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HeadSpaceDance on how film and theatre have influenced their creative process

Charlotte Broom and Christopher Akrill return to the ROH with a trio of dance-theatre collaborations in April 2014.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

20 March 2014 at 11.23am | Comment on this article

Acclaimed UK dance company HeadSpaceDance return to the Linbury Studio Theatre on 16 April to present a new programme of work entitled If Play is Play….

The programme, directed and curated by Charlotte Broom and Christopher Akrill, is comprised of three self-contained pieces, including a dance-drama collaboration with theatre director, playwright and actor Matthew Dunster.

'Matthew has a very strong sense of movement and, although he’s not a choreographer, he has a passion and a real eye for it', explains Charlotte. 'He has a very different approach to choreography and has brought a real theatricality to the piece, creating it in scenes as if he were visualizing the dance as a play.'

'He told us all to watch a selection of Woody Allen films in which an over-the-shoulder camera follows the actor through a variety of scenes', says Chris. 'This sense of following a character from space to space is something he wants to re-create in the piece.'

'We used a technique common among actors but new to us in dance', adds dancer Clemmie Sveaas. 'He gave us scripted dialogue, and we had to action each line. The words inspired a certain movement from us, such that the whole script became about actions, and we used that to create a duet.'

Luca Silvestrini, the Artistic Director of dance-theatre company Protein who worked on Three & Four Quarters with the company last year, has also created a piece for If Play is Play….

'We wanted to work with Luca again to bring something from the old into the new', explains Charlotte. 'Luca asks a lot of questions, which creates a very personal piece; the movement he choreographs comes out of the dancers own experiences, beliefs and hopes.'

'We are only in our second day of creation at the moment', says Clemmie. 'We are throwing a medley of ideas into the room and playing with them, exploring what the piece could be. From all of that improvisation, he draws out the best bits, condensing the movement into a structure.’

The programme also includes a new duet by Johan Inger, Associate Choreographer at the Nederlands Dans Theater. Johan, who has been working with HeadSpaceDance in Seville, has created a new piece set to Arvo Pärt’s Silouans Song for String Orchestra.

'When we were rehearsing, Johan would often have the music on repeat and be improvising to it and creating material while we were warming up, as if the music was feeding him', says Chris. 'The more times you heard the piece, hidden nuances - instruments, sounds, rhythms - that you didn't hear the first, second or fifth time, became audible which really inspired the creative process.'

HeadSpaceDance made their debut as a company last year with Three & Four Quarters, a programme that was critically acclaimed. This year, the company has expanded to include dancers Gemma Nixon and Jonathan Goddard.

'The Linbury is a very nuturing space and has really encouraged us to develop as a company', says Charlotte, 'and it is great to now have the input, experience and artistic weight of Jonathan and Gemma in the company. We want the company to grow so that we can both extend the relationships we have and create new ones with young dancers and choreographers.'

If Play is Play... runs 16–24 April. Tickets are available. It is a co-production with The Royal Ballet Studio Programme.

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