9 Windows is a Corali performance commissioned by the Southbank Centre in 1996. We are incredibly proud to have been commissioned again to reimagine this original work in 2018 for their Concrete Dreams weekend. Concrete Dreams, was a three-day festival to mark the re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall after its recent renovation, as they say in their own words to ‘celebrate the rich and varied history of the Southbank Centre’s 1960s buildings, offering encounters with its past while looking towards its future’.
With the context of Concrete Dreams in mind, we knew from the outset that we wanted our new work to be forward looking and for our reimagining to also be an imagining. For this reason, we were keen to bring together dancers from our youth company, Kick Up, with the professional dancers of our core company. It was exciting to see how all the dancers involved developed and flourished from this experience and how fluid, easy and genuine the sharing of ideas was between them all. This confidence in exchange stemmed from an understanding of Corali’s creation process and ways of working that is fully owned by each dancer individually, and which translated into excellent performances from every dancer without exception.
Incidentally working with performers from different generations meant that the age range of 9 Windows Reimagined spanned the mid-teens to mid-fifties, and it was exciting for us to realise our new work could also be classed as an intergenerational. Even more pertinent for us to acknowledge was that working with dancers of different ages is not unusual for Corali, and is actually an important aspect of our practice.
Another lovely part of re-imagining the work, was that we tracked down the cellist with whom we had worked back in the 90’s, Ian Burdge. It was a delight to meet and work with him once more, and to see the dancers that now make up the company enjoy collaborating with a live musician.
In reimagining 9 Windows, it was fascinating to draw inspiration from specific qualities and textures of the original performance, and to create something relevant to the location of the Queen Elizabeth Hall today. What a treat to reimagine a past work now over 20 years old, and witness how our ideas and aesthetic have changed over time but that they remain vibrant and alive today, transfixing our Concrete Dreams audience.
In rehearsals we did we did tracing about bricks on different levels, choosing your favourite one and showing the other performers.
We passed a mirror across the line. Then we went across the space with our movements from photographs that we looked at. I choose a good movement and then everyone followed my movement across the space – it was water. I enjoyed it then we did duet I was working with Nicola from Kick up, working on my water movement. I enjoyed working with Kick Up they are good people to work with.
I like sharing with Kick up and how they move. I liked their movements with different styles and how they used their body in different ways. I like to learn different ways of moving and how to move my body. I like to learn how to be part of the team. I like to learn how to dance in different styles and with funky music.
I like to gain new qualities in in my dancing. I like to use fluid movements and make it more smooth and flowy.
I like to learn new things with Kick up and how they move and how they use their body. I like to be professional in working with Kick up and to take part.
I like leading in whole group with my water movement. I like leading with another person to do a duet together. I enjoyed leading it was my favourite part of the experience – I like to have leadership skills to help me to get more confidence.
I enjoyed dancing so much. I enjoyed working with Kick up it was good experience for me.
2018 is off to a good start for Corali. I’m particularly happy about this, because this year is also my 25th anniversary of working with the company, so it’s a perfect time for me to reflect on our work and practice. It’s good timing to do this thinking too because during 2018 we will be working with three of Corali’s long, longstanding partnerships –
the Southbank Centre, CGPLondon, and Tate – offering me the chance to look back and think about Corali’s relationships with these venues, what has made them work over the years, and continue to work today.
But firstly, what are our plans in 2018 with the three venues?
– with the Southbank Centre we are performing for the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) re-opening after its 2-year re-development; with Tate we are starting research for Corali’s ‘Fluxbox’ idea, our new engagement toolkit; and at CGPLondon we’re beginning the first phase of our residency in their new Bothy creative space.
Before I go back further, it is possible to see how each of these new projects has themselves been germinating since 2015. That year Corali was coincidentally invited by each venue to create work inspired by our archive, including a performance on the main-stage of the QEH before its closure for refurbishment, creating a page for a special bespoke book for CGPLondon, and performing at Tate as part of Heritage Lottery Fund’s conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. In truth it was this 2015 research that originally prompted me to reflect on our working practices with the three venues, as well as initiating ideas that have fed directly into our current 2018 projects.
Corali’s archive is a box of photographs and flyers that document our performances from 1989 to the present. For these 2015 projects I looked at photos of the performances we had created with each venue, dating back as far as 1995, when these relationships started, just 6-years on from Corali’s original inception.
I was delighted to look back at the photos, not just to reminisce, but also to see what they revealed about our work with each venue. The photos clearly captured how closely we’d worked with each, and how, over the years we had used many different spaces within, and outside them all.
