Evaluation - Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015

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Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015


Funded by

Course Leaders and Participants Course Directors Sharon Watson, Choreographic Director (Artistic Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre) Ken Hesketh, Musical Director (Professor of composition at the Royal College of Music) Guest Presenters Robert Cohan CBE, Professor at Middlesex University (Phoenix Dance Theatre Patron) Dr Joanne Butterworth, Professor of Dance Studies at the University of Malta Zoë Martlew, Cellist, performer, composer, educator, Didy Veldman, Dutch choreographer Peter Wiegold, Professor Head of Music Research at Brunel University Mike Dixon, Freelance writer for Tanz (Berlin) and Dance Europe (London) Course Participants Choreographers Adrienne Hart Claire Lefèvre Mbulelo Ndabeni Sandrine Monin Musicians Becky Wang Oliver Dover Sean Hamilton Hara Alonso Phoenix Dancers Carmen Vazquez Marfil

Composers Sarah Westwood Nichola Scrutton Eloise Nancie Gynn Roberto David Rusconi Additional Dancers Francesca Caselli Joshua Harriette Hannah Bateman Lisard Tranis

Andreas Grimaldier

Additional Personnel Tracy Tinker, Assistant to the Course Directors (Rehearsal & Tour Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre)

Sam Vaherlehto Ben Mitchell

Theresa Beattie, External Evaluator Ana Lujan Sanchez, Company Class Teacher (Week One)

Vanessa Vince-Pang

Antonio Borriello, Company Class Teacher (Week Two)

Prentice Whitlow

Imogen Pickles, Project Coordinator

Alice Shepherdson

Melody Walker, Ugo Massabó, Creative Sandpit Organisers

Marie Astrid Mence

INDEX Introduction 1. Organisational Impact Analysis 2. Perception Study 3. Evaluation of Main Activity (Two-week Intensive) 4. Summary of Feedback from the Creative Sandpits 5. Conclusion 6. Appendices


Introduction Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015 has been a long standing ambition of Artistic Director, Sharon Watson. Sharon’s past participation in the Creative Dance Trust’s course for choreographers and composers, directed by Robert Cohan and Nigel Osbourne has been a driving force behind her vision to practice, promote and encourage collaborative learning and ways of working between artists of different disciplines, particularly choreographers and composers. The Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015 is a pilot project delivered by Phoenix Dance Theatre which focused on the creative process of research and experimentation in the interdisciplinary collaboration of dance choreography and music composition. An initial two-week intensive which took place on July 6 – July 17, 2015 launched the Choreographers and Composers Lab by bringing together four choreographers to collaborate with four composers and then symbiotically, work with 12 professional dancers and 4 musicians to realise the seed of a collaborative piece. The aim of the Lab was to allow participants to experience the joys and manage the pitfalls of collaboration and develop skills in partnership working that would enhance their future career prospects. Phoenix’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson was the Choreographic Lead for the project, and internationally renowned composer, Ken Hesketh assumed the role of Musical Director. A number of established choreographers and composers with a wide range of artistic styles and experiences were invited to run masterclasses and set exercises with the participants. The intensive culminated in an informal sharing of all the works in progress. Choreographers and composers were able to have dialogue with an invited audience from the creative arts and associated sectors about their respective pieces. Building on the momentum of the two-week intensive, Phoenix aims to hold a set of ‘creative sandpits’ for the choreographers, composers, dancers and musicians. The Creative Sandpits served as intensive discussion forums where free thinking and indepth discussions were encouraged and facilitated to uncover and develop innovative ideas, and those involved had the opportunity to share knowledge and challenge perspectives. The ‘sandpits’ focussed on providing on-going professional support and artistic development opportunities for the participants, and further input into the participants’ collaboration and creative processes. This type of creative thinking and discussion session allowed those involved to enrich their perspectives on the subjects discussed, whilst increasing their ability


to understand and appreciate an issue from several points of view and realise clearly their artistic ambitions. Phoenix Dance Theatre, with a history of successful collaborations and working with artists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, developed and delivered its first Choreographers and Composers Lab to support training and talent development within the arts sector - a valuable element of the company’s strategic objectives. As an organisation keen to attract and retain talent in the North of the country, Phoenix hopes the Lab has helped to build new artistic synergies, impacted positively on the organisation as a whole and contributed to the rich artistic ecology of the region.


1. Organisational Impact Analysis This assessment and analysis examined the types of impacts that the Choreographers and Composers Lab (CC Lab) will have on Phoenix Dance Theatre as an organisation. It looked at how these factors could affect the success of the implementation of the CC Lab and attempts to anticipate and address the concerns of those who would have been impacted by the project. It hopefully made Phoenix better prepared to deal with them. The Choreographers and Composers Lab was designed to focus on the creative process and provide an opportunity for creation to take place through collaboration. The aim was to provide the choreographers and composers with a toolkit that would enable them to develop meaningful ways of collaborating and to develop a shared language and a common understanding of reciprocity and co-creation. There was no focus on the creation of finished works, which intended to relieve the pressure on participants to present a finished piece at the end. The participating artists were encouraged to think about creation in different and more challenging ways. The Lab was conceived as an opportunity to open up other styles of collaboration by bringing together a diversity of participants. This would enable Phoenix’s artistic team to broaden how it engages with artists and think about the art and practice of collaboration. The general perception was that Phoenix’s work would be broadened by this opportunity. It provided the organisation with the opportunity to develop and spot new talent with the potential for commissioning new works. Below are the responses to a set of questions posed by the Esmee Fairburn Foundation that guided the organisational assessment. Some of the questions were answered prior to the delivery of the main activities of CC Lab in July 2015 and onwards and gives that sense of looking forward instead of retrospection and some were answered during the delivery of the intensive. A. Managing participants expectations within the boundaries of the offer of support Phoenix is aware that the main limitation is the duration of the course. However, this is managed by signposting the participants to other opportunities and exchanges within the sector. Throughout the Lab and for 6-7 months after, participants have controlled access to the Artistic and Musical Directors for consultation, questions and advice. A social media network has been set up by the participants on Facebook. The participants have been using it to post feedback and share information. Phoenix will also use this forum to post opportunities and items of interests that can only develop the participants’ knowledge and practice of collaborating. Following the two-week intensive Lab, choreographers and composers will be invited back for follow up ‘creative sandpits’, where they will be encouraged to discuss how the course has assisted and impacted on their creative perspectives and processes. Phoenix is connected to a wide range of key professional artists and academics across the sector, who have been invited to join these sessions to help stimulate and sustain the debate. The focus of the sessions has been to provide on-going professional support and development


opportunities for participants, and to enable us to measure the impact of the platform on their development, whilst also encouraging them to think about their future career development. B. Anticipating obstacles and overcoming these barriers The main obstacle identified is affordability. It is important that the artists can afford to take the time out of their work or study schedule to pursue this course. Offering the bursary is one way of mitigating this problem. Research and development is a vital element in the growth of a successful artist, but often the challenges of making a living can be a barrier to taking time out to reflect and experiment. All participants received a bursary to cover living costs; ergo, this made the course accessible to even the most financially challenged practitioner who would otherwise be unable to take two weeks out of their working life. C. The role and impact of commissioning and paying artists The Choreographers and Composers Lab does not offer payment to the participants, just bursaries. The bursaries widen access and participation from a broader field of potential participants in order to ensure that the focus is on talent rather than economic advantage. D. The importance of the link between Phoenix Dance Theatre's main programmes and the CC Lab Phoenix has a strong track record in working across disciplines having worked closely with a diverse range of musicians and composers throughout our history. The signature piece of our 2013 mixed programme, “Repetition of Change”, choreographed by our Artistic Director, Sharon Watson was created in collaboration with composer Kenneth Hesketh and the contemporary music ensemble Psappha that toured with the piece. The new musical composition was funded by the Drummond Fund. Both our Artistic Director and Kenneth Hesketh found the collaborative process enhanced and expanded their understanding of the creative process of an alternative discipline, which allowed them to involve and enhance these ideas within their artistic practice. The visioning of the organisation is to embed newly composed music is in our choreography and encompass live music in favour of pre-recorded elements in the presentation of our dance programme. The aim is to eventually produce one of the creative partnerships that has emerged from the Lab. This is an extension of Phoenix’s commitment to talent development. Talent development is at the root of Phoenix’s identity. Phoenix’s main company, its Youth Academy and Saturday School programme have focussed on dancer development. The Lab therefore extends this remit to include composers and musicians and explores ways of working that enhance choreographic and dancer development.


