Animate Artists Online “For All The Neighsayers”

By Sarah Freestone, Creative Director

As Trinity Laban’s Animate Orchestra enters its second decade of existence, the scope of Animate projects and  the development of the young musicians and the music they create has continued to astound me. High expectations are smashed at every turn and I have been wondering where do we go from here? Highly acclaimed collaborative projects with theatre, dance and film, a live performance at the BBC Proms on Radio 3 and BBC TV… what next?

Who knew that our next course would be plotted by the onset of a global pandemic…

With the migration of our 2020 Animate Artists project to an online format, we devised our latest composition For All The Neighsayers during four days of online workshops. As ever, we worked together as a whole group (25 for this project, age 10-17) and in smaller breakout groups working with tutors to create new music. Our stimulus for these sessions began with the life and music of Joseph de Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint Georges; an extraordinary violinist, composer, swordsman, army general and abolitionist of 18th Century Paris. We listened to his music, looked at Classical composition techniques, how to push the boundaries of our instruments as he did, and discussed our personal responses to his music.

These responses were then the starting point to create our first musical elements. ‘Rabbits’, ‘Chaotic Journey’, ‘Brave’, ‘Snowboarding’ and ‘Chaotic Ducks’ were among my many favourite words that the Animate musicians used in response to Boulogne’s music… We also used the numbers of his lifetime (1745-1799) as intervals, time signatures and note lengths as well as images of the eight parry positions of fencing to create melodic shapes (Boulogne was a champion fencer – John Adams the second President of the United States called him ‘the most accomplished man in Europe’).

As always happens, the amazing creativity of the young people of Animate took us in directions that could not have been anticipated… discussions on the historical development of swing and funk took us from Duke Ellington to Snarky Puppy, and a conversation about remote music making drew us to Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet where the four players perform together from four separate helicopters, choreographed in the sky. These discussions (and many more) influenced our piece.

25 Helicopters not being part of the Trinity Laban budget, after some experimentation we worked out that up to seven instruments could be heard on Zoom playing together – not playing in time, as that is not possible online in different geographical locations and we were spread from the West Country to Scotland – and this is heard at the beginning of the piece. The other sections were recorded as ‘stems’ by the young musicians at home using their phones/tablets and I edited them together and produced the track.

For All The Neighsayers reflects the resilience of creativity in adversity. The remarkable achievements of Joseph de Boulogne in the concert hall, at the French Royal Court and on the battlefield are even more extraordinary as the illegitimate son of a Guadeloupe plantation owner and an African slave. It was announced this month that his life and music is being celebrated in a new biographical film Chevalier de Saint-Georges, written by Stefani Robinson and directed by Stephen Williams for Searchlight Pictures.

For All The Neighsayers would make a great soundtrack…

Three perspectives on CoLab 2020: High Fantasy

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This is a reflective blog written by participants of the ‘High Fantasy’ Colab Project 2020.

High Fantasy In process – Dance Lead

High Fantasy is a performance that brings together music and dance in the attempt of sharing a story with multiple scenarios. The project is based on the homonymous original composition by Ryszard and has been developed throughout experimental creative approaches.

During the one week process we investigated our emotional and imaginary responses to the composition, in order to find a strong connection between the music and the dance. The first tasks we looked at were more focused on the embodiment of the music in abstract ways, and on the discovery of the different layers we can perceive in the composition. The second tasks we explored, instead were based on the idea of narrative and how narratives can be read through movement, both in the music and in the dance. For instance, we all tried to write stories inspired by the music, and then, stimulated by our readings, we constructed the narrative of a journey through different realities, which influenced the whole choreographic construction.

The beauty of this collaboration lays in the active participation of all the group members, who made this performance unique with their creativity and openness to share, discuss, transform. Through this experience, in facts, I’ve learnt that sharing ideas and allowing them to enter a dialogue with other opinions is an extremely interesting and important process for a choreographer. I discovered that the real creative process starts from the dialogue with the dancers and the musicians, not in isolation or idealization in the mind. I found out that ‘to share’ and consequently ‘to collaborate’ are both actions based on trust; and that we can connect to the people we work with only if we trust them, if we trust the process and if we are open to change, reshape, transform our ideas.

I consider this experience one of the most important for my professional and creative growth, since it challenged and nurtured me, not only as an artist, but also as a person. For this I need to thank all the people involved in this project, which supported and changed me, thanks to Ryszard, Francesca, Vida, Michaela, Eleanor and our mentors Kathy Crick and Douglas Finch (also Megumi Masaki).

