Performance Research Programmes
DRS has emerged from artistic practice and many years of experience; this has sketched out the contours of its activities since its foundation in 2003. It curates cross-disciplinary performance research programmes both in-house and in partnership with other national and international organisations. It has delivered three major programmes, funded by the Arts Council of England and other project partners: ‘ABOUT US’ (2017/19); ‘Crossing Paths R&D’ (2016); and ‘Stepping Stones’ (2014/15).
Since its foundation in 2002, Dance Research Studio (DRS) has constantly sought to support and promote inclusive practice, artistic ambition, risk taking, collaboration, environmental responsibility and bold leadership. The organisation is part of a national ecology of UK smaller arts organisations that offer flexible off and online access and resources to mainly freelance, innovative artists who often work across disciplines. This community takes risks, generates new strategies and finds ways of working that are relevant to many different and diverse communities; traditionally it feeds mainstream culture with fresh talent and ideas, often without due recognition.
DRS will continue to offer vital support to the independent performing arts community, who are primarily freelance practitioners identified as economically very vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis (and beyond). Chaired by Artistic Director Jacky Lansley, DRS will have a dialogue with 12 artists through online group meetings and shared writing. Participants will be asked to reflect on issues they face as freelance, independent artists, concerning: identity, visibility, professional context and economic stability – and how organisations, including DRS, could expand support and contribute to positive change. The Free Artist? project outcomes will be published online and in paper format in order that a wider community can respond and join the conversation.
‘We Are Animals’ aims to engage with the urgent cultural momentum driving forward awareness about environmental sustainability and animal extinction – and make a valuable research contribution through remembering that we too are animals. Dance Research Studio (DRS) in collaboration with Dance4/iC4C is curating a new programme of performance research, Artist Residencies, CPD workshops, discussion and writing for 2020.
Originally scheduled to take place at DRS and Dance 4/iC4C in the spring-summer of 2020, research and activities will take place virtually over the coming months and in studio in the autumn. Follow developments via #weareanminalsresearch and on this page.
The project will draw on a wide range of cultural and ecological narratives, which celebrate the human animal as part of human subjectivity. These sources will provide a framework for creative research, which aims to achieve some understanding of human symbiosis and empathy with other animals.
Working with creative and imaginative dance and performance strategies, Jacky Lansley and the research team will look at some of the ways in which contemporary human life separates us from our own animal subjectivity and the other animals we share the planet with. They will gather a wide range of images, references, and metaphors of human/animal dances and rituals from different cultures and eras to explore how the narrative of human/animal hybridity is deep within us.
Working with a variety of improvisatory, dance and performance techniques the team will explore ‘embodying’ other animals and observing our own instinctual reflexes and gestures, towards a re-remembering that we are bipedal animals.
‘We Are Animals’ is led by choreographer/director Jacky Lansley with artist/researchers: Fergus Early, Jreena Green, Esther Huss, Ingrid Mackinnon and Tim Taylor, and in dialogue with academic researchers Professor Ramsey Burt and Dr. ‘Funmi Adewole from De Montfort University.
ABOUT US (2017/19)
ABOUT US – a vibrant performance research programme characterised by interdisciplinary collaboration and powerful explorations of personal and political struggles around loss, joy, caring and oppression that affect us all.
This is utopian performance in which performers bathe both one another and their audience in well-being and gently instil a sense of hope for our collective futures. – Josephine Leask, DanceTabs
The multimedia performance was created by Jacky Lansley with artists from dance, visual art, experimental music and theatre backgrounds. Inspired by the everyday experiences of the human condition, it plays with multiple perspectives to draw the audience into an intimate world of which they are a part – it is a performance about us all.
They adapted the piece to its art gallery setting, working with the carpet in the space and other specific features that meant this iteration was wholly new and distinctive from previous realisations of ABOUT US. Their interactions with the projected video elements of the performance were seamless, enabling a much more expansive approach to dance to be experienced by the audience, who were a mixture of first-time attendees, a devoted dance crowd, and contemporary art fans. – Stephanie Straine, Curator of Exhibitions and Projects, Modern Art Oxford
A parallel programme of interdisciplinary CPD workshops and seminars expanded the unique ethos and methodologies of DRS out of London to a wider pool of researchers across the UK. Both emerging and more established artists were provided with new strategies to explore themes related to their own personal and social experiences.
