Historical Project: Recreating Hofesh Shecther’s Sun

Hofesh Shechter is recognised as one of the most exciting artists working today, renowned for composing atmospheric musical scores to compliment the unique physicality of his movement. He is Artistic Director of the UK based Hofesh Shechter Company, formed in 2008. The company are resident at Brighton Dome and Shechter is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells Theatre. His works for his company include Uprising, In your rooms, The Art of Not Looking Back, Survivor (in collaboration with Antony Gormley at the Barbican), Sun, Political Mother, and Barbarians.

Sun premiered in Melbourne in 2013 and Hofesh Shechter Company has toured the work internationally for over three years. The extract performed for the Historical Project is a stripped down version that takes its inspiration from various sections of the original work, in which the performers portray perhaps the last remnants of a lost and crumbling society.

Winifred Burnet Smith, Sam Coren and Philip Hulford are the Rehearsal Assistants staging the work, who said:

“We are so thrilled to be restaging and reinvigorating an extract of Sun with the Trinity Laban undergrads – dance legends one and all. All the students have worked so hard, and have been a joy to teach. We cannot thank them enough for their perseverance and positive attitude to learning Hofesh Shechter’s unique style.”

Second year student Sara Maurizi is one of the dancers performing in the work, she said:

“The process of learning Sun by Hofesh Shechter is challenging and inspiring me both as a human and as a dancer. The qualities of movement, the different intentions and the characters are intriguing in the piece and it has a percussive rhythm. I have to let my whole self be driven by the piece and dance without judgement and fear. I am very glad I had the chance to be part of this project.”

Emma Lane is another dancer in the work, she added:

“The experience is both physically and mentally challenging as I am being taught new ways to move my body and new ways to connect with emotions authentically. Finding a way to move my body in totality and having to constantly shift the dynamics of my movement has allowed me to reach new extremities that I will take with me for the rest of my training and career.”

For more information and to book tickets visit our Events page.

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Image: Sun by Gabriele Zucca

Historical Project: Merce Cunningham’s MinEvents

Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. With an artistic career distinguished by constant experimentation and collaboration with groundbreaking artists, Cunningham expanded the frontiers of dance and contemporary visual and performing arts.

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Photo: Merce Cunningham in Changeling (1957) by Richard Rutledge

MinEvents 2017

A MinEvent is an uninterrupted sequence of excerpts drawn from the work of Merce Cunningham.  Each MinEvent is unique, and is designed to suit the particular space in which it is presented. Trinity Laban MinEvents are arranged and staged by Daniel Squire expressly for the dancers of Trinity Laban. Daniel said:

“This is the third year in a row for which I have created and staged four MinEvents using Merce Cunningham’s choreography for Trinity Laban. Each year, several sections have been pulled from various works ranging from the 1958 to 2002. This year we will include one section which appeared in Trinity Laban MinEvents 1, 2, 3 & 4 in 2015: this is from un jour ou deux, which was originally performed by the Paris Opera Ballet. The sections will be shuffled differently for each of the four performances, making each one unique. Some sections will be double – or triple – cast within each work, though all fourteen dancers will appear in each MinEvent.

Music is being composed and will be performed by Trinity Laban students; the décor is by Sarah Batey, a student from UCL, Slade School of Fine Art. I am very much looking forward to seeing Merce’s work and in this case a collaboration with the musician-composers, the artist, lighting designer, and costume designer to create four works never before seen but rather recontextualising extant choreography by Merce Cunningham.”

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Photo: Daniel Squire by Ed Chappell. Interscape (2000) by Merce Cunningham: décor & costumes by Robert Rauschenberg

Second year student Jon Hope is one of the dancers performing in the MinEvents, he said:

“Working with Daniel means that every day is an adventure in itself. He teaches us material at a fast pace and has high expectations of our technical ability. This has made me aware that we must always strive to improve and never settle with what is safe or comfortable. In the choreography we use chance procedure which challenges our minds as we cannot rely on memorising the movement; each time it’s different. We have to learn all the possible outcomes and be ready to do any one of them when the opportunity arises. This way of creating ever-changing dance really intrigues me.

It’s great to have such an intensive time with one technique, one teacher and one piece. It allows for full focus, quick improvement and it’s refreshing to work with a different group of people than I usually do.

To get a full experience of MinEvents I urge the audience to keep a keen eye on the details, to look for the relationships between the dancers and movement, and to enjoy the co-existence of the dance, the sound and the set. Expect to see a new combination of extracts from Events created by Cunningham in a different setting and in a different time.”

Next week we delve into the process of recreating an extract from Hofesh Shechter’s Sun.

For more information and to book tickets visit our Events page.

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

Trinity Laban’s Celebrated Historical Project 2017

Our second year undergraduate students will perform works by choreographers who have made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary dance in the 20th and 21st centuries.