E. The CC Lab and its potential impact across the sector Although choreographic development initiatives do exist across the UK, they are rarely found at this level outside of London and even then are generally focused on choreography with musical development and the collaborative practice of both disciplines, secondary to the process. While similar programmes have been around in previous years, and there is currently a focus on short lived one off series of workshops that, whilst valuable, offer no follow up or feedback beyond the residency. And significantly, there are not many of these opportunities outside London. Phoenix Dance Theatre is not only building on the historical value of similar processes that have preceded its Lab, but it is also establishing a programme outside London that can make a significant contribution to the arts development in the North of England. Additionally, the cost of running a programme like this outside of London is substantially cheaper and can make it a more attractive option for participants and funders. More can be achieved when the cost of delivery is lower in another region. The Lab has the potential to raise the profile and visibility of the participating emerging artists and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s initiative to improve standards and collaborations in artistic practice for emerging choreographers and composers. F. Support and Progression Routes for CC Lab Participants The Choreographers and Composers Lab will give participants the opportunity to meet and network with key people and organisations in the arts sector, allowing them to establish longer term relationships alongside the network of their peers that will be embedded throughout the platform. The choreographers and composers will be able to draw upon the knowledge of the Artistic and Musical Director at any time right up to the final sandpit. Phoenix has already linked all participants via a social network group on Facebook as one way of keeping touch and sharing information and monitoring the progression routes of participants. Longer term plans to make the Lab into a biennial event can open up opportunities for participants of this first Lab to return and share their experiences as guest speakers during the two-week intensive, and in sandpit discussions. Phoenix is also examining ways in which it can support one or more pairs of collaborating artists to develop their work to a professional standard, with the possibility of being commissioned by Phoenix to create a work for one or more of its public platforms. G. Flexible and Responsive or Structures: What’s the Right Model for a CC Lab The Choreographers and Composers Lab requires a basic formal structure that is designed around the goals and objectives of the Lab. A schedule helps with focus, navigation and guidance - participants know where they need to be, details of the sessions they will be attending and what is expected of them. Within this structure, there is a flexibility to respond to the creative needs of the participants. The process of open questions and regular feedback has helped to shape the Lab based on the participants’ experiences and expectations. In Week 1 of the Lab, having a defined structure was functionally expedient – all participants had access to the same sessions/courses and acquired the same knowledge and skills. Some participants queried whether it was necessary for them to attend all the sessions and they were encouraged to do so. For example, they were able to understand how practitioners from different disciplines were able to understand each other’s’ craft and language in Peter Weigold’s session on improvisation which had all participants playing an instrument and working quite effectively as a musical ensemble.


In Week 2, the participants were not given set tasks. They had a set timetable, but they were left to create in their designated teams. For example, a composer could leave their team and go to compose/think in a separate space and then re-join the group or they could stay with the group for the creation process. At the beginning of this week, the participants were given a chance to organise themselves and this led to a moment of chaos. This proved that a level of organisation and scheduling is key as the participants are not necessarily in a space where they can confidently and easily juggle their own administrative logistics with the creative demands of the Lab. The structure of Lab was designed to give participants the opportunity to extend their work and challenge their working methods with other disciplines within a supportive and structured environment. The pairing of composers and choreographers in this way and encourage each artist to experiment in ways impossible in a solitary context. It also illustrated that devising new works with new partners can provide a sense of freedom and adventure that spills over into one’s own discipline. Both parties have real influence on each other’s creativity. H. Resources needed for running a successful Lab In order to run a successful Choreographers and Composers Lab, Phoenix Dance Theatre needs to commence the process with a set of formal project planning sessions with the Artistic Director, the Musical Director and the project coordinator. One or more of these sessions need to include a discussion with the external evaluator about the evaluation process. Personnel The personnel needed for the project are as follows: • Artistic Director who is an expert in dance choreography to manage, direct and shape the vision of the Lab and takes the artistic lead on the project. The Artistic Director shortlists, interviews and selects the choreographers and dancers for the Lab. Throughout the Lab, the AD is on hand to offer guidance and mentor participants. •

Musical Director who is an expert in music composition to manage, direct and shape the vision of the Lab and takes the musical lead on the project. The Musical Director shortlists, interviews and selects the composers and musicians for the Lab. Throughout the Lab, the MD is on hand to offer guidance and mentor participants.

Project Coordinator/Manager to manage/coordinate the organisation and logistics of Lab, overseeing call out documents, applications, shortlisting, marketing, contracts, travel bookings, answering queries etc. The project coordinator is the main contact for all externals, guest speakers and participants, to be present throughout the Lab to help with on site requests and maintain logistical control over the process. Strong project management skills are needed for this project which include the ability to plan in advance and to manage the exigencies of project delivery.

Assistant to the Directors to provide administrative, artistic and logistical support to the Lab directors and the participants.


Technical Manager to set up the studios, accommodate technical requests and filming of activities. This role is critical as the composers and musicians’ requirements are quite high and sometimes complicated. The composers and musicians require cables, converters, additional equipment and help to set up equipment and instruments in the studio and connecting them to the studio equipment. This process is sometimes technically complex, therefore, this technical staff needs to be on site, so they are easily accessible and ready to assist.

External Evaluator is to be contracted to provide a balanced and impartial evaluation of the Lab and creative sandpits. Guest speakers with expertise in dance choreography, music and cross arts collaborations who can provide various lessons, insights, instructions and demonstrations for the participants to develop their understanding of the collaboration process.

Additional personnel are sometimes needed which can be drawn from Phoenix’s staff

Space To accommodate the four Choreographers, four Composers and their teams of dancers and musicians, Phoenix needs to have all four studios available at the NBT/Phoenix building at 2 St. Cecilia Street available all day for the two whole weeks. Not all the studios in the NBT/Phoenix building were available for the two weeks, so we had to seek studio space elsewhere, which was costly and logistically time consuming. We needed to ensure that the hired studio spaces were fit for purpose; for example, are the floors suitable, do we need to lay a dance floor, are the same audio equipment in those locations? Additional studio space off-base meant an extra cost of transporting the participants from one location to the next and the logistics of sign-in sheets for guests at these other locations was encumbering. Having all the studios in one place is more convenient and it saves time. Additional space for a break out room and to store musical instruments were needed and the latter needed to be a secure space as the instruments were expensive. A space specifically for the musicians was also very useful and this was at the Leeds College of Music. This space gave the musicians and composers an environment that provided escape, silence and familiarity. It was a space that was conducive to composing, practising and experimenting compared to the dance heavy environment at Phoenix’s base. Originally the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre was booked to accommodate the final Sharing at the end of the Lab, this was cancelled to reduce costs, but also as it contradicted the casual and safe space for sharing and presenting an unfinished work. As such, the end of day sharings and the final Studio Sharing took place in Phoenix’s studio 6 where the participants have been working for the duration of the Lab. This reduced the level of 8

technical support that would have been required for a theatre space and also provided a more intimate space to share and discuss the participants’ work. Resources The hiring of musical instruments was key. Phoenix would not have been able to accommodate all the requests of the composers if we did not have instrument hire availed to us. Musical equipment and accessories such as microphones, music stands, extra peddles, various cables and wires were also equally necessary. Even though the musicians and composers brought their own kits, we needed to provide accessories that could convert/match their kit to our sound systems. The Lab required set resources for the sharings such as carpet, chairs and extra tables. Guest speakers required equipment to be able to present ideas such as projectors, white boards, laptops, flip charts, etc. Phoenix filmed and photographed aspects of the Lab. These were made accessible to participants via Dropbox. The participants needed administrative support – access to stationery, printing, photocopying, scanning, Wi-Fi, markers, highlighters and more. I. An Assessment of Future Funding Needs The long-term ambition is that the Choreographers and Composers Lab becomes a biannual event that is a regularly anticipated part of the music and dance calendar across the sector. Phoenix will outline ways in which to ensure the long-term viability of the Choreographers and Composers Lab. The plan is to seek ongoing funds to ensure the sustainability and further development of this programme. This could include bringing on a partnership organisation such as Dance UK. Principally, Phoenix Dance Theatre would like to expand the Lab to offer a public platform to showcase the work of some of the participants in order to make the process more meaningful for them. The proposal is that at the end of the Lab, Phoenix would select one or more pairs of artists to work with over a period of time to develop their work for a small platform. The development process can be in 2 or 3 stages where the artists showcase their work at a small public platform and the work is developed for Phoenix@Home which is an annual platform staged at our home venue and features a mixed bill of work to a small local audience for a 3-4 night run. The work can then finally progress to being commissioned for Phoenix’s main mixed programme which premieres at the West Yorkshire Playhouse each year and tours across the UK for 10 months and then finally presented at the Royal Opera House at the end of the year. This would be a major incentive for participants and can impact on the quality of work they seek to explore and create. This however must not have a detrimental impact on one of the core values of the Lab which is to provide a safe environment where participants can create and experiment freely. This would be the second part of the development offer for the participants and would happen 9

within the intervening year before the next Lab. This would be a good opportunity for a funder like EsmĂŠe Fairbairn to take the lead on supporting the continued development and expansion of a northern based Choreographers and Composers Lab. Prepared by Sharon Watson Artistic Director July 2015

Melody Walker Development Coordinator


2. Perception Study Findings Two months prior to the hosting of the Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Choreographers and Composers Lab, our external evaluator, Theresa Beattie conducted a perception study with the 24 participants selected to be a part of the process. The main of the perception study was to assist participants in identifying and articulating their expectations of the CC Lab. Why are they participating? What are their specific needs? What do they hope to learn about artistic collaborations and partnerships? How can these be met? The findings of the perception study informed the wider evaluation carried out at the end of the two-week intensive programme and aim to shape the focus of the follow up creative sandpits.

