was a series of images of different types of stages – puppet show, amphitheatre, West End theatre- you name it, the lot; although I did begin to think the whole show could just be pictures which made me die a little inside with boredom, when the show began to unfold it related well to the message on stage – everyone has their own way of doing things, every one has their own stage, everyone has their own talent, no-one is right or wrong, no talent is better than another talent.

Highlights of the show included when the entire cast all swapped costumes, watching a 70 year old man tying to copying a six year old dancing to Miley Cyrus and everyone’s interesting attempts to Moon Walk like Michael Jackson. The show was precisely timed so the audience were just on the brink of boredom before the section changed suddenly. It was both predictable and exciting at the same time – who would the cast copy next, what style will they do this time ? The most poignant moment was also when a young disabled dancer stood up out of his wheelchair, although this also made me feel a bit uncomfortable – was it incredibly patronising to him when the audience applauded and whooped? This is where I am left very uncertain, and many questions hang over my head such as; why is it acceptable to laugh at some of the dancers but not others? How do you choose a diverse cast, what do you look for ? How much of the show was actually choreographed, how much was improvisation? If it is choreography, is it the true style of the performers ? Inspired by the pictures at the beginning I was left wondering how different would this show be on another stage- I am sure if it was in a hall it would definitely look like a wedding reception with all the family dancing.

Overall this show did truly perk-up my week and most importantly made me want to get up dance ! It would be great to see again but with a different cast, and new a set of talents.


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On track

Baker Street station, 06/10/2016

Baker Street station, last Thursday, on my way back from Siobhan Davies Dance.

Maybe choreography could be as simple as a sign: THIS SIDE UP. Three words and an arrow to direct people’s movements in space. Isn’t that a form of choreography? I would go as far as saying that it’s an attempt to organise a crowd-reograhy when stations are busiest. And how reassuring is that?

During the first session of Next Choreography 2016-2017, two weeks ago, we tried to define choreography and discussed various aspects of it. I jotted down so many points that I left the studio with questions marks all over my head. On that day, the journey home didn’t help me come up with a satisfactory answer.

But suddenly, randomly, a bit of an answer has come. And I’m curious to see what kind of ideas the coming weeks will bring me.

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And so we begin… Next Choreography 2016/17

Our third year of Next Choreography has begun!

We are super excited to be working with this year’s group of 15 young choreographers and our new facilitator Amy Bell.

4 weeks in and we have defined choreography (!), created solos connected to our choreographic interests, debated ‘uncreative creativity’ with Martin Hargreaves and watched Primal Matter by Dimitris Papaioannou as part of Dance Umbrella. Bring on the remaining 32 weeks jam packed with choreographic explorations, making and experimenting, and sharing through this blog and our Next Choreography Festival! (Save the date: Sat 8 July 2017!).

As Learning and Participation Producer at Siobhan Davies Dance I have been blessed to work with 27 dynamic, thoughtful, inquisitive young artists through Next Choreography so far, and this year is certainly going to be no different.

Watch this space for posts from our Next Choreography 2016/17 participants.


Meet the group (minus 2 participants!)


Excited about watching Primal Matter by Dimitris Papaioannou


Post-performance discussions

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