By Chiara

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Piano Princess

My experience of ‘High Fantasy’ was incredible. I enjoyed the whole experience, not only during our week with the dancers but also during the months of preparation that went into learning the secondo part with Ryszard. When he asked me to collaborate with him, I knew the music he composed would be exciting and challenging, and sometimes there were moments when I wasn’t sure if we would be able to learn it in time, but that was always part of the thrill! I think what was most unexpected was how quickly Ryszard and I were able to collaborate with the wonderful dancers who were also in the project. They understood and worked together so well making the whole experience really exciting, not to mention their ideas on the choreography and staging which were brilliant.

The outcome was really amazing, and I think our hard work did shine through to the audience. Although there were some mishaps with the staging beforehand and some slip ups with our page turner, the whole performance really came together, and I really felt a connection to the dancers as well as Ryszard throughout. There was a real sense of collaboration and workmanship between the two arts which came together to form one.

Overall, this project really opened my eyes to the possibilities that CoLab can bring to us musicians and to the possibility of working with dancers in the future. I really admire the work that went into the week and I think ‘High fantasy’ is a truly fantastic project.

By Francesca

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Strategy on getting an excellent experience out of CoLab – Composer

If you want, you can just wait to see what project you get assigned to.

Otherwise, CoLab is an experience that you can tailor for yourself either by choosing from the available projects or proposing one yourself. In the latter case – as with High Fantasy – you will likely be able to find someone enthusiastic about collaborating with you in leading a project about whatever you want.

In my first CoLab I forgot to make any project selections but I was very happy with what I got, and it revealed the idea of telling narratives with piano and movement. So, if in your first CoLab you do not make a proposal, you can just focus on absorbing it all and gaining valuable experience and wisdom.

High Fantasy was not led by just telling people what to do. Rather, the idea resulted in an environment that required everyone’s creative input. Of course, if you do enjoy ordering people around, you can try to make a project that affords you such a role. But the point is that you have the option of entering a leadership position if that’s your strength and preference – for me it’s fun to conceive the concept.

What you need to do is thoroughly think of what you want, with convincing rationale; if the idea is possible, I think they’ll probably let you do it. And then all you have to do with your written proposal is convince people to join.

I made the undertaking easier by approaching a visionary choreographer and stellar pianist before proposals even began.

By Ryszard


Find out more about CoLab at Trinity Laban:

https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/creative-innovation/colab

Are you interested in studying at Trinity Laban?

https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/study

What I learned while researching Dance for Health at Trinity Laban

By MFA Dance Science Graduate Ellis Martin-Wylie

Dance for Health (DfH) is a term used to describe dance classes that aim to promote health and well-being. DfH classes are often targeted to specific groups of people, such as adults over the age of 65. With a background in contemporary dance and exercise science, I have long had an interest in the inherent ability of dancing to treat health conditions or to support health maintenance. In September 2018, I began my MFA Dance Science thesis project at Trinity Laban. In this blog post I will share what I learned and how I learned it!

DfH research can take many different forms, all depending on the past work of researchers and their present curiosities. While preparing my thesis project, I noticed the majority of academic research is focused on the objective effects of dancing. For example, it’s been widely proven that dancing improves physical strength, flexibility, and balance ability (Keogh et al., 2009); reduces psychological measurements of anxiety and depression (Crumbie, Olmos, Watts, Avery, & Nelson, 2015; Gouvêa et al., 2017); and increases the number of people in an individual’s social network (McFadden & Basting, 2010). But, only a small body of research has attempted to understand the dancer’s experience of these improved health outcomes. For instance, I wondered how these objective improvements actually manifested in a dancer’s life. How are daily tasks and activities changed when a dancer has better balance, feels less anxious, and has more interpersonal connections?  How does a dancer value the creative engagement and social inclusion offered by dance? With my project, I aimed to deepen our understanding of the ways in which regular engagement in creative dancing impacts the subjective well-being of older adults.

My challenge was to avoid selecting research variables and measurement tools that would severely limit the type of data I collected and strongly predict the outcomes. Instead, I elected to shine a spotlight on the experiences of each research participant so that their perspectives could guide the project to a conclusion. After encouragement from my thesis supervisors to read about “alternative” methods of data collection, I stumbled upon a community-based, participatory methodology called Photovoice, used most often in anthropology, sociology, and health policy research (Wang & Burris, 1997). That one discovery led me to several other approaches and techniques, such as arts-informed research (Cole & Knowles, 2008) and photo-elicitation interviewing (Harper, 2002).

