Julie Crothers DANCING on stage with the DANCING logomark on top

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Video: ERC Project DANCING – Arts-based Research

This video showcases the collaboration with Stopgap Dance Company, including interviews and rehearsal footage. `

Produced by Feenish Productions Ltd.

Text Description

This video describes the collaboration between the DANCING project and Stopgap Dance Company, an inclusive dance company. The video contains interviews as well as footage from rehearsals and ‘work-in-progress’ performance of the dance piece that Stopgap are working on as part of the DANCING project.

The video begins with some cue cards introducing the DANCING project with some up-beat guitar music on the soundtrack. On the left of the screen are the logos for the DANCING project, Maynooth University and the European Research Council. A text appears which reads:

“The research project DANCING aims to challenge the cultural exclusions often faced by people with disabilities, and to contribute to the creation of a more inclusive society. Alongside legal research, DANCING involves arts-based research. This short film explores DANCING’s collaboration with Stopgap Dance Company, at a key juncture in February 2023.”

From here, the film begins with a shot of Dance House in Dublin, a modern building in Dublin City Centre where the performance will take place.

Shots of rehearsals alternate throughout the video with clips speakers, at times heard in voice over.

We see the DANCING principal investigator, Professor Delia Ferri. She has straight brown hair and is wearing a Maynooth University hoodie. She is standing in the rehearsal space speaking to the camera:

“Today we are in Dance Ireland with Stopgap Company, and this is the arts-based research of the DANCING project. I’m very excited to, to have the opportunity to work with Stopgap, and to collaborate with them, in order to create a very accessible and inclusive performance. Stopgap is an inclusive company, and they have amazing experience of creating this type of inclusive and accessible performance. But we want to bring together with my project, the accessibility to another level and really create a piece of contemporary dance that is accessible to everyone. Lucy’s is preparing for [the performance] tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll have a work-in-progress sharing. There will be people here that will observe the performance and provide feedback on the accessibility and the inclusivity. “

The rehearsal is taking place in a large dance studio, brightly lit by floor-to-ceiling windows. We can hear the music from the rehearsal, which is more abrasive electronic music. We can see that the dancers include people with different disabilities and that they are dancing in a frenetic, contemporary style.

We see a clip of Lucy directing one of the dancers in a rehearsal, where they are practicing a solo involving slow, deliberate movements.

We see a clip of Lucy speaking where she discusses Stopgap’s role as a collaborator on the project. In this clip she is sitting outside in the campus of Maynooth University. A caption explains that she is Lucy Bennett, Co-artistic director of Stopgap Dance Company. She has dark curly hair tied back.

She says:

“Stopgap’s role in the dancing project, and my role, is to produce a new original piece of choreography that has a lot of integrated access, that showcases diverse and intersectional performers on stage. Like representing diversity and then also working with this integrated access to support a diverse audience to experience our dance production.

“When we first heard about the DANCING project, I think we were quite surprised. I was quite surprised. It’s quite unusual to get some funding or a commission from a law department in a university, but actually it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. You know, the arts can be quite a bubble and um, it’s really nice to get another perspective and, you know, there’s a lot of positivity and enthusiasm and it feels like we could really work together to support policy change, which would be incredible.”

Next, we see a solo being danced by Nadenh, a dancer in the company. Nadenh has a dark curly mullet haircut and is dancing in a wheelchair. We can hear an audio description from the performance. Nadenh’s solo is described as follows:

“notice how through curving forwards, driving his head down and snaking it up, propels him further. Two hands pulling the wheel backwards, zigzagging across from the right to the left. Head leading into a turn…”

Next, we are shown an interview with Nadenh, intercut with other clips of him performing as part of rehearsals. A caption tells us that he is Nadenh Poan, Senior Dance Artist and Choreographer in Stopgap Dance Company. He says:

“I really enjoy working in the inclusive dance company, because we have time to work, we have time to work together because we have a different body, and we have different shape. We have a different way to move, but we come together in one play and then to figure out how do we gonna move and how we gonna float together so well. It takes time.

“We are not looking for like success by tomorrow or the day after or next week or next month. It’s gonna take a little bit like time to improve it for that process. And it really inspired me because I feel so happy when I’m on the stage. I feel like home. “

Next, we see several of the dancers, practicing more frenetic dance moves. We hear a voiceover of the audio description, which attempts to capture their movements. We see the narrator reading at the front of the stage, calling out:

“So, um, maybe it’s a good time now!

