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.

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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.

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

From Trolleys to Market Stall

GOOD NEWS for those who loved ‘Trolleys’ in GDIF2013, C-12 Dance Theatre is returning to GDIF this year with their new production ‘Market Stall’!!

C-12 Dance Theatre is back!

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Guess who is the thief?

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Watch Out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blended with circus skills, parkour and dance, Market Stall shows you a thrilling and comedic battle between fruit seller and fruit thief. Are you ready for this fruity adventure?

Sat 21 June 13:10, 15:45
Sun 22 June 12:10, 14:45
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10
FREE (Runs approx. 20 mins)

Catch me if you can!

 

GDIF2014 Directie & Co. Site Visit

539042_10151106009941380_927651790_nBy Emily Thomas, Projects Administrator at GDIF

Sophie and I are busy pulling together the arrangements for GDIF2014 and recently organised a rain-soaked site visit with a Dutch company performing as part of Greenwich Fair. Yvonne van den Akker is one of the two directors of Directie & Co., whose show Laundry XL will visit GDIF this summer. This all-female performance weaves together elements of dance, theatre, visual art and, ironically, a bit of water. This is our first site visit with an artist for this year’s festival, and for me being new with GDIF, a great opportunity to walk the various festival spaces and start to imagine the physical reality of the festival amidst these months of planning.

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I used to work on the Watch This Space Festival at the National Theatre, where Theatre Square in front of the building was our foremost site for the festival. Having such a choice of sites is still quite a novelty for me and we discussed with Yvonne a number of possible spaces for staging the performance, which has a processional element. The next stage will be to piece together the rest of the Greenwich Fair programme to see where all the elements best fit, so we can maximise each show’s potential. It’s a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Watch This Space 2011 courtesy of the National Theatre

Watch This Space 2011 courtesy of the National Theatre

Yvonne had a whistle stop tour in London, leaving and returning to Amsterdam in the same day. A brief but productive visit, and I hope that the company’s next visit in June will be sunnier for her.

Laundry XL by Directie & Co. (Photo by Cies de Vries Fotografie)

So while it is nice to now be back in the cosy, dry GDIF offices, for me this has been a very welcome introduction to GDIF2014. I feel that we’ve now properly met!

GDIF major contributor to Jerwood Choreographic Research Project

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THE JERWOOD CHOREOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PROJECT A National Dance Network initiative, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and delivered by DanceXchange. The Jerwood Choreographic Research Project (JCRP), is designed to develop a new culture of investment across a breadth of choreographic research to … Continue reading