The GOLDs visit Trinity Laban


Earlier this month, we celebrated International Older People’s Day on Thursday 1 October, here at the Faculty of Dance.

Our over sixties classes, Dance for Health and All Singing, All Dancing!, both part of the Retired not Tired programme were visited by 10 members of GOLDs Company, from Canberra, Australia, for a day of sharing work and dancing together.

As the newly appointed Graduate Intern in the Learning & Participation (Dance) Department, the GOLDs’ visit also signified my first solo shot at coordinating, managing and leading a project for TL.

GOLDs in performance

Photo: Mary Hinchey

Joined on the tour by Artistic Director Liz Lea, the GOLDs is a performance group for over 55s established in 2011 by Canberra Dance Theatre. Their visit to Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Dance was just one stop on their grand tour from 20 September to 10 October, spanning from Brighton to Edinburgh and even flying over to Vienna in between – a tour schedule that, as a performer myself, struck me with envy! Their black and gold company t-shirts were also the object of our TL groups’ desires.

GOLDs rehearse at studio 1, Laban Building

Photo: Mary Hinchey

After a short meet and greet between the groups, the GOLDs were whisked off on a tour of the Laban Building. Our visitors were given a glimpse of various undergraduate student classes and discovered the building’s architecture and accessibility, which gave them a real itch to get into the studio to move and explore – a vitality which remained constant throughout the day.
The GOLDs were joined by our Trinity Laban dancers for the first session of the day, led by All Singing, All Dancing!’s lead dance artists Natasha Lohan and Donna Ford. Once introduced to their voices, the dancers were invited into movement and vocal explorations through a voyage across a river, dissolving the three groups into a mass choir of movers and singers. The session ended with a screening of Lifestream, a short film created by All Singing, All Dancing! based on the themes explored within the morning’s class. A great first session to kick off the collaborations.


Photo: Mary Hinchey

The second session was led by Trinity Laban Alumnus Elisabetta d’Aloia. Improvisation-led tasks built up throughout the class, resulting in playful stop/start duets. Dance for Health participant Ian Russell recalled a group improvisation task:

“If one stops everyone does.
If one sets off everyone does,
Only one person at a time moves,
Only one person at a time is still.”

Trinity Laban Dance Artist Donna Ford gives her account of the session:

“Elisabetta welcomed us all and invited us to join her and bring the space alive, be together and explore together. We began with breathing, the whole body breathing, not just the lungs. The whole room breathing together and not just individuals.

We observed the way we could negotiate the space together following different rules, such as the whole group sensing when to come to stillness, having one person moving whilst another had to be still at any one time. We partnered up and played number conversation games, replacing words with claps and stamps and our own devised movements.

This movement dialogue then developed into duets which became set and then shared with each other. Marcia and Lucy’s duet was a particularly memorable moment as one played the other like a puppeteer, producing dramatic movements that were communicated across the space. Everyone remarked on how the session had felt like playing which in turn was very stress relieving.”

The third and final session, headed up by Dance for Health’s lead Dance Artist Lucy Evans, channelled the group’s creative curiosities into creating foil sculptures which in turn became a collage of silvery silhouettes against the wall – an artwork which formed the basis of spirited improvisation.

GOLDs rehearsing in studio 1, Laban Building

Photo: Lizzie Croucher

The day ended with a sharing of two contrasting works from the GOLDs; Air Kiss and Pop Art. Dance for Health participant Savitri Gaines sums up the performance and her experience of the day;

“Delightful to watch and hear … they also integrated some of us in the performance – I was blown a kiss and the person next to me was asked to join on the dance floor … it ended with all of us smiling, laughing. We were truly entertained.
(The GOLDs) were truly rich with two way conversation; one of whom was celebrating her 80th birthday. An inspiration to most of us—so pleased I was there.’”

For more information on how to get involved in Trinity Laban’s Over Sixties activities, visit the programme page, or email

Lizzie Croucher

Graduate Intern

Learning and Participation (Dance)

Rubythroat and Shapeshifter: Five Key Questions

On Thursday 15 October, two brand new ensembles – Rubythroat and Shapeshifter – are making their debuts at Blackheath Halls in a fascinating concert of Mozart, Monteverdi, Ravel, Berio and Rands. We asked the ensembles’ founders Jonathan Tilbrook and Linda Hirst all about it, starting off with the obvious question:

  1. So what on earth are Rubythroat and Shapeshifter??

LH: They’re both brand new ensembles. Rubythroat is a vocal ensemble of between 4 and 8 singers…

JT: … and Shapeshifter is a flexible instrumental ensemble of up to 40 players, able to embrace the unusual and fascinating combinations of instruments required for some significant repertoire of the second half of the twentieth century, as well as the more conventional ‘chamber orchestra’ works.

  1. How did the ensembles come about?

JT: There was a lot of 20th century chamber music/chamber orchestra repertoire that we wanted to explore – Stravinsky, Ravel, Berio, and much more – alongside more traditional works by Mozart, Schubert etc., but there wasn’t an appropriate ensemble for this. So we made one up!

Jonathan in action with the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra

Jonathan in action with the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra

LH: I wanted to create a vocal ensemble to perform both old and new music, and particularly to work on avant-garde music of the 1970s and 1980s, which is not only wonderful music to perform and listen to, but is also a great exercise for the brain.

  1. What are those names all about?

JT: The name Shapeshifter is fitting because the ensemble needs to be flexible not only in its size but also in its combination of instruments. This means that not only can it tackle unusual repertoire, but it can also combine in intriguing ways with other ensembles, potentially of any kind: perhaps in the future there could be collaborations with outfits from other genres such as jazz, and also touring projects? This open-minded and explorative approach is emblematic of Trinity Laban’s philosophy.

LH: The Siberian rubythroat is a variety of bird. I once had a piece written for me which transcribed its song for the human voice, and I’ve loved the name ever since! About ten years ago we did a one-off performance of Berio’s A Ronne at the Cheltenham Festival, with a pop-up group of Trinity Laban singers. I called that ensemble Rubythroat – I’ve always called my pop-up groups Rubythroat!

Siberian rubythroat

Meet Luscinia calliope, aka the Siberian rubythroat….

  1. What will students get out of it?

LH: This is a great chance for students to engage with repertoire that’s too rarely heard, but which is very theatrical and particularly rewarding to perform. I’ve been able to offer them my own experiences of working directly with both Bernard Rands and Berio: in fact, I’ve shown all the students a YouTube clip of me singing A Ronne with the Swingle Singers, directed by Berio himself, back in 1976.

JT: In terms of the students’ learning process, Shapeshifter will prepare them for a professional world where many excellent large chamber ensembles are choosing to focus more and more on this relatively uncommon repertoire. The technical demands are very high in the ensemble, thus providing great experience for some of Trinity Laban’s most talented players.

  1. Why are the two ensembles joining forces?

LH: We’ve been able create a programme that will not only offer audiences beautiful sounds, but will also enable them to make connections between pieces of music written centuries apart. For example, there’s a very direct line between Monteverdi and Berio; Berio adored Monteverdi and made arrangements of his music. They both belong to the same Italian vocal tradition, and I think audiences will really enjoy being able to hear that.

JT: … And the connections continue, by virtue of the fact that Bernard Rands studied with Berio! The two ensembles were founded to explore complementary repertoire, so combining them made perfect sense. It’s going to be a very exciting concert, and the beginning of what we hope will be an artistically very diverse and stimulating series of programmes appearing in future concert seasons.