Dance Base Spring Residency

I honestly felt so privileged to be dancing, choreographing and creating work at Dance Base, Edinburgh’s dance hub, which is part of the European Dancehouse network. The studios and the facilities are tremendous. There is an outstanding creative energy in the place that you can feel whilst moving. The studios are light and airy and a real pleasure to be in. What a wonderful place to be for a week, with dancers Gordon Raeburn and Julia McGhee. Katie Armstrong will also dance in the piece and she shall join us for our next residency.


“Development time has and will be vital in exploring what boundaries and borders mean to different people, and has so far taken on many approaches including land and water boundaries, using ordinance survey maps as a physical score for movement. I wish to explore creating boundaries in the space, both physical and mental, and to explore imposing these upon one another. I want to try new approaches to creating work, and look at different ways of encouraging myself and the dancers to express the subject, sharing our personal boundaries with the audience and breaking down barriers.”

I am choreographing a new piece that will be premiered at Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh, and then taken to Shetland to be performed at Mareel Arts Centre, Lerwick. Both of which, I am incredibly excited about.


The week started with looking at material we had created during our previous Research and Development time (thanks to plan B creative!). This was great as a starting point, and we used movement that was developed using ordnance survey maps as a score, and on emphasising being pulled and a counter balance in reaction to this. We had previously discussed water being a barrier, and the issues this can cause as well as what it can encourage for those bound by this.

We then looked at creating movement with a physical restriction. This kind of worked; what we created is almost being content in our limited space. This is still relevant as a lot of our discussions surrounded how some boundaries and borders are positive and help us to make decisions by restricting our focus. Obviously this also has it’s counterparts and is not always a good thing.

I wish to expand upon our physical box solos by bringing them closer together, imposing upon each other. I feel this relates to how our boundaries can affect others and that it’s not only us that feel the impact of them.

We then began imposing ourselves upon one another, with thanks to ideas from the Open Class in which I delivered on the Thursday. Participants shared their opinions on the theme and we began improvising in the space, imposing on others and exploring how this effects them and how we react. I wish to explore this more, and to push myself and the dancers further. I would like to thank Libby Tamang and Emma Snellgrove here, for their honesty in regards to input and encouragement. Thanks guys!!


One thing I realised from the residency is that people expect physical boundaries to be broken within the dancers. The theme is emotive, especially at such a time of political unrest in regards to land borders and who can cross them. I do not want to focus on the political aspect of this, however of course it effects us all, our perceptions and our ideas around such a theme.

I believe that I need to push us further. How can we impose ourselves upon each other? How can we show the discomfort from this? How can I contrast this from our movements created from ordnance survey maps that have a very different quality, and yet still have these coinciding together to form a coherent piece?

The residency really did show me that I need more time to explore. It is such a broad theme, and because I was concerned about having material at the end of the week, I really stuck to my morals to begin with, creating work in a way that I was used to, that didn’t push me as much as it could’ve done. This is of course a very vital learning experience, and I do still like, and will keep, some of what we have developed. Despite this, I am aware of how much more there is to do and how much is yet to explored.


We shared the work on progress on the Friday, using Critical Response Process as a method of regulating feedback and ensuring it’s relevance and appropriateness in regards to the piece and it’s development. This was really very useful, and went the process of : 1. Asking the audience for statements of meaning 2. Giving myself opportunity to ask questions 3. Neutral questions from respondents and 4. Permissioned Opinions.

It was beautiful to share the work and to hear so many opinions in regards to it. A few people loved it and wanted to know when they could see it again (YAY)! Some said they wanted to see more strife among performers and their personal boundaries. Others said that it made them think of the North and standing stones (I then told them I was from Shetland!), and others said it was beautiful dancing but the choreography could be pushed. I was so delighted of the beautiful dancing comment and definite agree that I need to push the choreography further. I appreciate all the feedback. I cannot wait to take it on board to develop the work. It is so important to me that the work resonates with the audience, and a great way to ensure that is to include the audience as part of the process.

The residency left me hungry for more. Hungry to explore, create, play and push my comfort zone.

It was such a pleasure to be at Dance Base, and feel so grateful for time there. I feel that leaving it wanting more and having more ideas to develop is brilliant. I am so excited to be able to expand them further. Now to get developing exercises and a structure for ensuring I can do so!!!

I am delighted to announce that I will be in residence at Dance Base again 2nd-5th May 2017. There will open class, exploring the theme on Thursday 4th and a performance for the work in progress at 5pm on May 5th. Please join us if you can. More information here.


Many thanks, once again, to the dancers, Gordon Raeburn and Julia McGhee who shared, created and explored with me. Can’t wait to do it all again!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s