I pieced together methods described by sociologists and ethnographers to create a project design that served my goals – photo-elicitation interviews within an arts-informed methodology. Arts-informed research is based in the belief that first-hand experience is necessary in order to gain knowledge because reality is constructed by perceptions (Cole & Knowles, 2008). In this methodology, a creative process is used to inform data collection. Then, outputs of the creative process are used to communicate the results to audiences. In photo-elicitation interviewing a photograph is inserted into an interview and is discussed. Using both audio and visual cues in an interview encourages novel insights because the brain processes visual information in an area separate from audio information (Harper, 2002). Additionally, dancers have a kinaesthetic, tacit knowledge that is acquired by doing and cannot be communicated or represented verbally (Pain, 2012). For example, a choreographer has skills that can’t be taught through a lecture or a textbook chapter. I attempted to facilitate communication of that tacit knowledge by using a visual aid in my interviews. Photo-elicitation interviewing becomes arts-informed when the participant creates the images that are used during the interview. This engages the participants as co-researchers and brings up issues that are important and meaningful to them.

For this study, I asked ten female dancers, aged 66-77, who take the same weekly, creative dance class, each to take up to 16 pictures on disposable cameras that represent how dancing impacts their subjective physical, psychological, and social well-being. Each dancer and I discussed their own photographs in one-to-one interviews. Then, I analysed the interview transcripts for common themes across dancers’ experiences. Below are examples of how participants experience two common themes: creativity and group flow. Notice the rich metaphors described both visually and verbally.

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Creativity

“This is the sun through the trees, and the sun is seemingly ageless, and that’s how I feel when I’m dancing. I’m unaware of limitations… When I’m participating in a class, for that time, I’m ageless. And I think that’s to do with creativity. I think creativity is ageless. You can be creative from birth to death and it’s an ageless process.”

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Group Flow

“When you click with a person you’re with, and you just go off on your own, and it’s just amazing to take part of, and you know that the other person is feeling exactly that. That there’s a symbiosis about the way that you’re reflecting them, or mirroring them, or moving with them, and something quite unique is created.”

Image: Matisse, 1910

If I take anything away from my master’s degree, it isn’t the detailed steps of performing a rigorous qualitative analysis, or the ability to construct a logical argument in a literature review. Sure, those technical skills are important, but anyone can revise textbooks and re-learn those skills fairly quickly. What I learned is an insight that can only be gained from doing. It is applicable not only to DfH research, but to any project you will tackle in your professional career. Venturing outside of your field’s traditional approaches and ways of thinking will open up the possibility of novel methods that may just be what you need to answer a pressing question or solve a difficult problem. Most of the time, it’s as simple as paying close attention to what is around you when you’re outside the environment that informs your dominant way of thinking. For example, I was consumed by objective, medical research approaches because of my degree program’s foundation in health sciences. But, during the twelve months of my thesis project, my roommate was a visual anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. I did not consciously choose a methodology with many similarities to visual anthropology because of my conversations with her; but upon reflection, I must have been inspired while we sat together at our (very small) shared kitchen table and pseudo co-working space during the autumn months of 2018. Ultimately, this arts-informed, photo-elicitation approach produced two outcomes: it challenged the traditional boundaries of how dance scientists might collect and disseminate data, and it served to answer my DfH research question more accurately than if I had stuck to tradition.

If something in this article piqued your interest, I invite you to research it further or to email me at ellis.m17@edu.trinitylaban.ac.uk. I’m very happy to answer questions and chat about DfH research!

Special thanks to the wonderful people from Trinity Laban Dance Science and Learning and Participation for their support during this project.

References:

Crumbie, V., Olmos, F., Watts, C., Avery, J., & Nelson, R. (2015). The impact of dance interventions on mood and depression in older adults. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 49(2), 187–190.

Gouvêa, J. A. G., Antunes, M. D., Bortolozzi, F., Marques, A. G., & Bertolini, S. M. M. G. (2017). Impact of Senior Dance on emotional and motor parameters and quality of life of the elderly. Revista Da Rede de Enfermagem Do Nordeste, 18(1), 51–58.

Keogh, J. W. L., Kilding, A., Pidgeon, P., Ashley, L., & Gillis, D. (2009). Physical benefits of dancing for healthy older adults: A review. Journal of Aging & Physical Activity, 17(4), 479–500.