The workshop created an atmosphere and framework within which it was possible to explore the limits of my imagination and physicality it allowed space and opportunity to do my work! – ABOUT US Workshop Participant 2019
Partners/venues: Modern Art Oxford (2019), Cultural Exchanges Festival, De Montfort University/Leicester (2018), Bluecoat, Liverpool (2018), Oxford House Theatre, London (2018).
The Team: Directed and choreographed by Jacky Lansley, with new music by Sylvia Hallett. Performers: Vincent Ebrahim, Esther Huss, Fergus Early, Ingrid MacKinnon, Ursula Early, Jreena Green, Tim Taylor. Cinematographer: Roswitha Chesher, Lighting Designers: Nao Nagai and James MacKenzie, Dramaturg: Ramsay Burt.
Supported by Arts Council England & PRS Foundation.
CROSSING PATHS (2016)
CROSSING PATHS R&D – an experimental, interdisciplinary programme including studio R&D, performed sharing of live and digital material emerging from the studio process with Q&A, and a series of three theme based CPD workshops – The Personal is Political / Outside and Inside / Women in Dance.
“The ability to speak freely about being a woman without fear of being judged… For me, it was an empowering day.” -Marie Ha
Programme participants from arts, academic and community ecologies, crossed paths to explore significant biographical experiences through experimental performance methodologies and discussion of the wide-ranging concerns impacting on the independent sector. All strands of Crossing Paths R&D were informed by the concept of ‘The Personal is Political’ and crossed borders of generation, ethnicity, gender and physical ability.
“All through the R&D I’ve been thinking about how what we’re doing related to the uncertain times we’re living through. Even before the Brexit vote, there’s been a sense that the complex interlocking systems we live in are perilously unstable, and that there are parallels between a need to find new alternative ways of doing things both in the studio and in the wider world” -Ramsay Burt, Performer/Researcher
Partners included the Siobhan Dance Studios where a final sharing of performance research with a Q&A took place in 2016.
“The space and close proximity with the performers was powerful and beautiful. This really excited me because it brings the audience and the performers together in a way where the performance becomes an active participation from all who are present” -Audience Response
The work was choreographed and directed by Jacky Lansley with Cinematographer Roswitha Chesher, Composer Sylvia Hallett, Dramaturg Ramsay Burt and Performer/Researchers: Vincent Ebrahim, Ursula Early, Lucy Tuck, Esther Huss, Ingrid MacKinnon, Maria Ghoumrassi and Fergus Early.
Supported by Arts Council England.
STEPPING STONES (2014/15)
STEPPING STONES – a creative and organisational development programme at DRS, to widen public engagement and create a more robust organisational infrastructure. It allowed DRS to expand its network, extend successful CPD programmes, benefit more dance artists and become a vital contributor to the independent dance sector.
Activities included: the launch of two new training programmes ‘The Interdisciplinary Performer’ (TIP 1&2) to develop participants’ practice and meet the challenges of a hybrid performance culture; an Artists’ Residency Programme (ARP) in partnership with Trinity Laban and Goldsmiths University; exchange with UK and international partners – Royal Holloway University, ACME Studios, Green Candle Dance and Independent Dance, P.A.R.T.S Bruxelles and School of New Dance Development, Amsterdam.
“Through my involvement in both TIP and The Speaking Dancer, I have had the privilege to participate in workshops full of rich interactions, intellectual reasonings and practice that has shaped and challenged the way I see my own work as an artist… It is so rich and so powerful to be guided and encouraged by artists who understand the politics of our time, who have lived their politics through their art and who are not afraid to remain integral to their practice.” – TIP 2015 and SDIPT 2016 Participant
“Overall, the programme offered a space for me to consider and re-consider my practice in relation to other interdisciplinary methods and some key professionals’ practices.” – TIP 2015 Participant
“The residency allowed us to experiment, to be able to throw ideas out during the process with the time to trust that new ones would come along…The mentoring was accessible for the members of the company with learning disabilities and incredibly useful for us all.” – Blink Dance Theatre, Artist Residency 2015
Tip Faculty: Programme Director: Jacky Lansley (Artistic Director, Dance Research Studio). Guest Tutors: Anne Bean (Performance Artist/Sculptor), Frank Bock (Curator, Independent Dance), Sally Dean (Performance/Somatic Practitioner), Fergus Early (Green Candle Dance Company), Jamila Johnson-Small/Alexandrina Hemsley (Project O), Esther Huss (Dandelion Collective), Lily Susan Todd (Theatre Director/Writer), Sylvia Hallett (Composer/Musician), Ursula Early (Big Bear Theatre Company).
Supported by Arts Council England, Trinity Laban, and Goldsmiths University.