At Tate Modern we’d performed outside the building, as part of its inaugural programme in 2000 before its official opening, we’d performed inside on the Gantry Bridge, in the gallery’s private community garden, in the education studios and in the East Room. At CGPLondon we had performed in all the spaces of the old gallery before refurbishment in 2000, and in the new site since then, including a promenade piece in the garden and neighbouring park, and in the vast raw space of Dilston Grove. At the Southbank Centre, we’d worked in the Clore Ballroom, in the Hot House, in the lift lobby, and I was pleased to remember, in an empty warehouse in Bermondsey, to which our Southbank audience was transported via river boat.
In revealing the where we had worked with each venue, the photos also clearly reveal the how. It is clear how important it was to work collaboratively with each venue and in particular, key individuals from each – Shan Maclennan at the Southbank Centre, Liz Ellis at Tate, and Ron Henocq at CGPLondon.
What is also revealed by these faded, many black and white, and many dog-eared photographs, is the strength of all our ambition to make the work. This ambition was exciting and vital. It was also on a genuinely equal basis; we were all totally committed to get the work made, shown and seen, and to develop an active discourse between the performance, venue and audience.
Without Shan Maclennan’s vision at the Southbank Centre over 20 years ago, we would not have been able to perform as part of their programme at all. If she had not said, ‘yes’, to us performing in a warehouse in Bermondsey, and not only ‘yes’, but also inviting ‘what about a riverboat?’, we wouldn’t have been able to create such an exciting set up with the audience. If Liz Ellis hadn’t said, ‘yes, I’ll ask th
e curator if you can perform on the Gantry Bridge – we just need to get the Bruce Nauman turned down for an hour’, we would never have been the first ever dance company to perform at Tate, watched through the windows on all levels of the gallery by over 500 people. If Ron Henocq hadn’t given us a set of keys to CGPLondon so we could come and go, and create as we wanted in a way that suited us, we would not have had the opportunity to gain such a depth of artistic exploration and creative risk, so fundamental to our practice now.
Ambition was met by ambition.
The cultural landscape has changed radically since we first started making and documenting our work. Disability dance and theatre was a very new genre back then, and
site-specific and gallery based performance was still viewed as ‘avant garde’. Back in the late nineties there was definitely no, #DancingInMuseums, and seeing a dancer with a learning disability was very much a rarity.
There is now an exciting new focus on gallery-based performance, and thankfully the words disability, participation and inclusion are beginning to be heard in current art discourse.
This is the platform and the time to test ambition further.
A methodology can never be stagnant and by encouraging equal levels of ambition with venues, promoters and galleries, we can continue to learn from each other, and to test new ways of engaging audiences, and to continue to deepen the artistic recognition and empowerment of artists with a learning disability.
The stage is set for exciting times in 2018.
Corali will be performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall re-Launch event April 29th at 13.00
On every Wednesday morning we do Professional Development Class in Brixton we do different things like warm up, duets and solo’s, sequences.
In the summer we went to Bethlem Gallery for the filming it was all day. The filming was good we did it outside on the grounds it was nice day we did different sections of the filming, the film is called Find Your Way.
We did Performance at Guy’s Hospital it was part of Breathe Festival there was different performances. There was Professional Development class, Kick up Youth, Sage Dance Company it was really good. I enjoyed professional development class performance it was good. I enjoyed watching Kick up youth they were good.
In October we did performances in 2 different Places – Great Ormond Street Hospital and Bethlem Gallery – we performed a live version of Find Your Way, based on the film we made at Bethlem Gallery in the summer.
We have done some fundraising training, with Dana and Steph and Max it was interesting we had to look at different rules. And we also looked at different questions about Corali and also about how to ask for money. We worked in pairs and we did role playing each other. I really enjoyed it.
“I was so excited when I was offered to choreograph a dance film instigated by a partnership between National Youth Dance Company NYDC and Corali, it is great to have the opportunity to create something completely new and that I was going to be given a cast of eight dancers to work with including mentorship from industry professionals.
The project begun long before getting into the studio, I had some creative development sessions with the film maker Tobi and the producer Zara. I had tons of ideas right away so we worked together to work out a storyline and some key themes. We liked the inspiration that Mazes gave us and also playing with the concept of imagination verses reality. From there we took our ideas and planning into some rehearsal development sessions where I worked with the two dance facilitators Corinne and Carly to plan creative tasks to work on once we got into the studio with the dancers – this is when the ideas started to come alive!
