The Free Artist?
Research and Consultation Project
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.
Header Image: Jacky Lansley, Esther Huss and Jreena Green researching at Dance Research Studio.
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, Winner of the NAE Open Main Prize 2019, Ezugha is a Nigerian-born artist living and working in Hampshire. Her work looks at the transition of Black women and their identity within culture from colonised subjects to emancipated figures. Vivian works predominantly in performance, using the medium to decontextualise and reconstruct what it means to be alive in this present time and protest for a world where dreams are equal. she is the founder of ‘Live Art in Wymondham’, a one-day site-specific event that aimed to bring emerging artists working in live art to rural Norfolk. Ezugha’s work has been presented in venues across Europe, America and the UK; to include In Between Time Festival as part of the New Bloods Commission, SPILL festival and Rapid Pulse International Performance Art festival.
Emilia Robinson is a dance artist and academic, working in interdisciplinary modes and often concerned with the blur between the performative and the mundane. Emilia’s most recent collaborative film project was co-created with filmmaker and choreographer Sidonie Carey-Green for Tate Modern’s Tate Exchange. Set in a vast woodland area, the film explores the slowly decaying relationship we have to animals and nature. Previous works have included both live and digital performance in the UK and Europe, spanning across dance, theatre, film and improvisation. Emilia has a background in teaching in the community, directing youth dance companies and teaching at Universities. Emilia is currently a Teaching Fellow and (acting) Dance Programme Lead at Royal Holloway, University of London where she is also a PhD student as part of the TECHNE funded cohort. Emilia’s research interests interweave movement improvisation, motherhood and self practice. Emilia is also training with Prof. Vida Midgelow and Prof. Jane Bacon in their practice ‘Creative Articulations Process’ to become a facilitator of this work, which shifts between moving and writing to bring forward embodied knowing, find modes of language and further hones a creative voice
Esther Huss graduated from London Studio Centre in 2003 with a BA (Hons) Degree in Theatre Dance. Since then she has worked as a freelance dancer, teacher and choreographer in both the professional and community dance sector. Esther’s professional appearances include several productions at the Royal Opera House London, and works with Kate Flatt, Aletta Collins, Jacky Lansley, Michael Keagan-Dolan, Bernadette Iglich amongst others. Esther is Co-Founder of the inclusive dance company Dandelion Collective. As artistic director she has presented three full scale productions at the New Diorama Theatre London, and independently presented work at Tate Britain and the Southbank Centre.
Esther is an Associate Artist of the ‘Dance Research Studio – DRS’ founded by Jacky Lansley. In 2019, Esther moved to Northumberland, North East UK, where she made her first appearance by leading a European project ‘Bridges – Dance for Europe’ involving over 100 Europeans across 10 countries. Her current interest lies in bringing together dance and the Visual Arts, and making these accessible to rural communities across Northumberland.
Ingrid Mackinnon is a London based movement director, choreographer, teacher and dancer. Movement direction credits include #WeAreArrested (Arcola Theatre), First Encounters: The Merchant of Venice (RSC), Typical (Nouveau Riche/Soho Theatre), Liar Heretic Thief (Lyric), Cacophony (Almeida), Mischief Festival: #WeAreArrested (RSC), #DR@CULA! (RCSSD), Mischief Festival: Kingdom Come (RSC), Fantastic Mr. Fox (associate movement Nuffield Southampton and National/International tour). Choreography and rehearsal direction credits include The Headwrap Diaries (assistant choreographer and rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance, Our Mighty Groove (rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance, Three Penny Opera (choreographer) for Wac Arts, Boy Breaking Glass (rehearsal director) for Vocab Dance/Alesandra Seutin , Hansel and Gretel (assistant choreographer and rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance, Imoinda (choreographer), In The Heights (choreographer) for Wac Arts. She has taught for FE and HE institutions such as WAC Arts, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London Studio Centre, Mountview, ALRA and University of Kent. Ingrid holds an MA in Movement: Directing & Teaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is co-founder of MoveSpace.