The Summary Composers & choreographers •

The composers articulate the impact they anticipate from the Lab and what they expect to learn and how they plan to apply the learning in more specific ways – perhaps because are more experienced or reflecting different education/training experiences?

The choreographers are interested in developing collaborative skills and acquiring/refining their ability to make and in extending their movement vocabulary. They focus comparatively little on the specifics of collaboration with composers and musicians. The composers outline potential specific benefits of collaborating with choreographers and dancers and articulate what they are curious about from practicalities (how dancers count) to philosophical questions regarding music and dance collaboration

The choreographers focus more on personal than sector development while the composers demonstrate a broader perspective including how the activity might benefit their sector. Two composers have collaborations with choreographers later this year where they plan to apply learning from the Lab.

The collaborative focus of the lab and the opportunity to refine and develop skills necessary to work with artists from different disciplines was perceived as both important and rare

The choreographers are seeking to increase their confidence as makers and to take the opportunity to experiment with different ways of working, to play and to enjoy the freedom a lab environment can afford

Musicians & dancers •

Musicians, dancers and composers see the lab as impacting on their employability through developing relevant and applicable collaborative skills


One of the musicians is also a composer and one of the dancers an aspirant choreographer and they are seeking an experience which will allow them to learn about these roles as well as deepen understanding of their own

All participants •

Respondents hope to break out of their comfort zone, to be inspired and taken in fresh directions

The more experienced the participant the more specific their expectations, greater their ambition to gain inspiration from the lab and to apply their learning in ways that could have lasting impact in their sector, for example ‘influencing music for dance for the future’

Unsurprisingly, the more experienced participants were better able to articulate potential impact of the Lab for their sector(s) as well as themselves

Increased employability through enhanced collaborative and interpretative skills, gaining new perspectives including greater understanding of collaboration was seen as a benefit as was the potential to find collaborators and developing new UK and international contacts. Taking part in the Lab was seen as increasing employability CHECK

Structure and bursary •

There was consensus that a robust structure, within which a flexible and responsive approach was taken by the Directors would work best - described as ‘like a breathable structure.’

Respondents who had attended labs or similar immersive activities before (all the composers, no choreographers, two dancers and three musicians) recognised the Lab would be pressurised at times and while welcoming this, highlighted the wish to work with many different combinations of colleagues – this was equated with ‘fairness’

Availability of the bursary directly affected the decision of 7 artists to apply, was one of a number of deciding factors for 5 artists and did not affect the decision of 2 artists (The participant from Phoenix was not entitled to a bursary)

The bursary was seen to afford value and prestige to an invitation to participate and to reflect Phoenix valuing the work and contribution of participants

By Theresa Beattie External Evaluator June 2015


3. Evaluation of Main Activity (Two-week Intensive) Summary of Main Achievements The Lab took place 06-17 July 2015 at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s home in Leeds and was conceived and led by the organisation’s Artistic Director, choreographer Sharon Watson and composer Ken Hesketh (Musical Director.) The co-directors took 18 months to develop the Lab model (See The Lab Welcome Pack.) This included consulting organisations e.g. ROH which had undertaken similar initiatives and observing relevant projects to identify and apply learning. Extensive distribution of information and guidance on the project took place via UK and international channels over two months, targeting early career composers, choreographers, musicians and dancers. Sector leaders also disseminated details. This attracted strong demand from composers, choreographers and dancers. The comparatively low response from musicians reflects the requirement that they be multi-taskers, versed in sight-reading and improvisation skills and able to work at speed. Also, musicians of this calibre would be accustomed to taking supplementary work rather than committing to one project. Composers 107 applications* 34 women, 73 men 34 based in England (of which 3 in Yorkshire) 66 based in other UK countries and abroad

Choreographers 121 applications* 79 women, 42 men 49 based in England (of which 9 in Yorkshire) 69 based in other UK countries and abroad

Musicians 8 applications 2 women, 6 men 6 based in England (of which 3 in Yorkshire)

Dancers 74 applications 61 women, 13 men 27 based in England (of which 8 in Yorkshire) 69 based in other UK countries and abroad

2 based in other UK countries and abroad * some applicants did not include location

Applicants were required to make their case in writing and to supply supporting video/sound files. 8 composers and 8 choreographers were selected for interview by the Directors: ‘I was seeking composers creating music expressive of its time and which hadn’t been brought to dance before. When shortlisting I Googled and checked “soundcloud” to find greater depth as the material they submitted reflected some sort of assumption about music for dance, as a backdrop and subservient to, rather than an equal partner with dance.’ Ken Hesketh


‘The interviews were very important in discerning how artists would react in a team and their ability to change.’ Sharon Watson 4 choreographers, 4 composers, 4 musicians and 12 dancers (including 8 Phoenix dancers) were selected. Though all were at an early career stage, they were at different stages of development and working across a wide range of choreographic and compositional genres and styles. 3 musicians were also composers and at least 3 dancers were also choreographers. The proportion of female choreographers and composers was atypical while the wide geographical spread of participants reflects the level of mobility characteristic of these sectors. Composers 3 women, I man Based Cardiff, London (2), Glasgow, Musicians 2 women, 2 men Based Leeds, Florida USA, Stockholm and London

Choreographers 3 women, 1 man Based Leeds, London, London/Berlin and Vienna Dancers 6 women, 6 men Based Leeds (10), London, Italy

Evaluation This was carried out by consultant Theresa Beattie. An email perception study in April 2015 captured participant’s expectations of the Lab, and the impact they anticipated it could have on their practice and on the wider sector. Questions in the survey were drawn from the planned outcomes for the Lab as identified in Phoenix’s application to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) and the findings informed design of the Lab model, in particular the balance between activity led by guest speakers and independent working. A second survey on the final day of the Lab assessed the extent to which participant’s expectations (as expressed in their responses to survey one) had been realised, and gathered individual views. Response rates for both surveys were 83% and respondents scored their experience highly However, choreographers and dancers consistently found fewer statements and questions relevant than the composers and musicians. (Responses to survey one formed the basis for questions in survey two; as slightly m ore composers and musicians replied to survey one they may therefore have been more likely to find the questions in survey two relevant.) As well as documenting the Lab and participants’ response, this report aims to provide Phoenix with narrative and ideas to inform the evolution of its artist development strategy overall and in relation to Labs. Progress has been mapped against the three key outcomes and additional questions related to talent development provided by EFF. Findings from the evaluation of followup Sandpits in autumn and spring 15/16 will be added to a final report in April 2016.


1. The first key outcome Phoenix aimed to achieve was: Artists will have increased skills and greater confidence in cross- art form collaborative practice Participants will have increased their knowledge and skills in cross art form working, allowing them to have a deeper understanding of collaboration, and the long term effects of this on their own work and creative practice. Results from the second survey were encouraging. 20/20 participants reported ‘lasting impact on my practice’ and that they ‘had grown and developed as an artist’ as a result of the Lab. 18/20 felt the experience had ‘enhanced my confidence to experiment with different ways of working’ and that they had ‘met collaborators I want to work with in future.’ 19/20 reported the Lab ‘gave me the confidence to collaborate.’ ‘The Lab took me out of my comfort zone, and gave me more confidence and helped me have a better understanding how to work in collaboration, develop my practice and find new ways of exploring and generating movements and identify ways that work best for me. Working at such a fast pace forced me out of my boundaries, made me trust my instincts and identify where I put the priority in my practice.’ Chor 4 This confidence was built in part through skills development, for example 19/20 respondents reported they had learnt ‘how to communicate more effectively in music and dance processes and 17/20 reported they had learnt ‘practical aspects of working effectively with composers, dancers, choreographers and musicians.’ 10/12 dancers and musicians said they had gained knowledge of ‘how to contribute effectively to a creative process’ and 17/20 participants reported ‘enhanced skills in giving and receiving feedback and discussing process.’ 15/20 found discussions stimulating although some dancers and musicians would like to have discussed issues in greater depth. ‘I learnt new ways of creating and stimulating material that can effectively contribute to the choreographer’s process as well as my own. This was my first experience of live collaboration between choreographers and composers, I now have an understanding of the process and the skills needed to make it successful.’ Dan 8 ‘I feel the Lab has given me substantial insight into the choreographer/composer process and feel an increased confidence to engage in that dialogue.’ Comp 3 ‘I really enjoyed the structure of the Lab which respected totally the needs of dancers and by this way I could give myself 100%.’ Dan 5 The co-directors observed a difference in ability to articulate their process and creative work - composers were more fluent and accustomed to doing so than choreographers; they attributed this partly to differences in education and training between the art-forms, particularly teaching of background and context. Ken Hesketh observed that specialist music students regularly have to present an academic articulation of their thoughts from as wide an artistic point of view as possible, while Sharon Watson believes that in the dance sector ‘we are still addressing assumptions of the dancer not being an articulate body and unable to vocalise and build conversation in a studio setting.’


