Chloe Loftus Dance: Loneliness and an Act of Strangers

I spent my formative years growing up in New Zealand, a place with plenty of space where people say hello as they pass you and doors are left open. I’ve lived in the UK for 20 years now and I can’t help but notice the steady shrinking of our sense of community, where social engagement is replaced by screen time. George Monbiot refers to it as ’the age of loneliness’ and describes the tragic and sometimes fatal result of this loneliness as seen through increased anxiety, depression and addiction. “Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.”

Chloe Loftus Dance 'Act of Strangers' (Image 1 - James Merryweather)

It is this lack of interpersonal communication that is inspiring my current work. ‘Act of Strangers’ looks at the potential of the stranger standing next to you and seeks to encourage you to look up and engage with the world. An unexpected conversation and smile from a stranger has the power to shift your mood and lift your spirits.

Outdoor work is wonderful in its ability to access all walks of life so it feels an ideal platform for this work. It’s been a really interesting process developing this work… the challenge of how to deal with a serious subject matter including mental health issues in a way which engages and lifts audiences. Through wonderful directorial support from Gerald Tyler and the physicality of my fellow dancer Hugh Stanier, we have created a work that I believe is touching but also physically dynamic and engaging, hopefully leaving audiences uplifted and inspired.

Chloe Loftus Dance 'Act of Strangers' (Image 2 - James Merryweather)

We’re really looking forward to bringing our work to GDIF.

Cubitt Steps, Canary Wharf
Saturday 2 July | 15:00 & 16:15
More information here

Act of Strangers was commissioned by Articulture and the Wales Outdoor Arts Commissioning Consortium and is touring throughout Summer 2016. For more info see www.chloeloftus.co.uk

GDIF2016 – Deaf Men Dancing

We’re highlighting some of the companies and performances scheduled for this summer’s festival. First up is an introduction to Deaf Men Dancing and their show TEN, written by Deaf Men Dancing’s Choreographer and Director Mark Smith

Deaf Men Dancing is an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different styles of dance incorporating British Sign-Language into movement. The essence of my work is to use sign language as an inherent part of the creative process and integrate it into the movement vocabulary, rather than use it as a commentary to the performance.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 6

The ideas I developed for TEN, were inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George. I was also inspired by vaudeville & music hall acts.

When I was a kid, Charlie Chaplin was my idol. I grew up watching Chaplin’s films. The silent film format was accessible for me to watch because it was very visual and even had “subtitles” or just “titles” for me to read. That’s where I got the idea of getting the dancers to hold printed cards with text to the audience during the performance. While I was researching for TEN, I discovered that Chaplin was good friends with a deaf actor Granville “Red” Redmond, who appeared in Chaplin’s films. Chaplin admired the natural expressiveness of a deaf person using American Sign Language. Chaplin’s interest in Deaf Culture gave me the idea to incorporate a deaf awareness course into TEN but in the form of Ten Commandments.

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In the 60s, Gilbert & George famously created a live-art performance called Singing Sculpture where they stood on a table for eight hours. Gilbert held leather gloves & George held a walking stick. Their faces were painted in silver. They mimed to an old music hall song called Underneath The Arches – a song in which two tramps describe the pleasures of sleeping rough. It was a telling choice, harking back to prewar England and traditions of vaudeville, while also identifying with the fringes of society. Singing Sculpture gave me the idea for TEN. I’ve collaborated with designer Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed DMD’s previous outside performance, Alive!, and he’s designed a table for two dancers to perform on and deliver “speeches” to the audience in a form of Speaker’s Corner or Soapbox such as those that used to to be located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate. The table is also a kind of Pandora’s Box, containing surprise props for the dancers to use for the performance.

I collaborated with deaf musician and composer Sean Chandler to develop ten different tracks and I was lucky to have sound designer Syd Funnell onboard to provide the soundscape for TEN.