Jreena Green is a professional dancer, choreographer, dance teacher and ‘practical dance historian’. She studied at The London Contemporary Dance School and did a degree in Dance Studies at Middlesex University. She featured in the Len Goodman documentary series ‘Cheek To Cheek’ where she demonstrated historical African American dance forms. Recent choreographic credits include major commercials for Guinness Youtube, Google, Levis and Marks and Spencers. Xmas ad. Credits as a dancer/performer include leads in ‘Falling’ for Green Candle Dance Company, ‘Mrs Wobble’ for Theatre Peckham and her own show ‘The Josephine Baker Show’ which toured the South of England. She was a assistant dance captain/choreographic assistant on the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and has a background performing in West End musicals (original cast of the Tony award winning show ‘The Lion King’), choreographing music videos and feature films and doing international tours with established musical acts. She also works with the elderly, people with dementia and learning disability and ‘hard to reach’ young people through Green Candle Dance Company in East London. Jreena Green is the founder and artistic director of Jazz Dance Elite a dance company that links the historical line of African diaspora dance forms from authentic jazz, Uk jazz, tap to Charleston and Lindy hop to hip hop.
Lucy Tuck trained as a “Triple Threat” and graduated 25 years ago. As an all-rounder her career has been varied but majored in acting. Early productions were “Guys & Dolls”, “Blues In The Night” and “Wizard Of Oz” before moving to London for a contract in the West End on “Hurly Burly”, covering all 3 female roles. Her eclectic CV expanded to a Leonard Bernstein Opera as “Jazz Singer” at Southwark Playhouse and onto the RSC for The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe at Stratford and Sadler’s Wells. In 2002 Lucy met Jacky Lansley and an ongoing working relationship was established doing 3 works and thereafter through the SDIPT programme. A change of direction around this time as she joined Foursight Theatre for a programme of work and her first foray into the devised sector. Memorable socialist piece “Thatcher! The Musical” saw her in the role of “Twin-Set Maggie”.
Relocation to Bristol and a strong relationship with Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Bristol Old Vic is established with 5 Christmas shows and 3 shows respectively to date including a world tour. Lucy was mid contract on production “Oi Frog” – nominated for an Olivier award, before the pandemic struck.
Rachael Davies is a curator and researcher living and working in London. She is currently Public Programme Curator and Gallery Manager at Cell Project Space, London. Rachael curated ‘X6 Dance Space (1976-80): Liberation Notes’ (2020) at Cell Project Space, the first exhibition to document the work of the X6 Collective. Other curatorial projects include events with Sanna Helena Berger & Shade Théret, Shadow Sisters, Harriet Middleton Baker, Josephine Callaghan and Sean Roy Parker. In Autumn 2020, Rachael will be starting a PhD with Chisenhale Dance Space and Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University, in collaboration with the V&A, to further explore Chisenhale’s archive and the history of the British New Dance (1976-1988).
Seke Chimutengwende works in dance as a performer, choreographer and teacher. He has performed for companies such as DV8 Physical Theatre and Lost Dog and has performed and taught improvisation internationally since 2006. He has choreographed four group works for his company Seke Chimutengwende & Friends including The Time Travel Piece for The Place Prize 2012 and King Arthur, which premiered at The Yard Theatre in London, 2015.
Since 2016 Seke has collaborated with Alexandrina Hemsley on duet Black Holes which premiered at The Place in June, 2018. His new solo Plastic Soul premiered at The Yard Theatre in January 2019. Seke has also worked as a movement director for theatre productions at The Yard, Battersea Arts Centre and The Gate Theatre.
