What goes on at...Siobhan Davies Dance

Siobhan Davies Dance are an Arts Award Centre, and supporter. They deliver a terrific range of events, workshops and programmes for young people. We caught up with Projects Coordinator, Emily Jenkins to find out more.

What goes on at...Siobhan Davies Dance

What happens at Siobhan Davies Dance?

Siobhan Davies Dance is an investigative arts organisation based in the RIBA award-winning Siobhan Davies Studios in Elephant & Castle. We produce and tour the work that choreographer Siobhan Davies makes in collaboration with film, dance and visual artists, and we host exhibitions and events at Siobhan Davies Studios.

What do you offer to young people?

We offer a number of opportunities for young people to work with professional choreographers, including workshops, a year-long course, and making performance works.

Land was our first youth commission; three choreographers worked with 25 young performers to create and perform the piece in Morden Hall Park, a National Trust property in Merton as part of Big Dance 2012. In 2014, Designed Elements brought a landscape designer in as a collaborator with the choreographer and young performers to make a site-specific piece at Paperworks in Southwark.

Next Choreography is our year-long course for 14 – 21 year olds interested in making their own work. The project introduces choreography and looks at different approaches used by a range of artists such as visual artists and film-makers. This year the group explored choreography in the studio, attended dance performances and exhibitions, and had guest speakers including curators, a dramaturge, performers and choreographers. They are now working on a festival to share their experiences.

Our wider programme includes performances, film screenings, exhibitions, talks and opportunities to 'meet the artist', most of which are free to attend.

How are you involved in Arts Award?

Siobhan Davies Dance is an Arts Award Centre and an Arts Award Supporter through events; look on our Arts Award page to find out about talks, exhibitions, performances and workshops which can contribute to an Arts Award qualification. Throughout 2014/15 we're supporting participants of Next Choreography to gain their Silver Arts Award.

What can we expect from Next Choreography in the coming year?

You can sign up to take part in one of our free taster sessions in May if you think you might like to join the Next Choreography course starting September 2015. The session will introduce you to the course leader, Charlotte Spencer, a professional choreographer, who will give you a sample of a practical workshop, an overview of some of the artists you'd get to meet during the course, and how to apply. If you'd like to sign up for one of these sessions please click here.

The Next Choreography Festival is taking place on 4 July 2015 from 2pm – 8pm. The day will offer workshops, film screenings, performances by the participants of the course and professional artists. We also have a special opportunity to take part in a dance writing course led by writer and critic Sanjoy Roy, produced in partnership with Dance Umbrella.

What is the biggest challenge the organisation faces?

We are relatively new to Arts Award and Next Choreography is in its first year, we are learning from the young people we work with about how to best reach more potential participants and audience. We'd like more young people to come and take part in the various activities/events we have on offer and to find out about Siobhan Davies Dance. We want more young people to be involved in our whole programme, not just our youth events and we're hoping that the Next Choreography Festival and Arts Award activity will help with this.

What is the best thing about working for the organisation?

For me Siobhan Davies Dance stands out from other dance organisations by working across different artistic disciplines not just dance. We explore the art of choreography by looking at the work of other artists from the world of film, visual arts, and architecture. We often work collaboratively with artists and other professionals such as scientists or writers and our Studios come alive as a hub for creative diversity. Our building has two beautiful Studios which are used by a wide range of companies, I often find myself engaged in exciting conversations with artists from different organisations whilst making tea in the kitchen!

What relationship do you think young people have with dance?

I think young people come across dance in all sorts of ways, through social dance or watching it on TV. The young people that are taking part in our projects and courses don't necessarily all want to be professional dancers. Some of the participants are currently studying psychology, theatre and visual arts, however they're all passionate about dance and want it be part of their lives in some way.

Is there anything you particularly want to promote to young people at the moment?

Yes! Aside from the taster sessions and the Next Choreographic Festival mentioned above, we have a new three-part exhibition opening in May by the ceramicist Tamsin van Essen responding to movement and stillness from the dancers within the building. All information and event details can be found here. Siobhan Davies Dance is also going to be in residence at The Barbican as part of Station to Station in July to embark upon the initial process of making a new work for 2016 investigating the nature of human bodily sensation.

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