Once all this was in place we were ready to start the film residency…
Meeting and Greeting the Cast
All the dancers and staff gathered on the evening of 6 August to get to know each other and to settle into the accommodation. Just like NYDC residencies we moved into a skills development session right away and it was great to see that everyone was eager and confident to get up and try things out right from the start. It was pretty nerve wracking introducing the project to everyone as public speaking is not my greatest strength but it was a good challenge for me. That night when I went to bed I did a little more planning as I knew this was going to be very different for me, I am usually used to choreographing on myself but now I had eight dancers to work with!
Day 1 – Developing the Material
This was our first full day of rehearsals, it was a little overwhelming at first, there was a constant need to adapt and change ideas to make sure we could deliver the project on time. I was so impressed with how quick all the dancers worked and the creativity they brought to each task. I quickly figured that making a dance film is all about working on some key short sections rather than full sequences as I knew my film maker Tobi would be able to piece together all the sections. Eight hours of studio time flew by and everyone’s concentration and stamina was first rate! Back at our accommodation Tobi joined us for our skills training session and led a dance for camera workshop which got us thinking about camera angles and how dance is portrayed on film.
Day 2 – Refining the Material
Once again a packed rehearsal day, we started with a few more creative tasks and then had to refine all the material we had worked on. It was amazing how quickly the company learned what was needed and this allowed us time to really play with some of the more improvised sections. Over lunch we discussed and decided on what the costumes should be so that some of the team could dash out and pick up some items. We were ready to show Tobi and Zara what we had created by 3pm, it was great to have their feedback which was mainly to ensure that each section had a little more commitment, intention and clarity from the dancers, this was actually very similar feedback from when I performed in the latest NYDC piece Tarantesismic the choreographer Damien Jalet had asked for exactly the same qualities! Day two also brought us a bit of a turn in events because we had planned to film outside the following day but it turned out that it was going to heavily rain, luckily Zara had found a plan B and we quickly adapted our content to work in a Victorian warehouse in London Bridge!
Day 3 – Filming Day
Filming always takes longer than you think, a few seconds of film can take hours to shoot and we had only six hours to get all the material in the can. It took a while for the dancers to get used to having the camera on them, I had to keep telling them not to look into the lens, once they got used to it they used to it they did a great job of performing. Tobi shot many of the sections in multiple locations across the venue and in different ways using different angles. It is really hard to imagine how the film will edit together to create a whole work but I look forward to putting that together with Tobi. I am really proud of everyone and cannot wait to see the final result!
Looking back on the project
I have tons of ideas for future films, I really liked directing and found I could guide the dancers really well using visuals to get my ideas across for the movement qualities I wanted them to embody. It was great to have mentors as this helped me feel in control and that we created a strong and professional working environment together. I really liked the responsibility this project gave me, I sometimes felt a little strict but I wanted to get things right. My most exciting moment was on the film day when we started using the haze machine, the atmosphere was incredible, I am hoping that section looks amazing on camera!”
National Youth Dance Company (NYDC). Choreographer: Damien Jalet
NYDC member – Paul Davidson (also member of Corali)
I liked the film at the beginning – it was interesting to know about their process, and very good to see.
Costumes: I liked the black overalls at the start, they looked heavy. I liked the white tops and white trousers, they looked light and Soft.
Space: I liked the big space, it was enough space for the large cast to move around in. I liked how they used the space, when they weren’t dancing they were standing at the sides. I Liked the pattern on the floor – it was very Colourful.
Sound: I liked the timings of the rhythm of the Drums
Lightning: I liked the bright background lights.
Movement: I liked the different styles of movements, and how they danced one by one with the drums in the Middle. I liked the jumping, it was energetic and lively. I liked how they used different parts of their bodies, and how they communicated. Paul’s Solo it was Brilliant
It was good, it was Fantastic.
It’s an easy to get to, it’s a good place and accessible, and is good for wheelchair users.
I performed at Oval House Theatre as part of Corali’s Triple Bill on 28th February and 1st of March 2017. It was part of Ovalhouse First Bites programme and was a work in progress of Corali’s Dance Company new work. The evening had 3 performances and that was involved a group piece and 2 solo’s. After each of the evening performances we did a post show question answer at the end it was fantastic to get feedback.
Paul performed a solo that he worked on with Jasmin from Studio Wayne McGregor and the group piece was performed by Graham, Venisha, Jackie and DJ from Corali, they also worked with two dancers Pat and Danny.
My solo was based on my drawings that was gathered from research and collecting resources from the Tate alongside IntoArt. I made 3 drawings and these were my scorecards. This was the starting point for making movement, it was complicated to make and it was very long process. I enjoyed performing to an audience, it was a good experience, it was fantastic.