Deaf Men Dancing will perform TEN at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Times & location tbc.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 8

Follow Mark Smith on Twitter @DeafMenDancing1
Deaf Men Dancing on YouTube
Deaf Men Dancing website

Without Walls 2016 Programme Announcment

Following on from a successful open call, Without Walls has just announced the 13 shows that they will be commissioning and supporting in 2016!

Without Walls is a consortium of leading arts organisations and festivals dedicated to the development of the UK’s outdoor arts sector. The Associate Touring Network supports the onward touring of work commissioned and presented by Without Walls.

Greenwich+Docklands International Festival is a proud member of Without Walls, which is also composed of Brighton Festival, Hat Fair, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Salisbury International Festival, Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts and Stockton International Riverside Festival. It is also comprised of affiliated members Just So Festival, Chesire and Showzam! Blackpool with Creation Centre Partner 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Centre.

We’re thrilled to be having many of these companies with us this coming festival (GDIF2016). More details to come soon!

"Urban Astronaut" by HIGHLY SPRUNG Commissioned by Without Walls

“Urban Astronaut” by HIGHLY SPRUNG
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Bed" by ENTELECHY ARTS Commissioned by Without Walls

“Bed” by ENTELECHY ARTS
Commissioned by Without Walls

"BLOCK" by MOTIONHOUSE & NOFIT STATE CIRCUS Commissioned by Without Walls

“BLOCK” by MOTIONHOUSE & NOFIT STATE CIRCUS
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Camper Van Of Love" by NEW ART CLUB Commissioned by Without Walls

“Camper Van Of Love” by NEW ART CLUB
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Le Cheval Solitaire" by ABOUTNOWISH Commissioned by Without Walls

“Le Cheval Solitaire” by ABOUTNOWISH
Commissioned by Without Walls

"A New Duet (working title)" by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY Commissioned by Without Walls

“A New Duet (working title)” by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY
Commissioned by Without Walls

"The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory" by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES Commissioned by Without Walls

“The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory” by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES
Commissioned by Without Walls

"H.O.H." by FAR FROM THE NORM Commissioned by Without Walls

“H.O.H.” by FAR FROM THE NORM
Commissioned by Without Walls

 Commissioned by Without Walls LANCE MOI DANS L’AIR LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more "Lance Moi Dans L'Air" by JOLI VYANN Commissioned by Without Walls


Commissioned by Without Walls
LANCE MOI DANS L’AIR
LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more
“Lance Moi Dans L’Air” by JOLI VYANN
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project" by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK Supported by Without Walls

“Miss High Leg Kick’s Audition Project” by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK
Supported by Without Walls

"Masquerade" by YELLO BRICK Commissioned by Without Walls

“Masquerade” by YELLO BRICK
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Project_Vee" by CIRCUS GEEKS X PANGOTTIC Commissioned by Without Walls

“Project_Vee” by CIRCUS GEEKS X PANGOTTIC
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Phone Box" by COREY BAKER DANCE Commissioned by Without Walls

“Phone Box” by COREY BAKER DANCE
Commissioned by Without Walls

Opening Weekend Programme Announced

GDIF is delighted to announce programme highlights for the opening weekend of this year’s Festival.

As part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals, kicking off on Friday 26 June at 20:03 precisely, La Compagnie Oposito will be making a welcome return with their latest processional production Kori Kori.

On Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 June, Greenwich Fair will be unpacking a massive two day programme of outdoor arts, with a particular focus on circus for 2015, whilst across the river in Tower Hamlets the London premiere of a new outdoor production, 451, will feature inventive storytelling, fire and special effects.

More details of our opening weekend programme appear below. We’ll be revealing further exciting plans for the rest of this year’s GDIF (26 June – 5 July) later this month, so save the dates in your diary now!

