2019 has been a really wonderful, enriching and bustling year for RCD. For all those supporters of our work, whether that be audiences in the flesh and online, fellow artists, commissioning organisations or partners and our funders, this is a brief and personal reflection on the year so far. It’s my intention that this article conveys my gratitude to you all for you support of RCD’s work, as well as a chance for me to convey my upmost public gratitude for my entire and deeply valued artistic team.
I am very grateful for my collaborators contributions to the two creations that form this performance. Our dialogue and discoveries together have really fuelled our creative process and I’m extremely thankful for their trust and support. Similarly, I see my choreographic role as a co-creator with the dancers I work with. Their trust, empathy and commitment has been hugely felt and I’m very fortunate to have their creative contributions present within the work.
Final Performances: At the end we begin
The opening of the year saw our final performances of At the end we begin in Plymouth, Penzance and Bournemouth. After two and a half years of touring, the weight of the piece finishing was surreal. Tt felt apt to present the work last at PDSW, where the piece’s development started in 2016. At the end we begin was my first full length work and it represents a turning point for me in my creative practice. I’m incredibly grateful to each venue who booked the work, each organisation that supported it and each artist who had faith in me and my first longer work’s vision.
At the end we begin was envisioned to be a work that highlighted and celebrated young people’s voices. With inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, we took Eliot looking back on his creative life with unanswered questions as a source for empowerment as young artists looking forwards. At the end we begin is a work about four individuals going from a state of being lost to a place of finding their voice and I’m proud all we achieved with the work.
New Creation: Still Touch
Following six preliminary performances of research in 2018 for the Royal Opera House’s Month of Sundays Festival, this year saw the full creation of Still Touch. Alongside reuniting both the cast and collaborators of At the end we begin, Still Touch was my first interdisciplinary collaboration with sculptor Anna Gillespie. Anna’s enthusiasm for new territories (this was her first collaboration within dance and mine with a visual artist) was infectious. She met each challenge with an open mind and heart and the end result was a moving and powerful experience for us in process and performance.
The dancers Francesco, Sharol and Iris performed with exceptional dedication, rigour and heart. With heavy sculptures and anaerobically draining choreography, the group put all their energy into each other, working tirelessly alongside dramaturg Neus Gil Cortes, rehearsal director Louise Bennett and composer Samuel Hall to make something really new and exciting. Still Touch as a work incorporates sculptures of human form to feel the weight of loved ones who aren’t within touching distance. It was a work that exposed me and maker to a new sense of vulnerability and new waters, and I’m wholeheartedly grateful to every artist, organisation and venue for their support in making it happen. Our hopes are to tour the working again in 2020 and more information will be announced in Autumn 2019. With performances this year at Royal Opera House, Exeter Phoenix and Sterts Arts Centre, I hope for a longer and further enriching touring life to come.
New Creation: Silence Between Waves
The third and final work this year is Silence Between Waves, which was an intergenerational site specific work that was created and performed on Berry Head, which is a headland at the end of my home town of Brixham. The work was co-produced by Dance in Devon and Eyeview for Torbay Culture’s Great Place Scheme and was an immensely personal creation which helped define and celebrate my varying definitions of home. By connecting the three Singaporean dancers Faye Tan, Shaw En Chew and Shaun Lim with a local 38 people strong community cast aged 14-94, the work brought together hugely valued and appreciated companies and local organisations from my career and artists who I admire and love from the other side of the world. We created a work where the sea could be viewed as a bridge to far off places and not a wall, celebrating local stories and people alongside embracing dance in the wider world.
As my first outdoor work and first RCD creation to feature a community cast, this work was a series of new learning curves all around and I was immensely grateful to Dance in Devon director Sue Smith for her guidance and relentless energy and enthusiasm during the process. A short film has also been created by filmmaker Daniel Martin on Berry Head of the Singaporean Dancers which will be shared across the internet in July.
This year has been a real joy and thank you for sharing it with us! It's been a real privilege to create and present these works this year and I'm wholeheartedly grateful to all of who've shared the experience with me in some shape or form. More to follow in 2020.
Full Season Credits:
Choreographer: Richard Chappell
Dramaturg: Neus Gil Cortes
Composer: Samuel Hall
Sculptor Still Touch: Anna Gillespie
Filmmaker Silence Between Waves: Daniel Martin
Company Dancers At the end we begin and Still Touch: Iris Borras, Sharol Mackenzie, Francesco Migliaccio
Company Dancers Silence Between Waves: Faye Tan, Shaun Lim, Shaw En Chew
Community Groups Silence Between Waves: ROC Creation, The Spires School, Step in Time, Brixham Academy, Lifeworks
Research and Development Dancer Still Touch: Sabrina Gargano
Rehearsal Director and Company Manager: Louise Bennett
Lighting Designer Still Touch and Technical Manager: Flora Wilkinson
Lighting Designer At the end we begin: Kieron Johnson
Marketing Photographers: Jack Thomson, Gemma Ward
Mentors and Outside Eyes: Sue Smith, Freddie Opoku-Addaie
Core Funders: Arts Council England, The Linbury Trust, National Arts Council Singapore
Commissioners: Royal Opera House, Dancing' Oxford, Pegasus Theatre, Eyeview, Torbay Culture
Partner Organisations: Dance in Devon, Dance City, Pavilion Dance South West, Swindon Dance, Exeter Phoenix, DanceEast, Midsummer Dance Festival, Sound Communities
Touring Venues: Royal Opera House, The House (Plymouth Conservatoire), The Acorn (Penzance), Rambert School, Pegasus Theatre, Berry Head, Pavilion Dance South West, Exeter Phoenix, Sterts Arts Centre, Cockington Court
Black and White Rehearsal: Stephen Tolfrey
Still Touch: Gemma Ward
At the end we begin: Gemma Ward
Silence Between Waves: Daniel Martin