The guest speakers contributed significantly to developing participants’ skills, confidence and knowledge. 17/20 participants found the sessions ‘inspiring and relevant to my practice.’ Two days of workshops led by choreographer Robert Cohan were identified as a highlight by 11/20 participants, including all the choreographers. Ken Hesketh described Cohan as ‘inspiring, the personification of everybody he (Cohan) has worked with.’ ‘Robert Cohan was so helpful by the tools he gave us and so inspiring. It might come from his experience. But I could "drink" every single word he said (from anecdotes to creations tools) As a young dancer I think "transmission" does work to increase our skills/creativity. I learn so much from this.’ Dan 4 The following advice from Cohan led participants to review and develop the Lab protocol, in addition several highlighted the impact he had on their approach to the rest of the Lab: ‘Don’t be shy about it, do it! Dance – we see a map of your choices Without a sense of form you don’t know how to edit As mammals we need patterns All experiences are a mark in the shell. Like rings on a tree Discipline yourself to know the shape’ The structure, energy and sense of play composer and cellist Zoë Martlew bought to her one day workshop led to valuable learning by 3 composers, 2 choreographers and 3 musicians: ‘I’m really grateful for Zoë Martlew’s inspiration and encouragement to completely break out of all boundaries and fearlessly reinvent my cello playing!!!’ Comp 1 ‘Zoë Martlew was fantastic because she brought a very fresh perspective on collaboration from a musician/comedian point of view. I loved that she planned several tasks for the day and that she was very precise with what she wanted, this forced me to be much more creative!’ Chor 2 Guest speakers Zoë Martlew and Peter Wiegold, Professor and Head of Music Research at Brunel University, reflected on their experiences of teaching the group as follows: ‘It was a TOTAL joy, not to mention great honour to work with such a talented and highly skilled lot with such fantastically open and positive attitudes. Huge congrats on a truly exceptional project. I’d love to be on the course myself!’ Zoë Martlew ‘I so enjoyed the day, to see ideas from my work in pictures [from the session] and all the issues exposed was very rewarding. From the formality of the first piece to the energy of the last, it was terrific.’ Peter Wiegold While it is too early to capture the long-term effect of the Lab on the participant’s work and creative practice, the great majority said they intend to continue to collaborate. 18/20,


including all choreographers and composers have either ‘planned future collaboration with people met on the Lab or plan to do so.’ However comparatively few 13/20 felt taking part would ‘help gain new collaborative opportunities’ – perhaps because they were aware of limiting factors including cost and the relative scarcity of collaborative opportunities. Conversely, three choreographers and three composers said taking part had ‘increased their employability’ citing increased confidence in how to approach collaboration and acquisition of relevant skills, knowledge and contacts. Taking part impacted how some participants saw their own role in the sector and several plan to share their experience in order to encourage more collaborative opportunities: ‘I will proudly advertise the residency and be an advocate for future possibilities like these. I am an ADAD Trailblazer, Dance UK member who will soon find out about my experiences during these last 2 weeks and how the sector needs these opportunities for new voices, the longevity of the arts. Investments like the Phoenix Lab are vital to the industry.’ Chor 3 ‘I will continue to encourage and echo the importance of direct collaboration between composers and choreographers, musicians and dancers. To keep pushing the growth of new artistic visions/ explorations to future generations.’ Dan 7 2. The second key outcome Phoenix aimed to achieve was: A new professional network is established for emerging artists interested in collaborating The platform and subsequent sandpits will help to establish a network of emerging artists, who will continue to work together after the project has finished and beyond, encouraging long term partnerships and opportunities through sharing and exchanging experiences. As illustrated by outcome 1, the majority of participants plan to continue to collaborate. They have set up a Facebook group independently of Phoenix but open to staff who can post information. This ongoing communication tool and repository already includes film footage from the Lab, booklists and collaborative work opportunities. Two sandpits in autumn and spring, which the co-directors will curate in response to the post-Lab learning needs of participants, will help to maintain momentum and provide a short-term destination for collaborative activity. Though embryonic, indications are positive for the group to grow into an autonomous network. To encourage this Sharon Watson has initiated a dialogue with Dance UK to identify opportunities to which the participants can be signposted, for example mentoring schemes. She has also explored how Dance UK might add value to the follow up sandpits, for example through integrating aspects of the Agile Fundraising and Philanthropy course they run for artists. This strategic approach will help connect participants with their wider community and allow Phoenix to focus necessarily limited follow-up capacity on the sandpits and the codirectors providing individual support. The spheres of influence of the choreographers and composers (for example, as associates or affiliates linked to venues and organisations and through teaching including in Higher Education) and the dancers and musicians as working professionals, position the group


strongly to disseminate learning to benefit the wider music and dance sectors. They are equipped as role models to demonstrate good collaborative practice. ‘The feeling you get from working so intensely with so many interesting artists and the connections you find, as well as some talks/conversation that we had after the actual lab hours have opened my mind and are going to stay with me in my practice in the future. There’s no way back.’ Chor 4 Several participants either have music and dance collaborative projects confirmed where they will apply learning from the Lab or plan to do so: ‘I already have a couple of creative projects in the pipeline, collaborating with dancers and choreographers …thanks to the Lab, I feel ready to take on this kind of work!’ Comp 1 ‘I will continue to work with dance, and I am interested in joining or forming a group specifically for working with small dance companies.’ Mus 1 Respondents were optimistic about the impact the Lab could have in their respective sectors: all the composers and 3 choreographers thought it would ‘inspire the creation of more Labs and similar opportunities’ and be ‘a catalyst for more dialogue between composers and choreographers.’ 19/20 thought the Lab would ‘encourage dialogue about music and dance collaboration’ while 17/20 thought it likely the Lab would ‘encourage more commissioning of music for contemporary dance.’ A number reflected on the importance of continued opportunities for artists to be exposed to a wide-range of contemporary music and dance, for example: ‘We desperately need to have choreographers and dancers listen, know, study and understand the ‘real’ (in a European sense) contemporary music and to extend the discussion between contemporary composers and choreographers sharing the same poetical needs.’ Comp 2 And on the particular value to choreographers and dancers of collaborative working: ‘I hope more funding will be bought to these artistic collaborations and relationships, rather than relying on pre-recorded and pre written scores. These direct collaborations not only change the way choreographers and composers create, but also dancers and musicians who in turn have a better understanding of what has been created, having a larger artistic input as well as a wider appreciation to both areas of art.’ Dan 7

3. The third key outcome Phoenix aimed to achieve was: Establishment of a robust model for this type of artist development project Continuous monitoring and evaluation of this project will ensure that we are able to create a model that can be used as an example of best practice for the sector, which will continue to develop as the project evolves. 18