Cole, A. & Knowles, J. (2008). Arts-informed research. In J. Knowles & A. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 55-70). https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452226545

Harper, D. (2002). Talking about pictures: A case for photo elicitation. Visual Studies, 17(1), 13–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/14725860220137345

McFadden, S. H., & Basting, A. D. (2010). Healthy aging persons and their brains: Promoting resilience through creative engagement. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 26(1), 149–161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cger.2009.11.004

Pain, H. (2012). A literature review to evaluate the choice and use of visual methods. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(4), 303–319. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691201100401

Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior: The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education, 24(3), 369–387. https://doi.org/10.1177/109019819702400309


Did you like this article? Find out more about studying a Masters in Dance Science at Trinity Laban: 

https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/study/dance/postgraduate-programmes/msc-mfa-dance-science

Dance for Health during the COVID-19 pandemic

By MSc Dance Science alum Anastasia Paschali 

Over the last few weeks, daily life has seen drastic changes for many of us as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. National social distancing measures have led to school closures as well as suspension of performances and public events. With rapid and uncertain developments, staying safe and taking care of our health and well-being is more important than ever. The dance community’s response to COVID-19 has been strong and united. Practitioners and schools quickly took to online platforms, advocating that movement should remain an integral part of people’s daily routines.

As a Trinity Laban MSc Dance Science graduate, I thought it would be important to share some of my current thoughts on ‘Dance for Health’ during this pandemic and to discuss some of my own MSc Dance Science findings on ‘Health promotion among dance students in higher education’.

Dance for Health response: ‘Stay positive, patient and productive’

Regular dancing can strengthen physical abilities and cognitive skills, maintain strong bones, improve posture, increase balance and co-ordination, as well as aid with a range of mental health benefits (NHS; BUPA). We know that dance has a significant part to play in improving the health and wellbeing of the population, combining physical capabilities and artistic interpretation (One Dance UK). However our recent -and possibly prolonged- lifestyle changes increase the risk of sedentary behaviours, including spending excessive amounts of time sitting or lying down for screening activities (watching television/using mobile devices), reducing physical activity levels (Cheng et al., 2020).

As general guidance, the World Health Organisation encourages communities to integrate exercise in their daily lives and stay physically active in limited space: “Stay physically active during self-quarantine”.

The global dance community responded immediately by adapting to the changing environment. Many practitioners and schools quickly took to social media to provide virtual dance training for their students and the general population. It was wonderful to see this collective online action, which encouraged home participation in dance and empowered individuals to gain control over factors influencing their health. There are simply so many excellent examples of Dance for Health responses to the pandemic, some are highlighted in The New York Times and Pointe Magazine. Also, Dance Magazine suggests “Apps for dancers who are social distancing”, including mental health, entertainment and cross-training. Finally, the Scottish Ballet continue live streaming daily classes on dance for Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and dementia as well as family barre for parents and children. These responses ensure communities stay connected to their support networks throughout periods of change.

MSc Dance Science research on health promotion, health and wellbeing.

My thesis research at Trinity Laban investigated health promotion approaches among dancers in higher education. Health promotion acknowledges the wider determinants of health such as environments, communities, health services and public policy. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) proposes action through advocacy for health, equity and coordinated action across all sectors.

Under the supervision of Dr Liliana Araújo, I interviewed ten undergraduate and postgraduate dance students (six women, four men; mean age= 21 years ± 1.26) from several higher education institutions in the United Kingdom. Interviews explored students’ experiences and perceptions of health, including questions on lifestyle, health services and environment. Definitions of health and wellbeing, health-promoting behaviours and sources of support emerged as dominant themes. Considering the current times, I wanted to share a summary of these findings (Fig. 1), as well as my thoughts on the role of health promotion throughout COVID-19.

Final TL Blog (fig1)

Results:

Dancers defined health as a holistic, hedonic and individual experience. All students described physical and psychological domains, often mentioning happiness in their definitions. A valuable network of social and emotional support from family, friends, teaching staff and healthcare professionals worked in tandem to facilitate dancers’ health and wellbeing. Finally, all students engaged with health-promoting behaviours; examples included recreational activities for the body and mind (e.g. reading, napping, drawing, walking). Moreover, dance students reported that developing resilience had an impact on their ability to withstand and positively adapt to challenges in their lives. On the whole, dancers acknowledged their responsibility and own role in promoting health and wellbeing.

Conclusion:

Whilst developments with COVID-19 remain unpredictable and uncertain at the moment, the dance community’s immediate response has been united and powerful. Dance for Health programmes and resources continue to be delivered virtually, whilst many artists are offering live streamed classes for those who may be home-bound. Creative thinking is needed to reach members of the public who may be isolated, vulnerable or have no online access to resources.

