Professor Christopher Bannerman
First posted: March 2021
The scope of ResCen’s activities has always embraced engagements such as ArtsCross, that involve work with a range of UK and international artists not formally attached to ResCen. The period from 2016 saw significant expansion of such projects which took place with support from a number of arts colleagues, notably Theresa Beattie who who co-developed the innovative Jerwood Choreographic Research Project and who has offered advice and guidance as part of a dialogue which has extended over a ten-year period.
The pages that follow evidence that wide range of engagements and the title, Other Voices, also reflects the UK’s dynamic arts sector where relationships and collaborative partnerships are often in flux; and it is especially gratifying that artists represented here were all linked to ResCen projects and most were able to be at our Hendon Campus and interact with staff and students.
This is true of Hetain Patel whose Jerwood Choreographic Research Project (JCRP) was supported by ResCen, amongst others, and it was fascinating to see how Hetain facilitated a collaborative process with a large creative team to realise the film, Don’t Look at the Finger (2017). This also illustrates how a network of artists operates organically and effectively to enable creative projects, also a fascinating aspect of the UK arts ecology. In this case, Freddie Opoku-Addaie, selected by Hetain to play a leading part in the film, was also part of Dance Umbrella’s 40th Anniversary as a guest curator, and so was interviewed as part of ResCen’s partnership with Dance Umbrella.
The network also was a factor in the re-working of Fagin’s Twist (2016) by Tony Adigun who was a Work Place Artist at The Place, where ArtsCross London 2013 was based. Eddie Nixon, now Artistic Director at The Place, was key to initiating the project and once again the company, Avant Garde Dance, was located at Middlesex University’s Hendon Campus and led workshops for students following their residency. Another interesting aspect of the dance ecology are the pathways into and through dance and in this case, Tony’s entry via hip hop and commercial dance is a case in point, as is Rehearsal Director Julie Ann Minaai’s journey from Hawaii where her teachers included ex-dancers with Nederlands Dans Theatre and Rambert Dance Company and dancer Josh Smith who started as a figure skater at age seven.
The interview with Annie B Parson stemmed from the Elixir Ensemble’s 2017 performance The Road Awaits Us which she co-created with colleague and performer Paul Lazar in which I performed. This added another dimension to the interview which also featured another route into dance as Annie B could not begin her training until she could drive; and on the day she received her driving licence, drove straight from the issuing office to a ballet class in another town. Her thoughts on the arts, politics, her keen sense of formalist structures and the importance of the absurd as a response in peculiar times reveal the background that informed the work. [Elixir Ensemble 2017 website]
The interview with Akram Khan arose because of his work with the award-winning Chinese classical dance artist HUA Xiaoyi, whom I had met at the Beijing Dance Academy because of her interest in the ArtsCross project. Xiaoyi’s ambition was to move beyond her classical dance context and to perform an evening of contemporary works – and she told me that she wanted to work with Akram Khan. This was easier said than done, but in the event the planets aligned, and two time slots became available when they could meet – and it was arranged. Xiaoyi’s preparation was assisted greatly by her participation in workshops in China arranged with Farooq Chaudhry, the Executive Producer of the Akram Khan Company (AKC). In another example of the arts networks, AKC dancer Joy Alpuerto Ritter participated in the workshops in China, and was subsequently selected as a choreographer for ArtsCross Beijing 2019 after she created and presented Babae (2018) at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells.
For Akram and Xiaoyi, there were risks: there were language barriers, and differences in dance trainings and traditions, and the fact that Akram had never previously worked with a dancer he did not know well. Another ‘first’ was also the distant performance premiere which meant he was not able to follow the process into its final fine-tunings in the theatre. Despite this, the chemistry in the studio was good and the process flowed. In this interview Akram revisits his journey into and through dance, discusses his philosophy and the experience of working with HUA Xiaoyi.
Curator & Chief Editor: Prof. Christopher Bannerman
Project Coordinator: Pei Li Ng
Web and Design: Andrew Lang
Documentation & Editor: Andrew Lang
Cover photos: Akram Khan rehearsal, Middlesex University 2017, photo: Andrew Lang;
Ritterman Studio, Middlesex University 2017, photo: Andrew Lang
All material copyright © 2018 ResCen Middlesex University unless otherwise indicated
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