Respondents found the project model fit for purpose and relevant to their needs as professionals. 18/20 said goals were ‘clear from the outset,’ and found the schedule ‘flexible with the Directors responding to the evolving needs of participants by making changes.’ The facilitation was found to be well judged: ‘The Lab was facilitated in a very positive way – the balance between support/availability/help and encouraging autonomy (individual/group), was superbly negotiated.’ Comp 3 The decision the co-directors took to allocate dancers and musicians for tasks, rather than inviting the choreographers and composers to ‘bid’ as is frequently the case on similar projects, worked well. While it was not possible for each participant to work with everybody else, as they had hoped, the responses indicate that there was sufficient mixing for the artists to gain understanding of each other’s work. This was helped by the opening session where each participant briefly presented their work. Participants were exposed to collaboration through a range of tools including: speed dating, sandpits, workshops and talks providing opportunities to experiment in a non-judgemental environment. This enabled everybody to contribute to tasks and workshops – the dancers and musicians were not ‘tools’ for the composers and choreographers: each participant contributed to the collaborative process through their respective role. ‘Working with these new perspectives pushed me to work outside my normal ways and experiment with new approaches without the usual pressures of producing a work for public viewing. It also reinforced the techniques that I was already using and built my confidence with those perspectives, philosophies, and approaches. In terms of networking, it allowed me to work closely with a great number of like-minded people and to establish a solid foundation for future collaboration.’ Mus 4 The co-directors noted that the structure of the first six days had, as they intended set up participants with the skills, knowledge, communication skills, trust, curiosity and energy necessary for the final exercise. They observed at the briefing the day before ‘the participants feel confident and supported by the creative pairings.’ The aim of this longer exercise was for the participants to work autonomously with time to collaboratively develop material for presentation at an informal sharing on the final day. ‘During the first six days the composers have been using musical gestures and objects which were serviceable; the final 3 day task provides the opportunity to develop original material.’ Ken Hesketh ‘The participants have not been given a task, it is up to each creative team to develop their own vision and we’ve aimed to give as much scope and colour to each person as possible. It is up to the creative teams to structure the days themselves.’ Ken Hesketh ‘Now we know who to push and the potential challenges in the final exercise.’ Sharon Watson


The transition from directed tasks to the self-directed, longer final exercise: also marked a change in the roles of the Co-Directors, shifting from leader/giver of information and facilitator of guest speakers to that of an artistic outside eye, providing feedback and dramaturgical support as invited. While all the composers found there was sufficient time for play, experimentation and constructive feedback only 2 choreographers found this to be the case. This may reflect different practices as research and development periods are perhaps more customary for choreographers. Likewise, the dancers and musicians would have preferred more time for play and experimentation.

‘I would add in more time for music, I’d like the same amount of dancers as musicians among the lecturers. Maybe also time for the students to share their own ideas.’ Mus 2 The Lab Protocol (Appendix B), produced by the co-directors drew on US choreographer Liz Lerman’s Critical Response approach to giving and receiving feedback www.lizlerman.com. This was circulated at the start of the Lab, collectively refined by the group after Robert Cohan’s workshops and reissued for the final exercise. Respondents found it helped encourage positive, constructive, rigorous practice and discussion: ‘I think the lab protocol was really deeply and fully thought through and it revealed itself as an inspiring schedule and not a limiting one. A trampoline not a cage.’ Comp 2 ‘The protocol and the way the 1st day was ruled put everybody in the right way of thinking for the rest of the 2 weeks. Putting emphasis on the goal of the experimentation, no judgment and the acceptance of failure to develop made people very open and ready to collaborate, breaking any kind of hierarchy.’ Chor 4 ‘The protocol was an excellent idea to ground everybody in mutual understanding of the fragilities within the process. Sharon circulated it again at the beginning of our final task– just the right moment to be reminded about judgment, objectivity and respect within the collaborative process.’ Comp 3 Participants identified the following additional factors as key to the effectiveness of the model: a. The consistent presence of Sharon and Ken during the Lab and their availability for optional one-to-one sessions with the requirement that participants brought an agenda. Sharon Watson noted the particular value of these sessions near to the start when she and Ken ‘supported people to re-frame their approach to the Lab.’


b. Excellent communication, including consultation about schedule changes and checks for understanding as English was a second language for some participants. c. High quality and proximity of studios and facilities. d. Phoenix’s Rehearsal Director’s role in scheduling and logistics and her ability to anticipate challenges and take preventive action while remaining sensitive to artist’s needs. e. The bursary covering travel and accommodation costs, removed a barrier to applying for some participants: 7 said it directly affected their decision to apply; for 5 it was one of a number of deciding factors and 2 said it did not affect their decision. The bursary was also seen to afford value and prestige to the invitation to participate and to reflect Phoenix valuing participants’ work and contribution: ‘having a bursary made me feel valued, committed and professional.’ (Phoenix Dancers and the choreographer from Phoenix were contracted and not entitled to a bursary) f. The size of the group allowed for a range of configurations and approaches in terms of scale; yet the group was also found to be ‘small enough for networking in the true (not social sense) to take place.’ Additional Feedback A crucial question that can guide Phoenix future delivery is: What has not gone so well? And how would you have done things differently? a. Sharon Watson took the decision to replace a dancer prior to the course. After observing the individual in an audition for Phoenix she became aware of the restrictions they would place on the choreographers, the other dancers and the overall collaborative process. In future dancers will be auditioned. b. While all the musicians reported positively on their experience they were stretched, particularly in the final exercise. Although this was not felt to have affected output in any appreciable way it may be advisable to have more than one percussionist in future. ‘We’re working within the logistical parameters of the number of musicians and instrumentation to give the composers as much colour in the palette as possible – the percussionist is in high demand.’ Ken Hesketh c. The co-directors had to reiterate the boundaries of their support, clarifying what they could offer in one to one sessions and their availability. In week one they felt they ‘took generosity too far.’ d. The participants who did not respond to the second survey had English as a second language; in future assistance could be offered to encourage them to contribute. e. A respondent suggested the Lab be longer in future. However, this would place a significant demand on participant’s time and given the bursary covers costs but not a


fee, a longer duration might make it less likely that artists of the calibre achieved for this Lab would apply. ‘I wish there had been more time for discussion and feedback, and to explore ideas after feedback was given! One suggestion could be that we would also give feedback to each other in the session as opposed to just the speakers giving it. (But this takes time of course) The lab should last 3 weeks.’ Chor 2 Maintaining momentum over a longer Lab would be challenging and several respondents benefitted from the pace: ‘I learned to work fast, learned to let go, especially with improvisation.’ Chor 4 ‘This fast creative process allowed me to explore working in different creative styles, understand what worked, what didn’t and why.’ Dan 7 Context Since the 1990’s when the Composers and Choreographers Exchange ran annually at the Southbank, and more recently the DanceLines Lab for choreographers and composers at ROH, there have been less open application Labs in England for composers, choreographers, dancers and musicians. Combined with relatively few music and dance collaborative opportunities for dance students during their training, this has resulted in artists having limited awareness of the breadth of music and dance practice and lacking confidence in collaboration and knowledge of contacts and networks. The Lab as an initiative open to UK and international applicants offered a fairly unique opportunity; a number of factors made it distinctive: the kudos of association with Phoenix as a company which commissions choreographers and occasionally composers; the artistic and pedagogical reputations of the co-directors and guest speakers; the facilities; bursary and follow-up support from the co-directors and the sandpits. The co-directors highlighted the quality of the participant’s processes and the work in progress created during the Lab and Sharon Watson identified potential links to the main Phoenix programme: ‘The group are at the right level – there’s potential for a Phoenix commission midlong term. They have all come to cement some thinking, not necessarily to change but to layer their understanding.’ Sharon Watson ‘The composers are all post-graduates, so they are used to digging in and getting on’ Ken Hesketh Ken Hesketh observed the quality of the work produced was enhanced by three of the four musicians being composers in their own right; likewise, a number of the dancers were choreographers and able to bring a great deal of immediate artistic input to help the 22

composers and choreographers to produce within the time limits. While much of what was produced was serviceable to the ends of the task at hand and the final sharing was not supposed to be polished or even representative of the creators, the co-directors were heartened both by the participant’s artistic accomplishments and equally importantly, how they cited precedent and context to their work in the discussions and the depth and intellect with which they approached the Lab: ‘Two composers (it seemed to me at least) were able not only to gain a wider definition of 'collaboration' but also found a shorthand to producing music that retained abstractions of their true voice within time available - a very important outcome for those in question …’ Ken Hesketh ‘The standard of the choreographers was encouraging as the individuals were able to look and demonstrate their learning between the disciplines rather than a superficial presentation of past knowledge. The process I believe allowed them freedom to crossreference and compare without restraint. Their ability to look critically at approaches to creativity and devising was demonstrated in the intellectual delivery of the tasks with an analytical understanding. The sharings showed the continuing force with which the ‘performance’ sought to fuel the practice methods they evolved through the process, acknowledging the areas of importance. The choreographers were physically articulate and presented difference.’ Sharon Watson The Lab had impacted on Phoenix artistically. A Phoenix dancer was supported to participate as a choreographer, and eight company dancers benefitted from the Lab as a development opportunity. ‘The Lab accelerated the process of getting the new Phoenix company working as a group. The dancers are at very different stages of development, both the eight who comprise Phoenix including recent joiners and four externals. More established dancers are modelling professional ways of working and supporting less experienced colleagues and thereby building confidence.’ Sharon Watson Phoenix’s partnership with Northern Ballet Theatre (who are based in the same building) was strengthened by the participation of an NBT dancer. ‘This Lab really highlighted collaboration is key in the collaborative process. Taking this knowledge into future situations will enable me to contribute more effectively … I will encourage other artists that taking part in the Lab has a great learning impact– in hope of it happening on a regular basis.’ Dan 2


The Lab was also important in developing local strategic partnerships including a new one with Leeds City College described by Sharon Watson as ‘an exploratory process – they are excited to have professionals working in their building.’ Leeds College of Music, an existing partner saw the Lab as ‘an opportunity to extend in-kind support, providing instruments, studio space and musicians.’

