Guest artist blog – Vertical Dance Training with Lindsey Butcher & Lee Clayden at Irish Aerial Dance Festival

By 5th August 2017Uncategorised

This year Angharad Jones, a freelance dance artist based in North Wales, was awarded an Articulture bursary to train with highly acclaimed Vertical Dance artists Lindsey Butcher (pictured above) and Lee Clayden. The aim was to receive intense training to refine her technique in harness work to allow her to progress in the art form.

Angharad currently works for children’s theatre with Little Light Dance and Digital Theatre, and previously with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru on Dawns Ysbrydion. Whilst many of her experiences have been in traditional theatre settings, it is the experiences of taking dance out of the theatre that have been most interesting to her. Since working with North Wales based Vertical Dance practitioner Kate Lawrence, her vision of taking dance and theatre to unexpected places has opened up her imagination.

Here her account of the training, which she feels developed her confidence in vertical dance technique, and ignited a curiosity to try new ideas, which she hopes to bring to the projects at Pontio’s Circus Festival in North Wales this summer.

In April 2017 I attended the Irish Aerial Dance Festival where I had the opportunity to train in Vertical Dance technique and repertoire with Lindsey Butcher, and explore the possibilities of vertical dance as a duet in a doubles class led by Lee Clayden.

The festival was a fantastic opportunity to work on refining my vertical dance technique under Lindsey’s keen eye for detail and Lee’s compassionate direction.

The training – a busy schedule and new techniques 

A typical day at the festival went a little like this –

9am: An adrenaline fuelled, sweaty dance class led by Lee Clayden – a perfect way to be energised for the rest of the day! Lee’s focus on working from the pelvis and softening through the feet and the floor was an integral warm up for harness work.

12pm: Repertoire class with Lindsey.

In this class we learnt a piece of work from Lindsey’s repertoire. I thoroughly enjoyed learning Lindsey’s challenging choreography which included many fast, precise movements which challenged my physicality and my technique to move in a new way. Learning new choreography allowed my body to find new pathways and make new connections and transitions between movements, this has inspired me to seek new pathways as I devise my own material.

Throughout the week we built on the piece of repertoire, which became more and more physically and technically challenging.

The technique class and repertoire class went hand in hand – technical movements such as forward and backward rotations and hip switches, Lindsey’s famous ‘kenny series’, which have an interesting take-off and landing position were all introduced in the technique class, where we had the opportunity to practice and refine the movements. These movements then appeared in the repertoire, only here the challenge was to perform the movements with particular timings as well as integrating our own artistic voice into the movement which was the greatest challenge due to the pace and precision of Lindsey’s work!

2:30pm: Vertical Dance technique with Lindsey.

This is the class where I really got to work on the fundamentals of Vertical Dance technique. Lindsey’s eye for fine detail and ability to explain the mechanics of the movements was extremely helpful. I feel that I have come away from the experience with a deeper physical understanding of movements that I was already familiar with as well as being introduced to new movements which were technically challenging which I can bring back to North Wales to work on.

6:30pm: Vertical Dance Doubles with Lee Clayden

The doubles class involved two ropes being rigged very close together and therefore working in very close proximity to your partner on the wall. I worked with the lovely Yanika from Strattsburg throughout the week – half the challenge was getting used to your partners body, their rhythm, timing and weight. Tuning in and listening to each other’s movements was integral to making the duet work, work well. Lee put a lot of emphasis on listening to your partner and softening into the wall to gain better control of your own movements as well as being able to adjust and manipulate yourself around your partner.

Over the course of the week we explored ways of passing over and under, supporting and balancing. Artistically, I really like the possibilities that were uncovered during this class and I would like to explore working as a duet on two ropes that are rigged close together in this way again.

Conclusion – useful learning for future work 

Overall the week of training with Lindsey and Lee was superb. I am really looking forward to taking what I’ve learnt this week with me to the Vertical Dance Forum at Pontio, Bangor this July and other projects I am involved in with Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence this summer including ‘Llechi’ also at Pontio, Bangor.

The training I have received at the Irish Aerial Dance Festival has developed my confidence in vertical dance technique and ignited a curiosity to try new ideas which I hope to be able to bring to the projects at Pontio this summer.

Feature photo: ′Lindsey Butcher’ – Credit/Lindsey Butcher

Article photo: ′Training’ – Credit/Angharad Jones


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