Health promotion offers us an expanded view of health, which is important to keep in mind during the current difficult times. Health is individual to each one of us and changes over time. We need to focus on what we can control during this unprecedented time.

Dance students I interviewed felt that activities such as reading, drawing and walking facilitated their health. Also, dancers I spoke to highlighted the value of an extensive network of social and emotional support from family, friends, educators and healthcare professionals.

It is vital we stay connected and keep in touch with our support networks. Dance is a powerful tool which can offer so much to so many during this unprecedented time.

References:

NHS – Dance for fitness

BUPA– Health benefits of dancing

One Dance UK – Dance, Health & Wellbeing

Chen, P., Mao, L., Nassis, G. P., Harmer, P., Ainsworth, B. E., & Li, F. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): The need to maintain regular physical activity while taking precautions. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 9(2), 103–104. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2020.02.001

World Health Organisation – Stay physically active during self-quarantine

The New York Times- Ballet Class & Coronavirus

Pointe Magazine – Dancing through COVID-19

Dance Magazine – Apps for dancers who are social distancing

Scottish Ballet – Digital Health Classes

World Health Organisation – Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion

 

Additional links and resources:

One Dance UK

Arts Minds

International Association for Dance Medicine and Science

British Association for Performing Arts Medicine

Sense about Science

MIND

Community Dance


Did you like this article? Find out more about studying a Masters in Dance Science at Trinity Laban: 

https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/study/dance/postgraduate-programmes/msc-mfa-dance-science

Trinity Laban Top 12 of 2019

It’s that time of year again where we look back at all the amazing memories from the last 12 months. From conversations with Steve Reich to launching a brand-new programme, 2019 certainly didn’t disappoint. Here are just a few of the highlights.

1. We learnt a thing or two from Steve Reich

October was an exciting time for new music at Trinity Laban as prolific minimalist composer Steve Reich visited us at our Faculty of Music to receive an Honorary Fellowship and take part in a Q&A with our students and staff where he shared unique insight and advice:

“Write something so moving and magnetic they want to hear it. Music should absolutely rivet you so you’re just in it – if not the composer or performer has failed you.”

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The celebratory event opened with a performance of Reich’s iconic work Electric Counterpoint arranged for electric viola by our Head of Strings Nic Pendlebury.

2. We hosted the first ever London International Screen Dance Festival

Curated by Reader in Choreography at Trinity Laban Charles Linehan, and screened at the Laban Theatre, the inaugural London International Screen Dance Festival featured 24 films from 5 continents, including 5 world premieres.

The event was a celebration of the inventive and experimental integration of movement, choreography and the moving image on screen.

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3. Harp student Noelia Cotuna joined the Berliner Philharmoniker Karajan Academy

Harp student Noelia Cotuna not only won the Trinity Laban Soloists’ Competition 2019, but was also selected for the prestigious Karajan Academy, a young artist development programme giving her the incredible opportunity to play with the world-famous Berliner Philharmoiker.

4. We launched a brand-new dance science programme

In September we welcomed our flagship undergraduate cohort to our bespoke Dance Science Lab. The new BSc dance science programme, based at our Faculty of Dance, builds on our reputation as a world leader in dance science.

“I chose Trinity Laban [for dance science] because I really liked how they connect with not only the other dance science students on the masters, but also the other dance students within the school” – Rachel, First-year BSc Dance Science Student

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Hear more from the students about why they chose to study on the BSc.

5. Our students performed with West End stars

During the summer Musical Theatre students shared the stage with current stars of Broadway and The West End for a spectacular night of show tunes as part of Greenwich Music Time. Students performed alongside stars including Marisha Wallace (WaitressDreamgirls), Rachel John (Hamilton) and winner of ITV All Star Musicals and much-loved Coronation Street star Daniel Brocklebank.

Our students also joined Ramin Karimloo and Celinde Schoenmaker for the debut UK concert performances of Dr Zhivago at Cadogan Hall (Lambert Jackson Productions). They received rave reviews from critics and were invited to join Ramin again this spring for the upcoming production of The Secret Garden at The London Palladium.

MT students at Greenwich Music Time

6. We travelled to Hong Kong for the British Council’s festival SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity

Ahead of CoLab 2019 – Trinity Laban’s annual festival of collaboration – Head of CoLab Joe Townsend and Director of Dance Sara Matthews travelled to Hong Kong for British Council’s festival SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity.

Working at the cross-over of art and science, the Trinity Laban mentors collaborated with dance and music students from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts to create CoLab Journeys, a 17-minute semi-improvised, immersive performance that combined original movement and sound.

