"Ways to Inspire and Connect Across Continents through Lockdown"

Written by Sarah Archdeacon, Artistic Director of Corali

In July 2019, Corali jointly led a dance residency in Jakarta with UK based dance company, Impermanence. Alongside Josh and Rosie from Impermanence, the sessions were delivered by two Corali associates, DJ one of the our Associate Artistic Directors, and Carly, one of our regular facilitators. The workshops were attended by dancers from Jakarta based Gigi Art of Dance (GAOD), with whom DJ and Carly formed important creative bonds. 

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 were successful with the bid! This blog shares some of the highlights from that project, a digital exchange between dancers from Corali who have a learning disability, and a group from GAOD, G-Star, whose dancers have Down’s Syndrome.

How was your project overall? 

Because the project was created during lockdown in both London and Jakarta, we wanted to do something that would both inspire and connect our dancers at this difficult time. 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. G-Star would then respond to the toolkit and create their own dance material to share back with Corali. 

We really wanted Corali dancers to be at the forefront of the toolkit, 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. 

We knew the digital toolkit needed to be accessible so that it could communicate across different continents, and empower G-Star dancers. 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 three sections of the toolkit each and performed these to camera (filmed by artist Jon Archdeacon) as a step by step guide.

Gigi 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, which immediately enabled a more inclusive approach to the toolkit, enriching the learning of all dancers involved.

How did the partnership went?

It was always exciting meeting up with Gigi, Founder and Director of GAOD, and Reba, 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. 

Gigi 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, which immediately enabled a more inclusive approach to the toolkit, enriching the learning of all dancers involved. 

Gigi, Reba and team, were gaining lots of experience putting on weekly live virtual events via Instagram, YouTube and Zoom. They were keen to use their experience of these platforms 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. 

Having this clear line of action in place, GOAD then began to engage with the toolkit. It was so exciting to see glimpses on social media of their explorations! Suddenly it was really happening, it was so great to see that Corali’s toolkit was working as a resource, and even more wonderful 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 hear first-hand some anecdotes.  

 

DJ Hassan, a dancer from Corali, pictured while holding a spaghetti spoon in front of his face -- thumb and fore finger of his left hand mimicking the half rounded shape of the spoon head, and his right hand holding the spoon's handle, with his left eye peeking through the spoon hole.
A still from Corali's Digital Dance Toolkit. Image Desc: DJ Hassan, a dancer from Corali, pictured while holding a spaghetti spoon in front of his face -- thumb and fore finger of his left hand mimicking the half rounded shape of the spoon head, and his right hand holding the spoon's handle, with his left eye peeking through the spoon hole. ©

Doc. by Corali Dance Company

Bethan, a dancer from Corali, pictured from her right angle while half crouching and bringing both her hands together at the base of both her palms, forming a V shape.
A still from Corali's Digital Dance Toolkit. Image Desc: Bethan, a dancer from Corali, pictured from her right angle while half crouching and bringing both her hands together at the base of both her palms, forming a V shape.  ©

Doc. by Corali Dance Company

A still from Gigi Art of Dance's film "Re:imagining Home". Image Description: A dancer from Gigi Art of Dance sitting on a dining chair in front of a dining table, with both hands extended upwards on each sides and her head tilted downward.  ©

Doc. by Gigi Art of Dance

What anecdotes from your team or participants can you share? 

Parents of G-Star dancers were such a great support in the project. One of the toolkit video’s showcases finding an object from around your own home. The G-Star parents branched off and created their own game with the other parents – to guess which object they were going to choose! It was great to hear that the toolkit was bringing families and communities together in new and fun ways that we hadn’t anticipated.

What has been the most exciting moment during your project?

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! 

What are you looking forward to now? Any potential new projects / partnerships you'd like to explore in Indonesia (or this region)?

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!

Corali

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 

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.

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