By Theresa Beattie External Evaluator August 2015


4. Summary of Feedback from the Creative Sandpits A. Creative Sandpit - October 2015 (Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015) 1. Demographic of Involvement A total of 13 respondents which completed the questionnaire, which marked approximately 72% of overall participants (18). Just over 45% of respondents were dancers (6), as a direct result of having the Phoenix Dance Theatre company dancers involved in the Choreographers and Composers Lab (CCL) process and accompanying Creative Sandpits. There were 3 composers, 2 choreographers, 1 musician and 1 facilitator involved in the evaluation process.

2. Informative/Usefulness of the Creative Sandpit All participants were in agreement that the Creative Sandpit was both informative and useful. However, the degree to which they agreed with this statement varied, with just over half of those involved (54%) stating that it was very useful and informative. 31% of respondents suggested it was quite informative and useful, with 15% finding it only moderately useful. However, the more reflective statements that accompanied this question were overwhelmingly positive, highlighting that the sessions were interesting, provided ample opportunity to raise questions and chance to reflect upon the process and development during the Choreographers and Composers Lab: “…A fantastic and necessary opportunity to assimilate, discuss the lab and progress since then.” – Comp 1 “…Made me think differently, more deeply and question everything.” – Comp 2 “…Immersive/focussed/safe.” - Other “…It was a good opportunity to share everything together and keep questioning the process of the lab.” – Dan 2


3. Further Learning, Impact upon Practice and New Ways of Thinking Across the board, those involved in the Choreographers and Composers Lab Creative Sandpit believed the opportunity helped to either further their learning, impact upon their practice or provide new ways of thinking. A slightly higher percentage of respondents (54%) ranked that most important to them was that the Creative Sandpit was able to further their knowledge and learning gained during the two-week intensive, compared to impact on practice (46%) and new ways of thinking (46%). Answers given in the space for alternative comments highlighted the importance of bringing the network back together again, providing the potential for future development of work and opportunity for collaborations: “…Just being again in the same space and with everyone brought back the feeling and spark of the intensive lab - reminding me of that creativity and possibility and openness.”- Comp 2 “…Future Collaborations” – Dan 6 “…Articulating some of the questions and issues, reconnecting in person with the group” – Comp 1 4. Application of Learning to Working Practice Perhaps most crucially, it is important to observe whether those involved have been able to apply any of the knowledge gained from the CCL two-week intensive to their working practice as a composer, choreographer, dancer or musician. The answers given were almost equal, with 46% (6 out of 13 respondents) stating that they had been given opportunity to apply learning to their working practice, whereas 54% (7 out of 13 respondents) commented that they had been given no opportunity to do so at this stage. Mainly choreographers and composers indicated that they had the opportunity to apply what they have learnt over the 2-week intensive with 1 musician and 2 Phoenix dancers also saying yes. Their ideas of application of learning differ from one individual to the next. “When I collaborate with dance, I can play the music differently and see the different sight of the piece, be involved in the piece more instead of just being a musician.” – Musician 1 “Haven't had the chance to choreograph but it has changed the way of thinking towards my practice”. – Chor 1 For musicians and dancers, it is their approach to their craft and their understanding of the interconnectivity between the different disciplines. One composer has worked with a dancer for performance at an art Festival and a choreographer identified their increased understanding of collaboration. “…I made a collaboration with dancers for Roath Festival in Cardiff… Improvised (mainly) the music (but it was set over many rehearsals) … moving with my cello, the


piece is called frag(mental). Also, the way I approach my composition practice has changed, it's softer and freer & I'm more able to let go more easily”. – Comp 2 All those who said no were Phoenix dancers which is not surprising, given that they are on contract with the company and have a prescribed way of working. The positive responses to the question demonstrate a certain optimism and readiness for collaborative opportunities. Such opportunities are lacking in the North of England, and Phoenix’s CC Lab is unique in its potential to address this industry weakness, providing a robust and suitable model for this type of artist development project. 5. Lasting Impact upon Practice The majority of those involved strongly believed that the CCL had resulted in a lasting impact on their practice and creative outputs through increased confidence (62%) and skills development (69%). To a lesser extent, the Lab had given chance to develop skills of creating fruitful partnerships (31%) and discussions with potential partners (31%). 6. Choreographers and Composers Response to this question was comprised of 3 composers and 2 choreographers. 80% of the composers and choreographers had been able to maintain contact and sustain creative dialogue with the choreographer or composer that they were paired with. This dialogue manifested itself in different formats, both through formal and informal artistic partnerships: “…I have already submitted applications for residencies with Claire (no success, yet!) and have had dialogue about potential collaboration with [name] and Vanessa” – Comp 1 “…We have had a few email conversations and hope with funding to revisit the work we made” – Comp 2 “…The Lab created contacts that hopefully will last - Although I haven't had the chance to choreograph yet, I know those contacts and collaboration can happen” – Chor 1 “…Have been in touch and written concepts, hoping to get working soon!” – Chor 2 The remaining 20% gave a mixed response, stating they had maintained contact via Facebook but was focussed predominately on their year with Phoenix: “…Yes and No. Yes, by the Facebook we have together. No, because I was focussed on my year with Phoenix. With the sandpit I had the chance to discuss with them again and realised that I need to keep contact with [others]” – Dan 2


7. Dancers and Musicians Within the sample surveyed, there were a total of 6 dancers and 1 musician. 6 responses were given to this question – 1 musician, 4 dancers, 1 composer, which suggests the respondent did not read the question properly. This sample of responses elicited a more conservative response, with an even response as to whether they have been able to work as part of an ensemble or solo with a choreographer or composer since the two-week intensive and whether they found the lessons learnt from the Lab useful in that particular situation. Two respondents stated it had been quite helpful (15%) with the rest being equal across very helpful, moderately helpful, slightly helpful and not at all (8%). However, similarly to question 2, descriptive responses were much more positive – stating the potential for future development: “…Hasn't happened yet, but is under discussion, soon.” – Mus 1 “…Communication and articulation wise.” – Dan 1 “…Larger understanding of composition and delivery of both choreographers and composers” - Dan 6

“…How I can collaborate and learn more about myself” – Dan 4 Another respondent highlighted the importance of the training they are currently receiving at Phoenix Dance Theatre with this answer: “…Yes, with Phoenix Dance Theatre” – Dan 2 8. The CC Lab Facebook Group Responses given suggest that the Facebook group was a much under-utilised resource, with participants commenting they had often rarely used the page to check for new opportunities, share ideas, share information about work/creative opportunities or to communicate with one another. This somewhat correlates with responses to the question ‘has the Facebook Forum been a useful tool’, with just less than a third (31%) suggesting it had been useful, almost half (46% stating it had been somewhat useful, with those remaining commenting that it was not useful at all. Within the space for comment, answers given suggest that it is a potentially effective resource but that it could be better utilised for this particular project: “…I think it could be a good tool - we just need to use it more - remembering it's a connection as well as a resource” – Comp 1 “…It hasn't been very useful in the last month or so but it will be or would be in the future” – Chor 1 28

“…Very useful, I can know more dance area news and what's on” – Mus 1 “…I hope we can exchange more info on there, but it is great for communicating” – Chor 2 A couple of participants were able to see the benefits of the Facebook group in its current format and state, particularly in terms of maintaining a relationship with fellow choreographers, composers, dancers and musicians: “…It's great to stay in touch and keep the community going… I will endeavour to use it more and remember to share stuff”. – Comp 2 “…It is useful for keeping up-to-date with what the rest of the participants are doing”. Dan 1 “…Easy access for sharing and necessary information”. – Dan 6 “…Good to see what people are up to” – Dan 7 There were also comments from those artists who do not have an active digital footprint or use social media: “…Should be more active” – Dan 3 “…I don't really use Facebook” – Dan 2 9. Future Creative Sandpits This question provided a range of responses. However, it is difficult to discern whether the participants that chose not to answer this particular question (39%) were satisfied with the course programme and content or whether they simply did not have anything to say or add. Out of those that did respond, a few commented that they were satisfied with course content and structure: “…For me, everything was new and good for me but I am still thinking as to what I would like” – Dan 2 “…I'm happy” – Dan 4 “…Included please!” – Dan 6 “…I'll think about it and throw ideas in. This has been fantastic today - a very strong reminder of what was shared, what was created and inspirational group” – Comp 1