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7. We launched an award that champions creative innovation

In 2019 we created the Trinity Laban Innovation Award to provide a unique opportunity for final-year undergraduates to access professional development support.

It forms part of our aim to help emerging artists find their voice and innovate in the cultural industries, one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy.

This year, the diverse and innovative proposals spanned female artistic expression, boundary-pushing genre development, and the power of the arts for positive change in the community.

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Find out more about this year’s recipients.

8. We continued our unprecedented commitment to programming work by women composers

2019 was the culmination of our Venus Blazing initiative in which music by 120 female creatives was programmed across 60 varied public performances.

We reflected on its impact at our Venus Blazing Symposium in December, an inspiring day of music and discussion, and looked ahead to future plans to help ensure a lasting legacy for underrepresented artists in the industry.

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9. The Gold Medal was at Southbank Centre

We were excited to take our Gold Medal competition to Southbank Centre for the first time at the beginning of 2019, where our 7 finalists performed on the Purcell Room stage in front of a sold-out audience.

Awarding-winning trumpeter Alison Balsom OBE, who judged the competition, commented on the ‘staggeringly diverse evening’ and its ‘creative programming’ before naming violinist Elena Abad the winner.

Not only did we have a new venue, but we also had a new category to represent Musical Theatre students, and introduced an Audience Prize.

We’re looking forward to returning to Southbank for 2020.

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10. Students from the Juilliard School visited Trinity Laban to celebrate the Merce Cunningham centennial

In July we welcomed students from The Juilliard School for a one-week collaborative project in celebration of choreographer Merce Cunningham’s Centennial.

Together, Trinity Laban and The Juilliard School students performed a Cunningham repertoire-based MinEvent, staged by Robert Swinston, Director of the National Centre for Contemporary Dance in Angers, France and Trinity Laban Dance Lecturer Daniel Squire.

“This experience has had so much impact on my development as a dancer here at Laban. It challenged me beyond our normal curriculum and having the opportunity to delve deeper into the work of Merce Cunningham with the guidance of experts was so rewarding. Collaborating with the dancers from Juilliard was very inspiring.” – BA2 Trinity Laban Student Hannah Wallace

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11. We hosted a new festival of creative ageing

In October 150 Lewisham residents contributed to the joyous grand finale of Age Against the Machine, the London Borough of Lewisham’s brand-new festival of creative ageing.

Hosted in our Faculty of Dance the day of free events featured pop-up performances, workshops and exhibitions and included the world premiere of Finale!, a specially-commissioned music and dance work about identity and aging created in collaboration with 90 Lewisham residents.

The day emphasised the power of creativity, championed older artists and challenged perceptions. Sydenham Singers member Andrew Rahim described the project as “a creative and nourishing endeavour that reached out to all ages.”

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12. We saw awards and accolades aplenty

During 2019 our staff, students and alumni won various high-profile awards across the performing arts industry, including wins at the Jazz FM Awards, One Dance UK Awards, Ivors Composer Awards, Black British Theatre Awards, and a Mercury Prize nomination.

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These are just a selection of the incredible moments and events at Trinity Laban during 2019. What a way to end the decade, we are can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store.

To keep up to date with all things Trinity Laban visit our website. Or follow us on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

 

5 things you didn’t know about Dance Science

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Building on our reputation as a world leader in Dance Science, Trinity Laban now offers an exciting BSc programme.

In this blog written by our flagship cohort of BSc Year 1 Dance Science students, we explain five things you may not know about studying Dance Science.

1. It’s not only about injury & injury prevention

Research into helping dancers overcome or prevent injury is incredibly important, but it’s not the only reason to investigate the dancing body. Dancers who understand how their body works from a physiological and biomechanical perspective are able to work more efficiently and productively. This knowledge can support injury reduction but also allows so much more in terms of enhancing practice and performance.

2. It’s not only physical

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Another thing you might assume about Dance Science is that it only looks at the body. In fact, there is more need for investigation into the psychological health of people who dance as well as how dance can contribute to wellbeing for everyone. Dance science has a holistic approach that explores the physiology and psychology of movement in a way that also supports creativity.

3. It’s not necessarily about supporting those who already dance professionally/vocationally (or at all)

Two examples of research that benefits “non-dancers” who take it up as a hobby (often at an older age) are in classes for people with Parkinson’s and Dementia. The research here shows not just that it is helpful for people of any age to dance and enjoy themselves in a healthy, social atmosphere, but that areas of brain activated while being instructed to dance helps them do things their body and mind are otherwise unable to. Dance science is bringing new knowledge to the wider population.

