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danceWEB offered a slot in the danceWEB Scholarship Programme 2012 to the co-organizer Southbank Centre. This slot comprised a fixed nomination in danceWEB 2012, the covering of 1/3 of the total scholarship expenses, which in general the selected danceWEB candidates need to secure through a funding institution in their home country and the covering of the travel costs. Southbank Centre chose Neil Callaghan (UK) for this slot.

During the five weeks of the danceWEB Scholarship Programme 2012, Neil Callaghan completed 13 technique classes and Research Projects and attended 44 performances, offered by ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival.

report Neil Callaghan

IMPRESSIONS ON danceWEB.

It was five weeks. It was an intensity. 68 people. 40 country’s represented, a whole smorgasbord of workshops, research projects, performances. It was delicious. It was too much, and yet I wanted more. There is always this sense that you are missing out on something, and of course you are always missing out on many things, but this makes the thing you have chosen to do very important. You have chosen that above all else and so you dive into it fully.

The intensity of the programme had a very interesting effect. I couldn’t say I was exhausted, I was highly charged, full of new people, experiences, exchanges, passing moments and conversations. There was no time to feel exhausted, and yet I was constantly fighting tiredness.

Our mentors Benoit Lechambre & Robin Poitras, had an incredible capacity to help us arrive on our own terms. Never dictating or forcing, they found a way to coax, nudge, encourage and support the danceWEB-ers throughout the process. They carried us, but also enabled us to meet the experience and each other, by ourselves. I was hugely grateful for how they managed to create time and space for us so sensitively and delicately, and this laid the foundation for how we would consequently function as a group.

The workshops were diverse, informative and illuminating. I learned a huge amount about my body, my way of thinking, my approaches to making. I felt like my eyes were opened to the horizon. There is also something that happens inbetween the workshops. Taking such diverse workshops in such a dense time means that you start to make your own connections and associations. For me this is exciting. Rather than becoming a devotee of one method or style, you start to assimilate all this information into your own practice. It also means that the useful and important things become very clear and the not-so-useful things are quickly forgotten about.

The spaces in which the workshops took place were inspiring in themselves. The Arsenal, a huge ex-army base which is now used to paint Theatre sets, had tall ceilings, light rooms and had the feeling of doing work. There were also other spaces we worked in for research projects that felt entirely appropriate, for the projects.

Seeing probably two or three performances every night for 5 weeks was an enjoyable endurance. One in which I found myself losing my critical faculties. The performances that have remained in my memory for very different reasons. Perhaps the highlights were: Jan Fabre not just for the endurance. Mark Tompkin’s, Vaudeville for providing some valuable humour. Ko Murobushi, for his energy and power. Trajal Harrell, for choreography in all sizes, Doris Uhlich for Rising Swans and Benoit Lechambre’s Snakeskins, one of the last shows I saw and was very fittingly so.

Rio, Hanna and Dennis were the people from the festival who framed our experience most strongly, choreographing our movements around the city. Their organisational skills, thoroughness and stamina are to be admired. Many festivals in the UK could learn a lot from their meticulousness.

I expected danceWEB would be intense and it was. But it was enriching, enlivening. It gives so much I would not change that intensity. It is the kind of intensity I crave. I knew I would meet 68 other people, I had no idea I would end up feeling so close to each of them. Such a beautiful, diverse, and interesting group of people.

Since returning from danceWEB I have returned much more to making my own work. I have developed a solo which will continue to be developed in early 2013. I have become an Associate Artist at Chisenhale Dance Space and The Point, in Eastleigh. I have no doubt that the impact of danceWEB will inform these new opportunities. The physical experiences of workshops sill surely inform my work as a performer in future work, but also many of the workshops were about composition and will certainly impact upon the future work I make.

In terms of the connections I have made with people I am sure that there will be future moments where our paths intersect. There are already some talk of exchanges happening in Hamburg, Portugal and France, and I hope to make such an exchange possible in London too.

Throughout the 5 weeks I craved more time to talk to people to understand what others were up to, to understand where we meet. The danger is that you have 68 surface conversations and nothing goes very deep. However, I feel like there were many moments of deepness and perhaps that many more will come to fruition over time. There is a digestion and distillation process that needs to happen which will continue for a long time to come. In many ways danceWEB is just the beginning… it now feels that we enter a long process of unfolding the experience.

Leaving danceWEB felt a little like the end of Benoit Lechambre’s Snakeskins: it was not an abrupt end, it was a gradual dispersal back into the world that left a huge impact. But a line hasn’t been drawn underneath that experience. I think it is impossible to have such an experience and for things to carry on as they were before.

I, I follow,
I’ll follow you….

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