 

La Compagnie Oposito - Kori Kori

La Compagnie Oposito – Kori Kori

Kori Kori
Fri 26 June, 20:03
Greenwich, SE10
Presented by La Compagnie Oposito

This UK premiere leads audiences on a theatrical journey through Greenwich packed with colour, music and passion.
[Part of Royal Greenwich Festivals]

 

Gandini Juggling - 8 Songs

Gandini Juggling – 8 Songs

Greenwich Fair
27 June (12:00 – 21:00)
28 June (13:00 – 18:00)
Cutty Sark Gardens, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park,
Greenwich, SE10

This weekend of European style outdoor street theatre and dance features artists from the UK, Belgium, France, Denmark and Spain.

15feet6 - Dynamite & Poetry

15feet6 – Dynamite & Poetry

Companies include: Southpaw Dance Company, Avanti Display, Artizani, Stefano di Renzo, Gandini Juggling,  Cathy Waller Company, StopGap Dance Company, Baroloso, Plunge Boom, TinCanCompany, Emergency Exit Arts, Travelling Light Circus, Toc de Fusta, The Human Zoo, 15feet6 and Collectif Malunés.

Collectif Mallunes - Trailler Sens Dessous Dessous

Collectif Mallunes – Trailler Sens Dessous Dessous

Offering the largest and most intensive programme of street arts in the capital, Greenwich Fair is an overload of unconventional theatrical experiences, from a musical performance on a stage filled with water, to juggling reinvented to 8 classic Rock & Roll tracks, a choreographed fairground Carousel and an explosive acrobatic experience.

[Part of Royal Greenwich Festivals]

 

Periplum and Corn Exchange Newbury - 451

Periplum and Corn Exchange Newbury – 451

451
Sat 27 June, 22:00
Bethnal Green Gardens, E2 9PA
Commissioned by GDIF and presented by Periplum and Corn Exchange Newbury

This spectacular, immersive show, inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, depicts a society where reading is forbidden and books are burned.

UK premiere to open GDIF2015

La Compagnie Oposito

La Compagnie Oposito

Kori Kori

La Compagnie Oposito

UK premiere to open GDIF2015
20:03pm on Friday 26 June
Part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals

Last seen at GDIF in 2007 with their visually stunning production which evoked the streets of Africa, this year, the Festival welcomes back Compagnie Oposito, one of France’s most highly regarded street theatre companies.

Kori Kori_Cie.Oposito_course@_web Rarely seen in this country, Compagnie Oposito are famed for their virtuosic approach to processional performance. For GDIF’s opening night they will present the UK premiere of “Kori Kori”, featuring a chorus of actors and musicians carrying chairs. This very topical production, takes inspiration from the idea of community, and how by acting together, it’s possible to create a better world.

Photo by Xavier Cantat

Photo by Xavier Cantat

Accompanied by an energising musical score combining rock, waltz, tango and classical music, this entrancing promenade production is an opportunity to catch street theatre at its very best.

Photo by Xavier Cantat

Photo by Xavier Cantat

Unlike previous GDIF’s opening nights, “Kori Kori” will be presented in daylight with the simplest of staging, to create a stripped back, yet emotionally compelling experience.

Conceived as a journey, the production will start at 8.03pm precisely.

We’ll see you there!
The GDIF Team

Chris Pavia of StopGap on Outdoor Dance

Chris Pavia
The Awakening choreographer StopGap Dance Company 

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

I’ve had a lot of experience doing outdoor arts because I’ve performed with Stopgap Dance Company in SPUN Productions and Tracking both of which were part of GDIF. I learnt from this experience that it’s important to make dance material actually outside and not in a studio because we have to get used to the gravelly concrete floor, the sun in our eyes and the wind in our faces.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

And the atmosphere of the outside is different to working inside. All of these things change the way we dance. We also have to think about the audience and how they surround the performance. The dancers can be seen at all times in the outdoors because there are no wings.