Others chose to focus specifically on room for improving the amount of time to share participants work and developing the sense of community of choreographers, composers, dancers and musicians further: “…Share everyone's work” – Mus 1 “…Include more sharing of further works if any have been produced by then. Make sure we keep the challenging/exciting conversations” – Chor 2 “…Not sure yet… maybe a quick bit of creating and more thought provoking discussion. Jam session? Had amazing experiences creating frag(mental) work, playing and moving, interaction with the dancers all improvised” – Comp 2 Finally, one participant chose to put forward an alternative idea for inclusion in the next Choreographers and Composers Lab, highlighting an awareness of the outward facing nature of the programme and desire to look to the wider sector for inspiration: “…A field trip!” Dan 7

B. Creative Sandpit - February 2016 (Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015) 1. Demographic of Involvement There were a total of 18 respondents which completed the questionnaire, which marked 100% of overall participants, aside from Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director and Course Leader, Sharon Watson and Rehearsal and Tour Director, Tracy Tinker. Out of these 18 respondents, 9 (50%) were dancers, 4 were choreographers, 4 were composers and 1 was a musician. This accurately reflects the course demographic, which was featured predominately more dancers than musicians. The Creative Sandpit participants were internationally based, including the UK, USA and Austria. The majority were from the UK (89%), a figure vastly boosted by the Phoenix Dance Theatre Company Dancers, who are relatively local to the area. UK cities of origin included capital cities London and Cardiff, alongside others such as Glasgow, Seaford and Warrington. In this particular evaluation form, we were able to discern the level of involvement within this particular Creative Sandpit. Of those surveyed, it was ascertained that 10 artists were involved in general participation (56%), 5 of those involved were presenters (28%) and 3 were there for alternative reasons such as observation (16.68%).

2. Usefulness of Final Creative Sandpit Opinion was divided as to the exact extent that the final Creative Sandpit was useful. Almost half of respondents replied that it was either very useful or quite useful (45% respectively) 30

with two reporting that it was moderately useful (11%). Similarly to the previous Creative Sandpit, which took place in October 2015, descriptive answers which supported this particular question’s answer were positive, with particular focus on progress and reflection towards the end of the programme: “It was great meeting up with my Fellow Lab participants since the Lab last year! Also sharing our individual developments since” - Chor 2 “…Interesting to see everyone’s journey since CC Lab and spark new & keep relationship” – Dan 1 “…Interesting to see the accessibility to musicians, makes me excited for potential future projects” – Dan 2 “…Nice to hear practical results from people. And some new advice” – Dan 3 “…Lovely to reconnect with everyone and made me question myself again a lot and my creative process… very stimulating with new ideas and potential projects discussed” – Comp 1 “…It was so good to meet everyone again and share where we've come in the last 8 months. Very inspiring and motivated to continue collaboration” – Comp 2 “…Allowed for an assessment of the collaborative process and highlighted the necessity of communication and openness amongst artists” – Chor 3 “…The sandpit provided a great opportunity to reflect upon and refresh ideas and concepts from the lab, as well as reconnect with possible collaborative partners” – Mus 1 3. Further Learning, Impact upon Practice and New Ways of Thinking In concordance with answers from the October 2015 Creative Sandpit, respondents were generally in agreement that the final Sandpit was able to further their learning in some shape or form. However, perhaps more interesting is the fact that a higher proportion of participants stated that this particular sandpit was able to provide them with the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking. This time, there was a lot less focus on sharing how the lab had impacted on their practice to date, perhaps due to the timing of this particular sandpit and the reflective sentiment it was able to enact upon those involved. Answers given in the space provided spoke about the need for reconnecting with collaborators and development of artistic work: “…Keeping relationship with other artists” – Dan 1 “…Reconnect with collaborators” – Mus 1 31

“….Ways of talking/writing about work” – Dan 5 “…Need of more development” – Comp 4 “…Requestioning my practice” – Chor 4

4. Presentations 5 participants (28%) were presenters. 56% and 17% of the participants described themselves as general participants or others (guests or observers). The presenters described that their presentations were about the following: “Recent projects where I used knowledge gained at the Lab” - Mus 1 “The presentation was about my collaboration with Roberto Rusconi, whom I met at the Lab. We premiere our work on 12th May at The Place Theatre, 2016” - Chor 2 “About Frag(mental), a piece in which I was the composer and performed as a cellist and 'mover', made in collaboration with a choreographer and dancers and another cellist” Comp1 “Language/vocabulary in creative processes and collaborations” - Chor 1 The presentations indicated how the Lab participants have been thinking about and using the learning gained from the Lab. Participants demonstrate how important it is to increase their access to opportunities for collaboration and sharing their practical experiences of collaboration with others. The artists involved in the Creative Sandpit thought that the presentations given during the day were informative. Half of those involved stated that the presentations were very informative, with a third suggesting they were quite effective and a limited minority commenting that they were only moderately informative. “Interesting to hear how they have used CC Lab” - Dan 1 “Give me a good start …of how to look for funding and music experts to collaborate with” Dan 2 “Really interesting to see what people have been up to … and a lot relevant to collaboration” - Comp 1 “Each gave a variety of ways of collaborating” - Comp 2 “Provided synopsis and updates of what each artist had learnt from the process/how they have continued their collaborative efforts” - Chor 3 “It was interesting to see the level/depth people had created or planned to create and how this affected the results” - Dan 4 “The discussions were more revealing…” - Dan 5 Interesting to see the evolution participants had after the lab - Chor 4 32

An insight to understand in depth how other artists create, bridging the gap in collaboration Dan 7 Not many finished project and not really active/effective collaborations to evaluate - Comp 4

5. Opportunities for Artistic Collaboration It was encouraging to see that quite a number of participants had been offered opportunity for artistic collaboration since taking part in the CCL. This has occurred both as formal and informal partnerships, including some paid commissions. 14 out of 18 participants had some opportunity for collaboration (78%) Some respondents had been able to undertake both formal and informal commission opportunities, with others acknowledging that this was a continual process of crystalizing partnerships and making the informal into the formal: 6 out of 18 participants had what they described as formal collaboration with some form of payment (33%) and 5 out 18 participants had what they describe as informal collaboration (28%) “…Informal partnership, in the process of making it more formal (application)” - Chor 1 “…I had good collaboration (informal partnership)” - Dan 3 “…I have collaborated mixing dance/fashion/photography – informally” - Dan 4 “…Formal and Informal: Eleven House and Arcane Collective of minerals and ventricles (own project)” – Comp 2 “…Lighting collaborations/commissions (paid and free)” – Dan 6 “…Yes frag(mental) was a small commission (but unpaid work in the end). It was very much a collaboration between everyone involved. Now I'm working with nurture creative Dame Theatre on R&D for a piece in which I also play cello, move and compose” – Comp 1 “…I have had opportunities formally through my work and have chosen to work with designers but not composers at the moment” – Chor 3 “…Yes - formal commission/collaboration - in particular one major project with a poet” – Comp 3


6. Contact and Networking Opportunities Asked whether it had been easy to maintain contact and sustain creative dialogue with any of the Lab participants, this question received a variety of responses, across the board. The most popular answer was that it had been somewhat easy (39%), which perhaps comes as a result of the technology and social media that was put in place to aid and facilitate communication. 4 artists suggested that it had been very easy (22%) to keep in contact with one another. The remaining answers were split between difficult (17%), not at all (6%) and those who chose not to respond to this particular question (17%). Many of those who took the time to provide further explanation for their answer were quick to highlight the importance of digital technology in helping to sustain a relationship above and beyond the initial two-week intensive:

“…We only communicate via internet and if we do meet it's only to talk (no working time)” - Chor 1 “…Facebook is good but the people I'd like to work with and I too have had loads of other projects - so busy!” - Comp 1 “…Social media as ease in collaborating, the usual time and money to produce goods is challenging” - Dan 1

All artists appeared to be in agreement that time was a limiting factor in helping to effectively grow the artistic opportunities: “…Time and location” - Chor 4 “…The past few months have been busy. We are in touch to sustain creative work but nothing in the pipeline soon!” - Comp 2 “…After Lab, I have been absorbed in setting up my company - N'da dance working with Roberto on my new work and other projects” - Chor 2 However, there were some partnerships that were able to flourish, despite these possible obstacles to maintaining a relationship: “…Somewhat easy - to develop 3 proposals but challenging to have sustained contact with time and distance. Trying to create opportunities for more in-depth development” - Comp 3


