Farewell Spring... now bring on Summer!

Having completed a fruitful Spring season, Stopgap Dance Company is now preparing for the upcoming Summer tour. Company Producer Sho Shibata reflects back on Spring 2014 and looks forward to a busy Summer season.

Spring 2014 was an important season for Stopgap Dance Company, as it launched our latest stage work Artificial Things in UK. Artificial Things is the debut production by our Artistic Director Lucy Bennett, and we are excited (and relieved) to have received so many positive responses. This is the production that announced Lucy’s new leadership and the subscequent change in the direction of the company. We made a conscious effort to work on ‘the look’ of the production, and our attention to the production design has hopefully gone some way in visually communicating the major change within our company.

The key change we wanted to show through Artificial Things was the fact that we now devise original works as an ensemble of integrated artists, and that we have some of the most experienced dancers who can dig much deeper into integrated dance as an artform. Having spent the majority of last year working on Artificial Things, we sense that integrated dance has a particular approach and process, and we look forward to exploring these through our future productions. I am sure this will be a topic of another blog in the near future too.

Some of our current thinking was picked up by the members of press and media, and we are very grateful to them for helping us share our thoughts with the wider public. We are particularly thrilled by Dave Toole being featured on BBC's The Why Factor and Lucy being interviewed by The Guardian's Arts Head. Our feature article on the online magazine Exeunt allowed us to go into things in a little more detail, which was an opportunity we appreciated very much.

Spring 2014 came to an end with the London Premiere of Artificial Things last week at Lilian Baylis Studio, where we performed as part of =dance, a new inclusive strand of Sadler’s Wells. It was fantastic to launch this exciting new venture with two sold out performances, and thank you to everyone who came to support us. Your reaction on twitter on 13th and 14th May are much appreciated!

In the same week as our London Premiere, our new outdoor production The Awakening had its UK Premiere at Pavilion Dance South West as part of Integrated Dance Summit on 16th May. Special thanks to Amy who performed so brilliantly in both productions in one week! The feedback for this production was very good too, which has set us up well for the UK tour this summer. You can find the tour dates on The Awakening webpage.

In the post-show talk of The Awakening, Adam Benjamin kindly pointed out that Chris has made a little piece of history. Chris is now the first learning disabled choreographer to have made work for national touring, and we are very proud to have produced this work and built a busy summer tour for him. I hope that it has been a stimulating learning process for Chris too and we are looking forward to changing public perception about learning disabled artists.

Producing work for a learning disabled artist has been a very interesting journey for me personally, and this will be the topic of my next blog in June...!

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