Five Questions: Natalie Su Robinson

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Image: Maresa Smith

Choreographer Natalie Su Robinson completed Trinity Laban’s Graduate Diploma in Dance Studies. She tells us what she learned and how she’s using it…

– Tell us about your experience of study at Trinity Laban.

My year at Trinity Laban was one of unknown growth that I would not fully discover or understand until nearly a year later.

Inspired by amazing tutors, I had my eyes opened to new mediums. I learnt how to collaborate with artists from different disciplines and I made lasting relationships which have led to alumni becoming members of my dance company – namely Liz Kirk-­Channing and David Kam, among several others. Plus, my violinist Henry Webster is a Trinity Laban alumnus.

I had freedom to critically engage and explore my artistic curiosity, which led me to encounter my own movement voice. The guidance of Susan Sentler (former Senior Lecturer) during my year-long independent investigation was particularly helpful. And Tony Thatcher (Programme Leader, MA Choreography) opened my eyes to film, which has sparked an ongoing exploration throughout my work.

– What were the most valuable things you learned during your time here?

Thanks to Trinity Laban I have learned some key concepts which have formed the foundation of my professional practice:

Let Process Guide

I learned never to take the first gesture or idea for my final outcome; I must travel through a world of many other pathways, even allow myself to divert from the theme and see where I can go. My most favourite work created at Trinity Laban was a pure accident, a diversion.

Consider Everything

Thanks to Rosemary Brandt (Senior Lecturer in Choreological Studies), Choreological Studies was my favourite module. She provoked me to rethink how I saw dance and helped me articulate my feelings with new language. Each session was a challenge and an adventure, and I never knew if Iʼd make it to the next assigned task or if I even ‘understood’ what I entered into with my body and mind. Rosemary is a glorious inspiration to me, often answering my questions with another question. She made my choreographic process into an interesting immersive pleasure that I still enjoy today. I now focus on every little detail: ‘why, what, because, does this need to be here?’

The simplest of gestures have become deep monuments within my work. As I add a breath of life to each of them, I learn simplicity is a fantastic tool.

Natalie Su Company Broadway March 2016-3

– How has your dance career progressed since graduation?

Since graduating from Trinity Laban I have been able to develop the pieces I created in my independent investigation and choreography projects to show in theatres.

I danced for a number of companies, continued my own dance studies and at the start of this year I formed my own professional company: Natalie Su Company.

During this year I have been in residency at the Broadway Theatre in Barking, where I have created and curated two performance nights. I have choreographed for music videos, and created a dance workshop for Sex and Relationship education. I have helped the Barbican deliver their Open Lab programme and demonstrated my companyʼs unique collaborative process at TEDx in Manchester.

– Tell us about your most recent projects.

Courage is our most recent work. We began with an R&D phase and followed an exploratory process to create our final pieces. This was a collaboration between my company and illustrator Joanna Layla, producer and composer Robert Logan, violinist and Trinity Laban alumnus Henry Webster and video artist Graham Robinson.

The concept is of three entities sitting on a bench, not related but in their own space and mind contemplating: “When content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that cannot be bought.”

The outcome of the process was described by Theatre Director Mark Civil as follows:

“Natalie put together a team of dedicated artists including film makers, fine artists, dancers, experimental musicians and singer/songwriters who set about exploring the performance potential of our space. The final results were a haunting mix of all these disciplines that thrilled the audience.”

Natalie Su outward

– Professionally, what’s next for you?

Expanding upon Courage, we are bringing the theme to an unused theatre.

Additionally this August we are curating a theatre take-over experience at the Broadway, Barking. Beyond Boundaries will offer creative workshops to young people, giving them the opportunity to participate in a performance alongside professional dancers. This will incorporate immersive performances and installations, dance companies, illustrators, photographers, musicians and behind-the-scenes access to all areas – no boundaries.

I have no limits on my creativity; I am blessed to continuously meet interesting inquisitive creatives from multiple disciplines. I will continue to be open, to engage and experiment with other art forms, especially those that I have no experience or preconceptions of. I will grow and keep pursuing my dreams, leading my company of inspirational dance artists who engage with societal issues. We will always create work that speaks to the heart, work that provokes a reaction, that informs the audience of what happens outside the theatre… life, poverty, injustice, gentrification, trafficking: the true stories of the people without a voice.

You can watch a video featuring extracts from Courage on Natalie Su Company’s website.

Charlotte Constable

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

 

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