“…Good to meet people again and see what they have done after first CC Lab - I got more interested in collaborating with parties” - Dan 3 7. Residential Format This particular question elicited a mixed response as to the exact level of benefit for a residential lab. However, a lot of participants were extremely positive in terms of thinking about how it might improve the current format, allow for further creative dialogue and a strengthening of relationships amongst all artists involved. “…Very beneficial cause you will be the whole time with other participants and sharing and trying” - Dan 3 “…Very beneficial as the creative process and thinking would be more intense and informal discussion would happen more” - Dan 3 “…It would be extremely beneficial but the CC Lab would have had a completely different atmosphere and I don't think I would change it. It was refreshing to have a weekend alone to reflect” - Comp 2 “…This would be beneficial as we would have access to the studios and develop any ideas that might develop my work further. Also go deeper and further understanding music compositions etc.” - Chor 2 “…I think it could be beneficial for flow and spontaneous development beyond the day but also create a space for more chat, dialogue and other kinds of sharing” - Comp 3 “A residential space would provide artists with a set environment in which to produce work. Many of the artists today were unable to find consistent space to rehearsal. Reform of residential opportunity would provide more freedom and flexibility to create” - Chor 3 “…So much of our process is personal that getting closer would reveal even more” - Dan 5 “…Very. It would provide opportunity for further unofficial/less formal (but still important/valuable) discussions” - Chor 4 Other respondents were a little bit more reluctant to give full support for a revision of CCL structure, with awareness as to the intensity of the experience: “I personally liked 'disconnecting' at the end of the day to clear my head but if so, it would allow more informal discussion/exchange/sharings” - Chor 1 “…Would be very intense!!! Was intense before but in a way that the space/alone time is nice but residential would be a melting pot of creativity and amazing I think…” - Comp 1


8. Continued Support from Phoenix Dance Theatre Overall, the artists involved appeared to welcome the current level of support from Phoenix Dance Theatre and would be keen to see further development of the programme in the future: “…Another CC Lab” - Dan 1 “…Continue to host the Lab!” - Dan 5 “…To make this happen again” - Dan 8 “…Keep investing in opportunities like this one” Dan 9 “It would be excellent to open this opportunity even further to various companies in the future” Others were keen to comment on the network of those that had been involved and the desire to develop it further in order to strengthen and bolster the community: “…Keep inviting more and new people, including presentations from choreographers” - Dan 2 “Continuing support and mentoring friendships… a sharing platform - performance of CC Lab artists in the future… more opportunities for collaborations? Commissions?” - Comp 1 “Continue friendships - collaborations. We can support next CC Lab, have a platform sharing evening that showcases CC Lab artist collaborations in a few years time. Thank you, it's been so good!! Commissions!!” - Comp 2 “…Help keeping contact between the participants and if any project would be possible recall the participants” - Chor 4 “…Would love to further develop this presentation, as well as being given chance to work together again in the studio - mainly staying in touch!” - Chor 1 Finally, there was acknowledgement that the possibility of commissioning work in the future would be an added incentive for participation and the desire to create the highest quality artistic work possible: “…Phoenix could commission some projects” - Comp 4 “…As a sounding body, advice and hopefully in the future get a commission to make a new work for the amazing dancers, working in this historical company would be a dream come true” - Chor 2 36

One participant was keen to stress the enabling effect the bursary had upon their ability to participate fully in the programme thanks to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation: “…Encouraging and providing opportunity for collaborations of any kind. My participation in the Lab and Sandpit would have been impossible without their financial contributions” - Mus 1

Prepared by Melody Walker Development Coordinator March 2016


5. Conclusion The Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015 was a pilot programme which has enabled Phoenix Dance Theatre to extend its reach beyond its home city with participants from the region, home nations and abroad. A timely opportunity as Leeds bids for European Capital of Culture 2023 and with the recent launch of Leeds Dance Partnership, the ambitions high on both agendas are talent development, and artistic import/export and exchanges. In evaluating the current model of the Lab - a model not delivered elsewhere - there were more successes than failures.

These are some of the notable collaborations following participation in the Lab: •

A pair of choreographer and composer from the 2015 pilot Lab, Sandrine Monin and Roberto Rusconi successfully secured a commission from Phoenix to collaborate on their first professional dance work and attendant score, Calyx, which premiered as part of Phoenix’s Mixed Programme 2017 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in February and is now on national tour and will have its international outing in 2019. Roberto has recently secured funding from PRS for Music Foundation to continue experimentation with Sandrine on a new project, Kirke. By virtue of the work undertaken by Sandrine Monin since the Lab, she has received two national awards from One Dance UK, the lead industry body for dance: the Mentoring Programme award, a funded professional development opportunity for mid-career dance artists and the Observership Award, the opportunity to observe her chosen choreographer at work.


Also, Lab participants, choreographer Mbulelo Ndabeni and composer Roberto Rusconi collaborated on the dance work, NaY which was staged at the Place in May 2016 part of the ADAD Trailblazers showcase. The two went on to further explore a new artistic collaboration with Fukiko from Japan on trance and possession using Sonicemotions 3D Sound which was presented as a work in progress at the Lindell Studio, Rambert School.

Choreographer Adrienne Hart created a new dance work, Empathy through a multidisciplinary collaborative process with 5 composers, light, laser and costume designers and dance artists, which Hart describes as a ‘theatrical experience where movement, sound and lighting combine and contribute in equal part’.

Composer Eloise N. Gynn worked with Frag(mental), a collective of dance, music and performance artists to create Hiraeth: I didn’t get to breathe today, a dance performance which was showcased in July 2016 at the West Wharf Gallery, Cardiff.

Equally striking is the interest expressed by the choreographers and composers to continue their participation in future Labs and to maintain contact with Phoenix and the other artists. This interest is key to the new model under consideration which would include past participants as mentors to each current cohort. It augurs well - in the medium to long term – to successfully establish a network of cross-discipline artistic collaborators, centred in the North of England. Way Forward Phoenix Dance Theatre has influenced several generations of artists, choreographers, dancers and teachers. The organisation hopes to take the Choreographers and Composers Lab beyond the pilot, and embed this activity into our core practice over the next 4 years. The vision is to substantially develop the CC Lab to promote a different vision of dance and music collaboration and creative immersion. We are trying to build a visible number of artists from the contemporary dance and music fields that are skilled in creating work collaboratively and at a high standard. Subject to sourcing funding, the Lab will take place every other year, ideally during the summer which is when the Spring Tour ends. In the alternate year, Phoenix will be planning, fundraising and mapping out the Lab for the following year, drawing on the key findings of the project evaluation to inform the way forward. This model of artistic development and partnership can provide a unique opportunity for choreographers and composers with the explicit aim of diversifying the pool of artists and the artistic voices in the creation of new works.


Appendices Appendix A – Organisational Analysis: Funder’s Questions

Appendix B – Lab Protocol


Appendix A Organisational Impact Questions These following questions were posed by the funder Esmée Fairburn Foundation as part of the organisation impact assessment for the Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015. •

What is the relationship between Phoenix Dance Theatre and the participants particularly around managing expectations and the boundaries of the offer of support?

What barriers might potential participants experience in accessing this opportunity? What have Phoenix Dance Theatre put in place to overcome these barriers?

What role does commissioning or paying the artists take and what is the impact of this?

What is the link to Phoenix Dance Theatre's main programmes and is it important that there be one?

What is the potential wider impact across the sector of this programme?

Is it appropriate and/or possible for Phoenix Dance Theatre to continue to support participants after their involvement with the scheme has ended and if not how would Phoenix signpost them to other opportunities or progression routes?

How important is it for the offer to be structured or to be flexible and responsive? What is the impact of these two ways of working?

What Phoenix Dance Theatre needs in order to run the programme successfully e.g. personnel, resources, space.

Will Phoenix Dance Theatre be building into the evaluation an assessment of future funding needs for continuation of the project?


Appendix B – Protocol for Choreographers and Composer Lab 2015 Guest Speakers: Robert Cohan and Ken Hesketh

The Protocol Devised on 7th July 2015 •

How can you stay open to the process?

Try and stay open to the process

It’s a question of ‘not passing judgment’

It’s NOT a case of whether you like it or not!

It’s about construction, shape, form and quality

It’s to better understand the working process. And to stress the importance of the learning process.

Understanding what constitutes failure?

If it fails, find out why?

Question what works

Likes and dislikes are too personal

Good work pays to revisiting a process or concept!

Take advantage of the thinking to any decision made.

Use everything as a learning experience

‘RED’ how do we decide/get to the colour RED?

Be aware of how you process information

Eliminate knee jerk opinions

Respect of each other, respect of time and space

Ask open ended questions. Often they begin with the following – Why, How, What, Describe, Tell me, What did you think


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