Is it a good time? It’s gonna get busy here!

Really busy with dancers coming and going, like traffic!

They are coming and going at the stage, marching low, grooving sideways, and wheeling with a soft pinch of the wheel!”

The next clip shows another dancer, with long blonde hair and a striped jumper. The caption tells us she is Hannah Sampson, Senior Dance Artist of Stopgap Dance company. Intercut with further scenes of rehearsals she says:

“We are working on this long creative process of research and development of a new piece called Lived Fiction. We are all very different: different bodies; different personalities; different sizes; different heights and colour.  In each section we’ve got something that actually represents this character. So, Mo and Christian’s got a duet and Mo is like this very powerful, strong lady….

“I’ve got a solo like that with the clump of the dancers are behind me. And so, it is like we are speaking up for ourselves and standing up what’s right and we don’t let the doubters bring you down.

We see another clip of rehearsals. Again, the narrator gives an audio description for the movements:

 “It’s a frantic, frenetic expulsion of energy! Memory, community, individuality, celebrating the self! Uplifting each other, limitless we rise!”

A cue card appears on screen. Work in progress – Sharing Performance. Dance House, Dublin. 22 February, 2023.

We see and hear audience members gathering and sitting in the chairs assembled in the rehearsal space. Many audience members have printed programmes, and the audience are wearing masks as a COVID precaution.

 One of the team from Dance House welcomes the audience. Beside her there is a sign language interpreter, signing along with her.

“Hello everyone, welcome to Dance House. We are really pleased and excited to have Stopgap Dance Company here in residence this week and doing this sharing today as part of the European Research Council DANCING project, led by Professor Delia Ferri, who’s going to explain a little bit more about this really unique and exciting research into cultural participation and human rights”.

Next, we see Delia speaking to the audience:

“Arts-based research is very important because we want to understand in practice what makes art accessible, participatory, inclusive. In order to conduct this arts-based research, we are absolutely delighted to have established a collaboration with Stopgap Dance company.

“Today we will be sharing the work that Lucy and the dancers and the company have done so far for the project.  The choreography that you will see is actually something that is not yet finished, but we are interested in gauging how accessible and inclusive is perceived by yourself. And to that end, we will ask you for kindly to fill in a survey at the end of the performance”.

Next, we see a short clip of Lucy speaking to the audience:

“…Kane’s also written some poetic audio description. He’s also collaborated with some of the dancers to receive their self-felt reflections….We’re gonna start with the opening scene.”

We see the dancers stand up and move to the performance space to begin their presentation. We see clips of the performance interspersed with shots of the audience. On the soundtrack we hear the same abrasive, electronic score as before, as well as the narrator describing the movements of dancers as follows:

“Shoulders slide up the back, lungs fill with air. What is next? It’s exposing. It’s hiding. It’s no longer hiding. It’s colliding with yourself at full force. It takes its toll and screams expiration dates. It’s if you face a different direction. Can you do it just one more time, just one last time!”

Afterwards we see a shot of the audience applauding as the company takes a bow.

In a final sequence Delia speaks to the camera after the performance, giving her reaction. We see this shot interspersed with shots of the audience filling out a survey, and members of the cast, audience and Delia speaking to each other and looking pleased with how well the performance went. Delia says:

“It’s really exciting because the full team was involved in the preparation and we had a lot of meetings on this work-in-progress sharing, and it was great to be all here all together to see this coming to fruition. I think it went very well and there was a lot of engagement from the audience. Everyone was really, really happy with the performance and they were very appreciative that the company share their work in progress. They are looking forward to coming on the 24th of February, to the world premiere, so that’s fantastic.”

Finally, a cue-card appears showing the DANCING logo and full title ‘Protecting the Right to Culture of Persons with Disabilities and Enhancing Cultural Diversity through European Union Law: Exploring New Paths’ then the text ‘for further details on this project, please email hilary.hooks@mu.ie’.  The final cue card shows a European Union flag and the logos for the European Research Council, Stopgap Dance Company, and Maynooth University. Text on the bottom of the screen reads: ‘This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (grant agreement No. 864182)’.

Throughout this we hear more upbeat, percussive music and as the film ends, we hear the sound of applause from the performance once again.

Audio Description

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