"Ways to Inspire and Connect Across Continents through Lockdown"
Corali and Gigi Art of Dance (GAOD) met at a dance residency in Jakarta in 2019. The residency was led by Corali associates DJ and Carly, and was a partnership with UK dance company, Impermanence. DJ and Carly formed important creative bonds with the dancers from GAOD who took part in the residency, paving the way for future collaboration.
Since that first meeting, Corali and GAOD have kept in touch and when the British Council announced a new grant round, Connections Through Culture (CTC), the two companies came together to plan a project and apply for the funding. We hit upon the idea of creating a Digital Dance Toolkit.
The toolkit would be a resource to demonstrate Corali’s methods of creating dance to share with the dancers from G-Star, a group from GAOD whose dancers have Down’s Syndrome. G-Star would then respond to the toolkit and create their own dance material to share back with Corali.
We were successful with the bid! This blog shares some of the highlights from the project.
The Digital Dance Toolkit
Because the toolkit was created during lockdown in both London and Jakarta, we wanted it to inspire and connect our dancers at this difficult time.
We really wanted Corali dancers to be at the forefront of the resource, showcasing their expertise for the younger dancers of G-Star. DJ’s role as Corali dancer and Associate Artistic Director, and his excellent work connecting with GAOD in 2019, made him the perfect candidate to lead our digital exchange.
Designing the toolkit involved exploring and deconstructing how Corali make dance performances. For this reason the initial planning stages of the resource also involved other key players in our work: Corali dancer Bethan Kendrick, our two other Associate Artistic Directors, Jacobus Flynn and Bridget Chew, and myself, Artistic Director. This created a rewarding moment of company connection during lockdown.
The Corali team met up on Zoom to drill down exactly what is involved in our creative processes - we tested out ideas and made different draft versions of our toolkit.
Finally we were ready! DJ and Bethan took two sections of the toolkit each and performed these to camera (filmed by artist Jon Archdeacon) as a step by step guide.
It was always exciting meeting up with Gianti Giadi, Founder and Director of GAOD, and Reba Aryadi, their Digital Manager. It was so inspiring to hear how they would use the toolkit, and their ideas to share the project outcomes. The meetings were fast paced and exhilarating! Ideas flew around.
Gianti also suggested sharing the toolkit with one of their other regular groups, Dance Lab. Dance Lab is made up of dancers who do not identify as disabled. It was such a smart idea to extend the original project brief. This immediately enabled a more inclusive approach to the project, enriching the learning of all dancers involved.
Gianti, Reba and team, were gaining lots of experience putting on weekly live virtual events via Instagram, YouTube and Zoom. They were keen to use this experience to engage a wide audience for our project. Very quickly we came up with a plan to connect and showcase our project in a series of virtual live events:
- YouTube introduction to the project as part of World Down Syndrome Day, March 2021
- A Instagram improvisation jam as part of World Dance Day, May 2021
- YouTube talk and sharing between GAOD and Corali, June 2021
- YouTube workshop and dance party using the Digital Dance Toolkit led by DJ, and attended by G-Star, Dance Lab, Corali and other international dancers/dance companies, June 2021
Suddenly it was really happening! It was so exciting to see glimpses of G-Star and Dance Lab on social media as they began their creative explorations. It was wonderful to see that Corali’s toolkit was working as a resource, and great to see what GAOD were creating.
At this stage we also met GAOD facilitators, Karina Syahna and Cedric Louise Tanamas, who were delivering toolkit sessions for the dancers on Zoom. It was great to gain insight into the practicalities of working with the resource and to hear first-hand some anecdotes. One of the tutors told us that the parents of G-Star dancers were a great support in delivering the project. They also explained how the parents had branched off and created their own toolkit game! We enjoyed hearing how the project was connecting families in new and unexpected ways.
There were many exciting moments, here are few of my favourite:
- How GAOD extended the ideas of the toolkit, for example adding in their own instructions like performing outside against a wall
- G-Star and Dance Lab’s beautiful films!
- Bethan and DJ’s faces when they watched the GAOD films! They were so happy and proud.
- Both companies, and all the dancers rose to the challenge of the Digital Dance Toolkit exchange! We did it!
- All the virtual live events to showcase the toolkit, and GOAD responses were also exciting.
What’s next for the collaboration?
It would be wonderful to explore further integrated exchanges between Corali and GAOD. We’d also interested explore a collaboration between G-Star and Corali’s youth company, Kick Up, we think there is so much more we can do together!
Get to know the collaborators!
Set up in 1989 Corali makes excellent and exciting performances and film, and it is our ambition that our dancers with a learning disability are recognised for their vital contribution to cultural activities. We partner with high profile venues like Sadler’s Wells and Tate and offer an annual engagement programme.
GIGI Art of Dance (GAOD) is a school dedicated to developing skills in the art of dance. It was established in 2009 as a home to learn, explore, collaborate, and share the performing art of dance. It provides a safe and supportive learning environment and offers over 35 weekly classes.