Credit StopGap Dance Company

Credit StopGap Dance Company

 

But the audience being so close is exciting because I get to see their faces and I get to interact with them. It’s harder to do this in theatres where it’s dark, and I enjoy being close to the audience when I perform.

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Check out StopGap Dance Company in ‘The Awakening’ at Dancing City!

Inside Out

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.15.38 AMLucian Msamati

Artistic Director, Tiata Fahodzi

For a mostly building based company like Tiata Fahodzi, the making of Hamba, our first outdoor show, has very much been the ultimate ‘back-to-basics’ challenge. The bricks, tricks and mortar of theatre buildings offer a degree of certainty: audience there, actors here, share a drink over there.

Outside on the street you are literally and figuratively at the mercy of the elements; yes, there are codes and understood rules of engagement but there
is no guarantee that they are espoused and respected in the same way by everyone else.

The fundamental need of the performer in this zone however is the same: to demand, engage and hold the attention of an audience. So how do I move someone to
tears as they run to catch the bus or chat or daydream? For us the answers began with questions from within: what makes you stop/ turn your head/ pay attention/ engage in the park/street/bus/motorway tailback etc.? When a car backfires or tyres screech, we react viscerally. There is something unguarded and honest in it.

In other words, the more honest and unapologetic the subject or object is the more likely we are to pay attention. The Proscenium Arch of a theatre justifies our  great and magical games of complicit make believe; doing so in your local park or high
street demands that you justify yourself! In other words the concept of certainty has to come from within.

This was our cue to buckle down and tell the story honestly, openly, enthusiastically and with integrity. Storytelling, make-believe and theatre existed long before the West End. Architecture, technology and lyricism never trump the truth: a good story, told with invention doesn’t need a huge budget to work. Now is our time to be honest and courageous and hope you are transfixed!

Catch The Legend of Hamba one more time tonight (Thursday, June 26) at 8:30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Global Streets

GDIF2014 Photo Ambassador – Dave Flynn

GDIF is very excited to have Dave Flynn, winner of last year’s Awardio.io photo competition, as this year’s photo ambassador for 2014. Make sure to follow our blog for photo updates from Dave during this year’s festival!

dflynn

I am Dave Flynn, I became interested in digital photography in 2010 after being made redundant from a 15 year retail career.  Since then I’ve achieved several photographic distinctions ranging from gold awards and highly commended achievements with the society of wedding and portrait photographers (SWPP).  My highest accolade was winning Nature & Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012, again with ‘the societies’.

I lived in Greenwich for 15 years and I attended the GDIF festival for the first time last year.  I just went along for the photo opportunities and ended up staying there for most of the first day of the festival. The atmosphere was fantastic when I arrived and the  buzz continued to grow throughout the day.  I remember it rained on and off but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits!

There were huge crowds and loads of fun.  Wherever you looked there was loads going on. The beached whale was a highlight and attracted plenty of onlookers.  The Orblys (huge eyeballs) on stilts were my personal favourites, they entertained everyone and the kids were excited and scared of them.  I also loved the interaction between the performers and crowd which added to the amazing atmosphere.  I’m excited to shoot this years festival and looking forward to capturing the atmosphere once again.  I can’t pinpoint who I’m looking forward to seeing the most but I’m exited to catch the highlights of the opening and closing ceremonies as those artists are there for one performance only.

Come rain or shine, I’m sure this year’s event will be the best yet and personally I’m delighted to be a part of it officially.

GDIF2013 - Credit Dave Flynn

GDIF2013 – Credit Dave Flynn

Safe House – A place to call home

By Andy Cooper, Director at Draw & Code

After premiering to a crowd in excess of 5000 in Brighton, Safe House will be travelling to the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival on June 21st. The show is a large-scale, outdoor theatre event that explores our relation to the home – which is ironic considering just how little time the cast and crew have spent in our own homes recently!