4. It’s new and growing

9J1A9885Dance Science has not been around for that long compared to other sciences.  For those with their own questions (even if they don’t really know what they are yet!), there is a lot of work to do towards understanding the art form from a scientific perspective so it’s exciting to be on the forefront of this new discipline.

5. It’s not all academic theory

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Those who study Dance Science don’t necessarily have to become academic researchers. Understanding the body and mind through learning about anatomy, biomechanics, nutrition, motor skills and psychology, while developing your personal technical dance skills, improves your own self-awareness and helps you to relate to other dancing bodies.  This is invaluable for any career in dance. It’s also enjoyable and quite thrilling to learn, in a very practical way, how to use field tests and lab equipment that help dancers appreciate their capacities in a different light.

Submit your application for our BSc Dance Science programme on UCAS Conservatoires by WED 15 JAN, and this could be your life in September next year. Here are some handy hints and tips on writing the personal statement section.

 

Hints and Tips for your Personal Statement

If you are applying to study at a UK conservatoire starting in September 2020, you can now make a start on your application. Here are some handy hints and tips on writing your personal statement from us.

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If you want to apply to study at a conservatoire next year, it is likely that you will need to apply via UCAS Conservatoires – the UK admissions service for conservatoires.

The personal statement will probably take a bit more time and thought than the other sections, as it’s your opportunity to tell your chosen conservatoires why you would make a great student. If you’re feeling a bit daunted then don’t worry – our handy guide should help!

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Where to start

You will have roughly 500 words (4,000 characters to be exact) to write about the qualities, skills and experience that make you suitable for your chosen subject. You will use the same personal statement for each conservatoire you are applying to, so make sure you do not mention anything about a specific institution.

To get started, you might want to create a mind map using the following points/questions:

  • Why are you applying to study and train at a conservatoire?
  • What are your reasons for applying to your chosen programmes?
  • What interests you about your chosen area?
  • What is your experience within your chosen specialist area? For example, membership in youth orchestras, participation in dance productions…
  • What other skills and experiences make you suitable? Extracurricular clubs and societies, employment and/or volunteering experience are great for soft skill development such as teamwork.
  • If you are an EU/international student, you should also mention why you want to study in the UK, your English language skills (if English is not your first language) and why you want to study abroad rather than in your own country.
  • Once you have jotted down ideas using the bullet points above, it should be easier to structure the piece.

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Make sure you…

  • Have plenty of time to write it before the deadline, as it might take a few attempts until you are happy with it
  • Place more emphasis on the skills and experience that conservatoires value the most
  • Make the statement snappy and easy to read
  • Write in a natural style
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Ask another person such as a teacher, parent or guardian to read it through if you can

Avoid…

  • Exaggerating the truth, as you might get caught out at audition/interview
  • Going off on a tangent, as the word count is limited
  • Sharing your personal statement with anyone else applying to a conservatoire or university, as UCAS Conservatoires has the technology to screen all personal statements to make sure they are original. Even if you wrote yours, there could be serious consequences if there is any similarity between different statements

Do not…

  • Copy any part of your statement from a website or another person, as you could get caught as above!

For more information on how to apply to Trinity Laban’s Music, Dance and Musical Theatre programmes, visit the How to Apply section of our website.

We wish you the best of luck with your application!

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Trinity Laban

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Hip Anatomy & Pilates for Turnout

In line with last weekends ‘World Pilates Day’, Trinity Laban Health have been celebrating this throughout the week, with special themed Pilates workshops for our dance and music students. Check out this educational blog, written by our Physiotherapist, Colette Stanton, (who is also a Mat Pilates instructor) on hip anatomy and turnout. 


Definition of Turnout

Turnout is a term to describe the position of the legs, in many styles of dance, in which each leg is outwardly rotated  and facing away from the midline of the body, if observed from the front.

This outward rotation of the hips is known as external or lateral rotation. Traditionally, ideal turnout has been defined as 180 degrees of external or lateral rotation of both hips combined. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are many anatomical and biomechanical factors, other than hip external rotation, that influence turnout and these factors vary greatly among individuals. Therefore, limitations do exist regarding this expectation.

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Hip Anatomy

The pelvis contains two identical halves, made up of three bones: Ilium, Pubis and Ischium. These three bones help to form the hip socket known as the Acetabulum. The Pubic Symphysis is the joint that connects these bones at the front.

The Sacrum sits between these two halves. It is comprised of five fused bones at the lower end of the spinal column and the coccyx or tailbone that is made up of four fused bones.