During Historical Project, students are immersed in an intensive period of study. As well as restaging the dance pieces, students learn about the artistic, historical and cultural contexts in which they were originally created and performed. The result is an experience which integrates theory and practice, and which exposes students both physically and intellectually to important dance works of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Image: Highland Fling, Matthew Bourne, Historical Project 2016

Final year student Orion Hart (pictured above) performed in the restaging of Matthew Bourne’s The Highland Fling in last year’s programme. He commented:

“The Historical Project was one of the highlights from my whole time at Trinity Laban. It challenged me to discover new aspects of myself as a performer, and allowed me to go beyond what I thought I could achieve. If I could go back and do it all again I would!”

This year, students will be staging seminal works by:

Merce Cunningham: MinEvents 9, 10, 11 & 12 arranged and staged by Daniel Squire

Martha Graham: Panorama (1935) restaged and directed by Jacqueline Bulnes

Dore Hoyer: Affectos Humanos (1962) reconstructed and staged by Martin Nachbar

Hofesh Shechter: Sun – An Extract (2013) arranged and staged by Winifred Burnet-Smith, Sam Coren & Phil Hulford

Rudolf Laban: Drumstick re-imagined, staged and arranged by Alison Curtis-Jones

Martin Nachbar commented:

“It is always a joy and challenge to teach students to approach these dances and reconstruct them with the idea of meeting them rather than working on looking exactly like the original.”

Alumna Zoe Bishop performed in an extract of Sasha WaltzContinu titled Women, as part of Historical Project 2014. Zoe said:

“I found the process of learning the repertoire to be most inspiring as company dancer Mata Saka really took us on a creative journey over the 3 weeks. It allowed us to gain rich insight into the feel of the work.

I feel that Historical Project provides the first real opportunity to perform at a professional level within the undergraduate course. This opportunity is invaluable as it exposes the students to different styles of dance within the Contemporary Dance bracket, whilst working with professionals in the industry. It also provides the chance to work and dance with fellow students we may not have previously danced with and ultimately allows the students to perform repertoire of a professional level.”

Check back next week to follow the process of this year’s works.

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Image: Women, Sasha Waltz, Historical Project 2014

For more information and to book tickets visit our Events page.

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

 

Rosie Kay on conspiracy theory and the Illuminati

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Image: MK ULTRA by Brian Slater

Rosie Kay’s latest work MK Ultra comes to the Laban theatre on 20 April 2017.

Explaining my new work, MK Ultra to people has become a lot easier in recent weeks. Even six months ago, mentioning my work looking at conspiracy theory would have drawn a snort from many over the age of 25. But it is different now- ‘Fake News’ and ‘Alternative Facts’ have become the news and the fragile balance of trust between truth, the news, our leaders and the media has been fractured. The lid has been lifted, and widespread belief and knowledge of conspiracy theory is now being looked at seriously- something I’ve been advocating for several years as I researched and watched the gulf between the mainstream, the alternative and how young people were navigating their way in this confused world of distrust. Most of us have been in a state of stasis, but young people have known and felt the disintegration of belief in our leaders and the stories they tell us.

Researching conspiracy theory since 2012, I came across the theory of the ‘Illuminati’, for those who don’t know, a supposed shadowy elite who control the media through messages in pop music, entertainment and intent on somehow ruling the world, spreading a ‘New World Order’ agenda of state control. Through my research I encountered a lot of conspiracy theory, I looked at false flag attacks, false news, alternative theories on almost every single mainstream news item, as well as theories on shadowy elites, occult sects, secret societies, modern witchcraft, assassinations and celebrity deaths.

The conspiracy theory is that the people who created and developed the brainwashing technique of MK Ultra teamed up with CIA and Disney to create automaton pop stars. MK Ultra was a CIA brainwashing programme that was carried out across Western Universities in an attempt to use experimental psychology to programme potential spies, soldiers and assassins. While it is historically agreed that MK Ultra did in fact take place, and many people were unwilling volunteers, there is no evidence that MK Ultra has continued past the early 1970’s. The theory is that it did continue, with the MK Ultra doctors and the CIA directors teaming up with Walt Disney to attempt to brainwash singing and acting children, and turn them into programmed stars who would perform as puppets spreading messages to alter public consciousness.

Potential stars were brainwashed through MK Ultra torture techniques and programmed to be perfect performing pop stars. This was carried out through the Disney club and took several attempts before they struck gold with their first mainstream star, Britney Spears.

But one of the downsides of the MK Ultra brainwashing, is that the programming starts to falter as the victim ages, with the individuals own personality fighting back and trying to break through their brainwashing. The stars would have some kind of episode, often with the media reporting planted stories of drink or drug addictions, before the star is put into some kind of ‘psychiatric unit’ where, the public would be told they were having rehabilitation, but in actual fact they would be being re-programmed. The stars, now re-progammed by their ‘handlers’ then return to their grueling touring and performance schedules, often looking a little bit dazed, but mostly compliant until the next ‘episode’.

