The latest BA3 Commissioned Works show at Trinity Laban features two dance and music collaborations: one between choreographer Lizzie Kew Ross and the student vocal ensemble Rubythroat, and one between two artists and members of the Trinity Laban community: choreographer and dance lecturer Zoi Dimitriou and composer and PhD student Hollie Harding.
One of the benefits of Trinity Laban’s unique community is that there are plenty of opportunities for musicians and dancers to come into contact. This particular collaboration between Zoi and Hollie had its origins in a social event for Trinity Laban researchers, when the two of them got chatting and realised they shared many of the same preoccupations. The connection deepened when Hollie came to see a work that Zoi had choreographed for first year undergraduates: the piece featured body percussion and revealed an intriguing relationship between sound and action. From there, they were both excited by the idea of collaborating on a new piece. The concept for the work follows from a larger body of research that Zoi is currently undertaking for her new choreographic project to be premiered in May 2017. Part of her research was used as the springboard for this new work and influenced main directions in the collaboration.
Image: Zoi Dimitriou (Promotional image for The Chapter House)
It was always clear that this would be a true and deep collaboration. Hollie wouldn’t simply hand over a score for Zoi to choreograph to, and Zoi wouldn’t create a choreography for Hollie to score, rather they would both be inspired by the same starting-point, and then hone the work together.
The title: Coordination and Navigation of Heterogeneous Humans Stabilised under a Visual Relative Localization, is a description of what the work sets out to do, and resonates with visual art perspectives. Inspired by artificial life simulations, the piece invokes a set of computer-generated rules – originally drawn from observing animals in nature – that govern how the dancers move and interact. The same computer-generated rules were the conceptual starting point for Hollie’s music. Both Zoi and Hollie were fascinated to see how the same idea could inspire different and surprising responses in them both.
Zoi says: “It’s fantastic when you get to see the same proposition, viewed from another discipline. I find that it reinforces, clarifies and deepens your understanding. That is what true collaboration is all about”.
Hollie, in turn, was inspired by spending time in the studio, observing Zoi and the dancers at work. As the project progressed, she developed her material through, “Self-directed intuitive changes based on observations, changes based on feedback from and conversations with Zoi and the dancers, and changes in timings to generate specific cues”. Having previously collaborated with choreographers on works using live musical performers, Hollie chose this time to make a purely electroacoustic score for the collaboration. This was the most fitting sound world and also meant that she could make immediate changes in the Studio, and so create something very closely entwined with the choreography. The two art forms are interlinked and interdependent in the piece: “the music depends on being heard with the movement of the dancers’’, says Hollie.
Image: Hollie Harding
According to both of them, the collaboration has been “bizarrely easy!” They put this down to various factors:
- They had a familiarity with each other’s works, interests and artistic preoccupations.
- There was an initial starting point outside of their disciplines that they responded to.
- Both agree that in the collaborative process they have each been “open-minded, generous and have asked for genuine feedback, which helps a free exchange of ideas and means that there’s no sense of holding back”.
- They stressed the importance of “play time before you engage in a collaboration”, having time to try out ideas freely.
- They each brought a strong artistic perspective that allowed the development of more rigorous and uncompromising processes.
The collaboration has filled both Zoi and Hollie with more ideas to take forward into their practice and research. Hollie finds inspiration in dance methodology and hopes to explore generative approaches and creative play, with classical musicians. Whatever Hollie and Zoi do next, it’s likely that they will continue their collaboration in the future.
BA3 Commissioned Works
20 & 21 October 2016