Susan Kempster is a choreographer, performer, teacher, theatre maker and movement coach/director. Her career has taken her from Sydney, Australia to Tokyo, New York, Madrid, Barcelona, and now to London where she has been living for the past 6 years. In Spain her choreographies were awarded with two first prizes in the international choreographic competitions of Madrid (2002) and Burgos (2006) and her work has been presented in those countries she’s lived in as well as Italy, Chile and the Czech Republic. Her teaching work includes vocational training and professional dance company classes, along with workshops in improvisation, composition and choreography. In London she has been teaching in HE as well as working as a performer, most recently with Upswing Aerial Company in the intergenerational outdoor touring show Catch Me.
She is Associate Research Fellow, School of Arts Birkbeck College, University of London and has been developing her solo work Eye, most recently through a project called “Close-up dances for the small screen” – an offshoot using Zoom as a creative medium during Covid-19. https://youtu.be/kw83W5Ab0w4
Susan has written about her experience of The Free Artist? for Freelancers Make Theatre Works. Click here to read.
Tim Taylor is a performer, theatre maker and teacher – has broad experience as an interdisciplinary artist. He has worked across many different genres of performance, and for such practitioners as Lucy Bailey, Martha Clarke, Luke Dixon, Matthew Hawkins, Bill T Jones, Michael Keegan-Dolan, David McVicar, Ian Spink, Jane Turner, Jacky Lansley, Ultz, Sian Williams and the Kosh. In 2017, he worked with artists Beech and Thomasson as a performer on their work Together at Tate Britain. In early 2018/19, Tim participated in the touring performance piece About Us, choreographed and directed by Jacky Lansley. In 2019, he worked with long-time colleague Jane Turner to develop Taylor and Turner Taking Turns, a contemporary cabaret piece combining performance with participatory workshop engagement. Since Covid-19 lock-down, Tim has also contributed as a performer to Jane Turner’s film in development Shape Shift.
Tim has been the Programme Manager for Dance at Morley since 2012. Our curriculum offers an eclectic programme of theatre, world, social and fitness-oriented dance study for the College’s part-time, adult education community. Tim is excited to be participating with fellow artists in Jacky Lansley’s online research and consultation project for summer 2020, The Free Artist?
Ursula Early is a theatre producer, theatre-maker, facilitator and actress. She is a founder and Director of Waltham Forest based Theatre Companies Blackhorse Arts and East London Shakespeare Festival. She is also Producer and Programmer for Walthamstow’s performance venue The CentrE17. Previously, she founded Big Bear Theatre Company and was a Production Coordinator for Commercial West-End and international touring Production Company: Glynis Henderson Productions (Producers of STOMP and others). Ursula has an extensive TV and theatre acting CV and trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Ursula is an experienced workshop leader and facilitator and has designed and delivered an extensive range of acting and drama workshops for theatre companies and Drama Schools. She taught as an adult acting teacher for City Academy, She has Level 3 OCNLR Accredited Diploma in Leading Dance for Older People (course provided by Green Candle Dance Company. She is also currently on the professional development faculty of Dance Research Studio and teaches on their Professional Development Programme.
Zosia Jo is a dance artist, writer and maker. Her work is rooted in a desire for connectivity and communication through movement, improvisation and performance. Zosia’s choreographic practice focuses on feminist themes, use of voice and spoken word, connecting to communities and challenging traditional theatrical hierarchies. She has made and shown work across the UK and internationally. Originally trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Zosia also holds certificates in Psychotherapy from Spectrum Therapy, and in 2018 completed MA Creative Practice, Dance Professional Practice at Independent Dance/Trinity Laban. In 2009 Zosia undertook the Speaking Dancer Interdisciplinary Performance training at Dance Research Studio. After three years working between Cairo, Egypt and West Wales, Zosia now lives in Cardiff and- alongside choreographic and performance projects- lectures at University of Wales Trinity Saint David and co-manages Groundwork Pro with Deborah Light and Lara Ward. Zosia’s Pembrokeshire based company, Joon Dance, was founded in 2008 with Torch Theatre and combines participatory community dance with professional performance practice, aiming to bring high quality dance experiences to people in rural communities.