I loved doing my solo, I liked working on my own and that was new for me. I gained new skills and gained a lot of confidence. Trying new things out was a good experience for me. I was very confident and brave to perform in front of an audience. I was very happy!!! I enjoyed being in a theatre and having lighting and the music. It created a great atmosphere. I liked the music that Daniel Weaver had created it made me very cheerful.
Candoco Dance Development Day
By Paul Davidson and DJ
We met up at Greenwich Station to meet with Kasia (Corali Facilitator) and walked together to the Clock Tower. Today was our day of heading to the Candoco professional class in the morning followed by the Candoco Dance Development Day, which was led by Megan. We arrived at Greenwich Dance Agency; this was Pauls first time of experiencing GDA. Paul said the studios were beautiful, old and very big. We saw everyone warming up and it was a beautiful calming space, we gradually got ourselves into the morning Candoco class. The morning was very calm and the atmosphere was friendly. We slowly woke up the body and mind naturally. Paul remembered that that they massaged a partner with tapping and switched so everyone had a turn to relive any tensions in the muscles. Then we stretched out the muscles ready for the day’s session.
We started on the floor and felt the weight and heaviness of our bodies, using rocking, tapping, swinging to gradually wake us up. We used our own flow and rhythm based on our bodies individual needs. After this Paul remembers working in duets working with the ideas of lines, circles and improvising your dance flow and isolation. We did this to remind ourselves of the body and to refocus on remembering to “release” in order to find freedom in our movement. We travelled from wall to wall using those ideas. DJ shared the travelling experience with two new people in the group using the sequence to travel from one side to the other.
Communication through eye contact was something that was really important to Paul, we were told to use this as a way communicating in our duet to use the body and eye contact to communicate when dancing.
DJ was very excited to see they had a live percussionist who played the drums and piano. It has been a while since he had done a class with a musician and felt as though he had a strong engagement with the class. The musician worked with our improvisation of the group and the individual dancer’s, which was amazing!
Paul – “it’s a very nice feeling to have live music, its like you want to dance in a new world and dance differently because new dance is exciting. It helps me feel that I can believe in myself and am I being creative enough. It gives me more creativity’
We started working in two circular groups and connecting the group’s together using body parts as a way of finding another dancer. It gave us that feeling as though we were always connected.
After this we both had an hour to have lunch and a catch up before we went into the Candoco Dancer Development Day.
The afternoon session had such a great flow and we were both pushed outside of our comfort zones and looked at new ways of working/moving. We worked on an idea that there was plants and grass that covered the whole of the dance floor and we were asked not to destroy them and to keep moving in the motion. Lucy and Toke from Candoco told us to keep it moving but not to use rolling, or huge impact on the floor. This proved to be quite difficult…….
“The floor work was something that felt very different to how I have moved before. It was awkward, but awkward can be good, the more you do the awkward the better you improve as a dancer” Paul
“ It took me some time to figure out what I was doing but once I broke through it I went with it, it was a great sensation. I really learnt something there that day. To let my mind sink and to really be relaxed and let my mind go and let my body take over” DJ
We gradually moved to our feet and worked more creatively in partners, we both made a conscious effort to work with new people in the room and started with a really fun creative game. We played with connections using different body parts and how to break away. The group then worked its way into becoming one big group. We had amazing connections with people in the group and the Candoco Dancers gave us great ways of how to work with each other and experimenting with the movement.
The second part of the class we watched some of the Candoco repertoire and Paul recognised Toke one of the Danish dancers who was also facilitating on the day and supported Paul which his dancing. Megan then took us to working with ideas around based on the repertoire. Working with how your body moves and responding to your partners response. The last exercise of the day we were given 5 different commands and improvised based on those ideas.
We had a great day and came away with so much as individual dancers……
DJ “As a dancers I found new ways of communicating through the body and through the connection of other people in the space. Going along on the day, I learnt so much and had a great day. Candoco kept it professional and kept the pace going. We had a strong engagement within the group. I loved the rolling technique, I never thought I would master it and was pushed out my comfort zone but I GOT IT!!’
Paul “ I found the day very exciting and discovered new ways to work creatively, it was a way of developing your freedom of your body. It felt SO enjoyable!!!!! I am an experimental dancer so learning something new and different was exciting. Making something new is exciting and I enjoyed working being in engaged with the process, it makes a lot more sense to me as a dancer. I had to believe in myself and going along to the dancers development day made me have a lot more belief in my movement”