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The Femur is the thigh bone, the longest bone in the body. It consists of the round head, the neck, the shaft and two condyles at the base of the femur known as the lateral and medial condyles.

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Structure of the hip joint

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball of the hip joint is the round head of the femur and the hip socket is the acetabulum (as described previously). The depth of the acetabulum is enhanced by a horse-shoe shaped piece of cartilage known as the labrum.

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Capsule and Ligaments of the hip

The hip joint capsule is a sleeve of fibrous connective tissue and holds the head of the femur in the acetabulum, stabilising it. This capsule is lined with a synovial membrane that lubricates the joint by the secretion of synovial fluid. This capsule is further supported by three major ligaments:  iliofemoral ligament, pubofemoral ligament and ischiofemoral ligament.

Hip muscles that produce Turnout

The Gluteus Maximus

The six external or lateral rotators of the hip: Piriformis, External and Internal Obturator, Superior Gemellus, Inferior Gemellus, Quadratus Femoris

The Sartorius

The Adductors

Lower abdominal and lower back muscles are also important for turnout performance, Pilates can also be an effective approach to use to enhance these muscles.

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Pilates can be an effective method to use to target these muscles.

Keep an eye on the TL Health social media platforms and look out for Colette’s upcoming Vlog to see examples of Pilates exercises aimed at strengthening these muscles of the hip!

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COLETTE

Written by Colette Stanton, Trinity Laban Health Physiotherapist

Dance Science/Health Work Placement Reflections 2018-19: Volume 1

Trinity Laban Dance Science and Health were delighted to host the first work placement student of the academic year – Hannah Scott! Here are Hannah’s reflections of her week working with us.

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to gain work experience alongside the amazing Dance Science and Dance Health team at Trinity Laban. I had never before visited the conservatoire but was overwhelmed by its facilities and welcoming staff. Despite my placement being only one week I cannot believe how much I learnt and experienced.

I am currently in my graduate year at Middlesex University working towards my BA honours degree in Dance performance.  Prior to university I completed my dance training at Elmhurst Ballet School followed by working alongside Ballet Cymru on their pre-professional programme. Although I have always been involved in the dance community I have had very limited exposure to Dance Science, despite having a strong interest in the field. The aim of my week at Trinity Laban was to develop my knowledge and understanding of dance science, to both utilise within my practice and also see whether it may be something I wish to pursue further in the future.

Throughout my placement I was given a variety of different tasks and responsibilities to help assist the staff within the department. Unfortunately the current MSc and MFA Dance Science students were away during my week at Laban. However I was extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to speak to almost every member of staff on a one on one basis in regards to their different roles within the department and their relationship with Dance Science. This was extremely valuable for me to discover each individual’s background and their routes into Dance Science.

Throughout my week I fortunate to work closely alongside Lab technician Scott Sinclair. Scott introduced and taught me how to use numerous pieces of equipment used by students on the MSc and MFA programs to collect data and research from dancers. I especially enjoyed learning about the VO2 max test which measures the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense exercise. During the week I was lucky enough to have had the chance to be tested myself. This gave me an insight to see exactly how the equipment worked whilst also learning about my personal cardio fitness and endurance capacity. One of the highlights of my week was putting all I had learnt in the lab into practice by helping assist Scott in his lab demonstration in front of Japanese students from ‘Senzoku Gauken College of Music’. This was great way to test my knowledge from the week and give me another opportunity to use the equipment.

I also worked closely alongside Clinic Administrator Anna Williams and the two Graduate Interns Jessica Lowe and Leanne Steel. It was great to hear about their different journeys into dance science and their positive experiences on the MSc program at Laban. I was particularly interested in Jessica’s thesis in regards to Dancers with learning difficulties. Towards the end of the week I was lucky enough to go and observe a rehearsal alongside Jessica by choreographer/dance maker Sivan Rubinstein. Sivan was creating a piece working purely with dancers with learning difficulties. It was amazing to see these dancers come together and how they were able to recognise different working methods which worked best for them. It was also great to see the response from some of the dancers in regards to Jessica’s project and their enthusiasm for involvement in order to progress her research even further!

During my week I was also extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to speak to both Head of Dance Science, Professor Emma Redding and Program Leader, Liliana Araujo. Both Emma and Liliana gave me valuable insights into the MSc and MFA programs which have now led me to want to apply myself in the future.

I am extremely grateful to everyone I met during my work placement at Trinity Laban and I hope to cross paths again soon!

Written by Hannah Scott, Trinity Laban Dance Science/Health work placement student: 11th – 15th February 2019