With projection-mapped animations that feature during every one of the 45 minutes of the show’s duration, the ‘Draw’ side of Draw & Code were kept very busy indeed in the run-up to this fantastic outdoor theatre event. We were required on site during rehearsals to tailor our animation to the needs of the performers from Wired Aerial Theatre Company and the producers from Metro Boulot Dodo. While animation is always time-consuming, it doesn’t often result in you travelling the country!

safehousecloseup

The rehearsals were staged in Leicester, Metro Boulot Dodo’s home town, where the disused Haymarket Theatre was about the only building we could find that was capable of fitting the giant set. This oversized creation stands a lot taller than a real house, which makes for quite a challenge for the dancers who are suspended from it.

When I set off to take up residence in Leicester I decided to take the office iMac with me on the train. After all, what if the laptop isn’t enough? If you’ve seen a photo of somebody with an iMac on a train and gone “really?” – it was probably me!

safeactionaction

Rehearsals were draining, but a physically and logistically challenging production like this cannot leave any stone unturned. Thankfully it’s always fun working with the spectacular Wired Aerial performers. They are part athletes, part artists and we have enjoyed seeing them interact with our animations.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though; having upped sticks from our Liverpool sanctuary, for much of the time I was Draw & Code’s sole representative in the chilly theatre while they could all head back home to Liverpool. The rehearsals began during the tail-end of the winter – in a venue that had no heating. It’s fair to say that an abandoned theatre lacks a few creature comforts!

safehousepromo

The contrast between the first day of rehearsals in a dingy abandoned building and the public premiere of Safe House in sunny Brighton was amazing. As we sat in amongst the barbecues on the grass of Hove Park it was the first time in a long time that I could relax, although the cast and crew will have been tense.

The show went without a hitch and the crowd loved it. We hope you can leave your own little castles for a few hours, wherever you are, and join us to watch Safe House!

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Safe House will be performed at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2014 on Saturday June 21st at 10PM in Mile End Park, Tower Hamlets.

Nuno Silva on ‘Soul of Fado’

Choreographer & Dancer
Soul of Fado – GDIF 2014 (June 20 & 21)
Soul of Fado is the sister show for A Darker Shade of Fado. Whereas the latter is more intimately poetic (for indoors), Soul of Fado is more explosive and dynamic (we’re also using fire to enhance the story visually).

 

fado5
When devising it I tried to concentrate mainly on the most important elements of the action: a love story filled with passion with a sinister twist, gorgeous contemporary dancing and live music (both the music and my singing are modern and original, inspired in traditional Fado).
A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

When we started making the piece I dreamt a lot about it. And part of those dreams involved a portuguese poet (the wonderful Fernando Pessoa, now deceased), the Sandman comics, and a story about a forbidden love affair between a musician and a Moorish princess. Pessoa used to spend his nights writing standing up, creating heteronyms with the might of his pen. The Sandman inhabits the dreams of mere mortals, and the princess is transformed into a violin that her lover will play for all eternity.

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

I wanted to create a story filled with similar poetry, but this time instead of a pen, because I wanted to create a show about Fado, it would be a portuguese guitar. And inside the guitar a Spirit would reside (a malevolent and jealous Spirit of Fado!), coming out whenever the guitar is played.

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

I tried finding a portuguese guitarist here in the UK but it was proving a near impossible task (and although we had Arts Council funding, the thought of bringing a portuguese guitarist over from Lisbon was just a financial unrealistic dream because we were making a show from scratch, and their regular presence in rehearsals would be the ideal scenario) so I decided to get two (amazing) dancers who can also play the acoustic guitar. Little did I know that, half way through the rehearsal process, we all found out that they could also play the portuguese guitar (not as experts obviously, but enough for us to use the portuguese guitar instead of a normal acoustic one!). So now we have a show where dancers, apart from dancing, play the portuguese guitar and we have a fado singer who, apart from singing fado, also dances.
A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

A Darker Shade of Fado by Chris Nash

We’re poetically breaking traditions!