British Council: Ise City Residency Programme 2019 – 20

Following more than 600 submissions, the British Council invited six UK-based artists all specialising in different art-forms to take part in a unique artistic research residency in Ise City in Japan. Company Director, Nicole Vivien Watson was one of the six artists selected. The residency provided a unique look into the beauty of Japanese culture and its traditions including exclusive access to one of the most prestigious Shinto shrines in Japan, which is not normally open to the public. This residency was part of our UK in Japan 2019-20 programme and is a joint initiative between the British Council and the British Embassy Tokyo. In collaboration with the Department of Industry and Tourism Ise City.

 Nicole Vivien Watson meeting and dancing with Suzuka City’s Deaf Dragons. British Council: Ise City Residency Programme 2019-20

 Nicole Vivien Watson with Suzuka City’s Deaf Dragons. British Council: Ise City Residency Programme 2019-20

With thanks to The Greggs Foundation, Local Communities Fund we can purchase the necessary technology and equipment that will enable members of the D/deaf community to access a range of events and opportunities that place dance and creative movement at the heart of engagement. We look forward to launching new activities in 2020, to coincide with a national and international tour of performance repertoire and community outreach activities.

“The Greggs Foundation is based in Newcastle Upon Tyne and is closely associated with Greggs plc. The Greggs Foundation is a grant-making charity which improves the quality of life in local communities, distributing around £3 million per year to charitable organisations throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

“We would like to extend a massive thanks to Director Nicole Vivien Watson and our friend and choreographer Chris Fonseca who continue to utilise and experiment with our technology. Collectives like Surface Area Dance Theatre enable us to connect people from all walks of life with music and sound while also raising important issues and educating about the D/deaf and Hoh communities”.

Link to full blog-postSUBPAC. We are very excited to continue this journey, with the reassurance of knowing that working with SubPack technology is effective in supporting our efforts – to remain a fully accessible and inclusive organisation.

 

 

‘What is Translation?’ seeks to explore communication and how the processes of interpretation and translation are negotiated. Within the D/deaf world many communication channels are instrumental in how, for example, British Sign Language is fully understood. The parameters of this understanding rest upon an agreed use of sign language structures and vocabulary, that involves a complex system of signed and expressed physical movements. ‘What is Translation?’ seeks to explore the complexities of language and our necessity to find a shared understanding of the world around us.

Commissioned by Surface Area Dance Theatre CIC with support from Dance City’s Creative Summer programme.
Photography by Paul Miller, Dance City, 2019.

arts-ise-city-residency

Courtesy of the British Council and the British Embassy Tokyo, Company Director, Nicole Vivien Watson will be returning to Japan in the Autumn, to hold a residency at Ise City, the home of Ise Jingu (Ise Grand Shrine). The starting-point of her research will be investigations into the architecture and artistry of the shrine’s Torii (鳥居)(Gateway to the shrine). Every Japanese shrine has a Torii, passing through the gateway is a symbolic action, a sign that one has passed from the every-day into a spiritual world.

“I’m very thankful to be one of the six artists invited to take part in the programme and to have the opportunity to hold meetings with Japanese Shinto priests, craft makers, local residents and artists, making new friendships and discovering even more about a country, culture and people I hold so dear”. Nicole Vivien Watson

– Sunrise at Ujibashi Bridge, Ise Shrine (around the winter solstice), photo by Jingushicho (Jingu Administration Office)
@britisharts

By clearing evidencing progressive strategies, Surface Area Dance Theatre is celebrating a further two years of Disability Confident Employer status, awarded by the Department of Work and Pensions and has committed to four priorities;
1, challenging attitudes towards disability
2, increasing understanding of disability
3, removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
4, ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

Surface Area Dance Theatre is committed to making the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the organisation and will continue to challenge negative stereotypes by supporting and encouraging ability.

An excerpt from a recently published review of ‘Hand in Hand’ covered by Disability Arts Online (DAO). Sincere thanks to DAO for capturing the spirit of this extraordinary event so perfectly!

“The strength of this piece was in collaboration and accessibility which was integral right from inception and this played beautifully on stage – there was no BSL interpreter as an add-on. In moments of text, there were always two performers playing back and forth with each other, one using stunning flowing BSL and the other spoken English, with points of joint signing which would flow back into or out of the dance…”.

Congratulations to all involved in the ‘Hand in Hand’ project and many thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for your continued encouragement.

Photographed by Paul Miller, Dance City, March 2019.

Dance artist Alex Rowland, Photographed by Paul Miler, Leeds, 2018.

Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones, exists as an enquiry and process of choreographic research, centred upon Nicole Vivien Watson’s understanding and knowledge of British Sign Language, Deaf culture and Butoh. 

Language, communication and physical expression through movement, are three of the principal interests Nicole has chosen to include in the present-phase of artistic developments, culminating in live performances, that will take place in the UK and beyond throughout 2020. In December 2018, the first of four periods of studio research took place in Leeds, during which, three dance artists, Charlie Dearnley, Chris Fonseca and Alex Rowland,  joined Nicole and musician Tom White and visual artist Graham Patterson to begin the first chapter of their shared journey. 

The opening or gateway, to the collective’s coming together, was supported by the introduction of Ma (間) as the group began to physically interpret the possibilities of Ma, responding with an assertive series of gestures, postures and settlements of physical contact, instigated by the proposition of using the entire body as a listening instrument, capable of feeling, touching and seeing the colours and textures of sound, sound in space and sound in silence.  

As a collective of hearing and Deaf artists, the group’s shared time and offerings of artistic and intellectual resources are providing and instigating new avenues of enquiry, which will be thought over, structured and reorientated within the choreography’s identity, encountered by future audiences and participants.  

Company Director, Nicole Vivien Watson, returns to the UK from a remarkable journey to the West coast of Japan. The venture was motivated by her on-going research into the life and works of Lafcadio Hearn (小泉八雲).  The photographs below were taken at Hearn’s former residence in Metsue. With many thanks and kind wishes to Bon Koizumi, Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum Director; Great-grandson of Lafcadio Hearn.

Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was a British national of Greek and Irish descent, who was educated at Ushaw College in County Durham, England. After travelling over halfway around the globe, he arrived in Japan. In 1896, he married Koizumi Setsu, the daughter of a Matsue samurai, and became a Japanese citizen. During his fifty-four years of life, he produced thirty works, including Kwaidan, which he wrote in his later years.

 

Photographs of Lafcadio Hearn’s home and garden Matsue, Japan7 of June, 2018. By Nicole Vivien Watson.