At Salisbury Arts Centre the Chelsea Hotel performance was heralded by the work of Jigsaw Youth Dance, who have been working with Earthfall tutors Billy Brown and Hannah Darby.
Basing their ideas on sections of Chelsea Hotel repertoire, the young dancers were able to develop their own creative work, which they performed for the Chelsea Hotel audience as they awaited curtain-up.
“I’m really thrilled at the work the dancers have come up with,” said Artistic Director Jess Cohen. “They’ve developed some really interesting ideas and it looks fantastic.”
The workshops have provided the group not only with the opportunity to learn professional repertoire and unique choreography from trained professional dancers, but allowed them to showcase what they had learned and then see the source of the workshops live on stage.
Carrie Madgwick, Jigsaw founder and leader, has been working hard with the company to instil a professional ethos and standard within the group. We were delighted when the opportunity arose for Jigsaw to have a two-day residency with Earthfall and then support the company by performing a curtain raiser before “Chelsea Hotel”
The group worked solidly for two days to create a short but effective performance that challenged the conceptions of dance. In that time the group learned many new approaches to contemporary dance which they will take with them on their Jigsaw journey.
The group were proud to have been part of a new and one-off performance unique to Salisbury Arts Centre and Jigsaw.
Becka Davies, Youth and Education Officer, Salisbury Arts Centre
Artistic Director Jess Cohen travelled up to Coleg Ceredigion in Aberystwyth last week, with tutors Murilo Leite and Timothy Wilson, to run a week-long series of dance, theatre and music workshops with young people at the College.
The students, from a mix of performance disciplines, explored various facets of the choreography, composition and structure of the Chelsea Hotel performance in order to produce their own creative performance at the end of the week.
I loved working with the students at Coleg Ceredigion. We demanded a lot from them and sometimes their bodies really hurt, but they got through it and put on a wonderful performance. I’m full of admiration for the resident tutors who put their heart and soul into their work week-in and week-out.
Artistic Director Jess Cohen
Performing arts students performed guitar, bass and vocals, while media students documented the work on film and conducted Andy Warhol style interviews, which appear alongside the dance during final performance.
Working on basic lifts, counterbalances, contemporary movement and music, students examined new elements of performance, which will enhance their learning and development and build up their professional experience.
“Didn’t want the week to end – I want all weeks to be like this one. Earthfall residency has been top to bottom incredible”
James Baker, Performing Arts Student, Coleg Ceredigion
Chelsea Hotel is on its way to Aberystwyth Arts Centre tomorrow night for its penultimate performance in the Autumn tour.
Hi Billy, could you tell us a bit about you and your work with Earthfall?
I recently graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in dance and I first worked with Earthfall on a seven week placement as part of my course. I was able to work with Marketing Officer Lewis Gwyther and tutors Cet Haf and Sarah Rogers, as well as going along on part of the Chelsea Hotel Spring tour. I got to learn a lot about the way Earthfall operate; not just as a performance collective, but as a professional, touring company and educational organisation.
Myself and Hannah Darby, were working with a really talented and bright group of young dancers from Jigsaw Youth Dance in Salisbury. They were aged between 14 and 16 years old and there were 15 girls and one boy.
What did you work on?
We spent the first day running warm-up exercises and teaching the group some Chelsea Hotel repertoire. They picked it up really quickly. Many of them have a background in ballet, rather than contemporary dance and it was great to see them experimenting with Earthfall’s movement style and choreography. I was really pleased with the way they listened and responded to the rep that we taught them.
On the second day they took the moves and the new technique we had taught them and used it to devise their own work. We can teach them technique and new ways of movement, but I think it’s really important for dancers to develop their own style of movement and expression based on the education and influences that they are exposed to. The work we have done with them has helped them to diversify their own repertoire.
They’ll also have the opportunity to present their work to the Chelsea Hotel audience before the performance in Salisbury Arts Centre, which is a fantastic opportunity.
What were the highlights of the residency for you?
I think it was seeing the young dancers really getting into the new movement styles we taught them and then watching as they developed their own choreography. You could really see the way that the new style had changed how they thought about their physicality and their own dance styles and, as a tutor, that’s really important for me.
You can catch the work of the Jigsaw group before the Chelsea Hotel performance at Salisbury Arts Centre on November the 28th. Hope to see you there!
The Autumn tour of Chelsea Hotel brings educational workshops to dance groups across the country. Earthfall tutors break down elements of the choreography and rehearsal processes to teach aspiring and emerging dancers of all levels; from young people and beginners, to university students and dancers about to embark on their professional careers.
The workshops are designed to teach Earthfall’s methodology and convey a sense of the way in which the company work, as well as providing production-specific examples of the work featured in the current show. Participants are then able to see examples of what they have learned during the performance, allowing them to contextualise their experiences.
So far, the workshops have received a highly positive response from participants:
“It was a different and interesting experience – I really enjoyed it!”
“Really good experience and I enjoyed it a lot – the best thing was ‘Free Running’ because it needed lots of energy!”
“It was really interesting and I learned loads.”
“Thank you for giving the kids this opportunity…they really enjoyed themselves. We are thinking of incorporating some of the work they did into their end of term showcase. I’m sure that Chelsea Hotel will also be an inspiration.”
– Rhian Cadwaladr, Sbarc Co-ordinator
Augmented by the new digital study pack as an educational aid and resource, the company hope that the workshops will disseminate Earthfall’s professional ethic, choreography and ideas into the wider community and will inspire future generations of professional performers.
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