This is supposed to have happened very famously to Britney, but also to Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan, and most recently to Kayne West.

So far, so bizarre.

While conspiracy theory can be seen as a joke- the preserve of the tin hat brigade, still obsessing about 9/11 and career suicide for academics, as I was told, I felt that this was a real phenomenon and one ripe for artistic exploration.

Hidden within pop music videos is a tick-list of illuminati symbols- symbols that tell the viewer if this artist is a puppet of the illuminati or not. These symbols include butterfly’s (linked to monarch programming, a term for a certain type of brainwashing), triangles (THE sign of the illuminati and a symbol of the power of the elite over the masses) one eye and eye of Horus (links to Egyptology and the all seeing eye), birdcages (trapped), asylums (the brainwashing torture chambers), broken glass (symbolizing the shattered psyche), checkered floors (linked to freemasonry) and occult and satanic signs. If you don’t believe me, try watching Keisha’s Die Young video with this all in mind, and you’ll soon see it.

But what this incredible world reveals is far more than just a crazy conspiracy theory that generally young people are aware of, and older people are not. This world holds up a mirror to where we are now. Do we all think we are stars now? Are we the stars in our own reality TV show, and each aspect of our lives defines our individuality? Each product we buy or activity we do shows how separate and special we are, but in fact we are not free, perhaps we have been sold a dream and we are living in a brainwashed state. We are living in our own bubble, we see our version of the truth, and live our lives surrounded by information that helps reinforce the bubble of reality we inhabit. And like our pop stars, our programming is starting to dysfunction, we are starting to see through our dream, and waking up from the sleepwalk that has taken us into the harsh reality of where we are now. As one young person put it succinctly; “we used to believe, we used to be told what was real by our leaders, but since recent events, we’ve been let down. Now we fend for ourselves’.

In this new world reality, it’s not just the New World Order we need to be afraid of, it’s our lack of leadership and the forces that fill this vacuum as we stumble along, half awake, half asleep. Or maybe we are just about to wake up, and realise that there is a new reality, just around the corner, or is it ‘over the rainbow’?

Read the full interview with Rosie Kay on the Dance Tabs website.

To book tickets and for more information visit our Events page.

Taylor Benjamin | Company Chameleon

Taylor Benjamin was a member of Transitions Dance Company, graduating in 2008. Since then he has toured works with 2Faced Dance Company, Kompany Malakhi, Balletboyz and DV8 Physical Theatre. Taylor now dances for Company Chameleon, with whom he will be performing in double bill Witness at the Laban Theatre on 16 and 17 March 2017.

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Image: Company Chameleon

Company Chameleon were nominated for Best Independent Company at the National Dance Awards last year, how does it feel to be part of such a respected company?

I feel very proud to be part of Company Chameleon. I have been dancing with them now for nearly two years and, although they are getting bigger both nationally and internationally, there is such a humble, family type energy with everyone in the company – from the office staff to the dancers and artistic directors. I have been lucky enough to be involved with two works that, though obviously both have the Company Chameleon style, are so different to each other. Doing diverse work but being able to stay with the same company is a luxury you don’t always get.

Kevin Edward Turner, co-Artistic Director of Company Chameleon, has drawn from his own personal experience of Bipolar for the creation of Witness. How does it feel to be performing a work surrounding such real issues?

Working on Witness, a piece bringing awareness to mental health, has been both challenging and eye opening. Kevin’s story is personal so as a performer you want to be as loyal to his experience as you can while also connecting to it in your own way, so you can deliver something true. Although myself and a lot of the audience may not have experience with these issues, we have all at some point experienced the emotions and battles with ourselves that are shown in the piece. This helps you to empathise with the situation and hopefully makes the performance easier to connect to. It is so hard to talk about mental health, and what we don’t always realise is that we all have a mental health. I think anything that opens up conversations on this topic is a good thing and art is a great way to do it. I admire Kevin for tackling these issues.

What can audiences look forward to when coming to see the double bill?

Audiences can look forward to seeing two pieces that are totally different to each other and to go on a journey that will make you think, laugh, cry and hopefully more than anything – get you talking.

What were the most valuable things you learnt from your time as a member of Transitions Dance Company?

For me Transitions was pretty vital. I trained at a dance/musical theatre school prior to Trinity Laban so my actual knowledge of contemporary dance and the different techniques was limited. Transitions gave me the opportunity to learn new styles, perform nationally and internationally while still training, and improve my general dance and teaching skills.

How does it feel to be performing back at your alma mater?

I’m really excited to be back on the Laban stage. It’s great to perform in such a dedicated, respected dance house of England. And I like the pretty colours of the building inside and out!

Words Unspoken Trailer

For more information and to book tickets visit the Trinity Laban website.

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR