Nicole Vivien Watson, Director

As a passionate learner Nicole places investigation at the centre point of practice, within which are multiple and diverse, interdisciplinary processes. When asked to describe her interests Nicole consistently refers to an understanding and empirical knowledge of Butoh, which can be described as a contrastive spectrum of philosophy, performance and socially concerned activities.

Equal to her knowledge of Butoh is a persistent consideration of non - verbal communication as Nicole's choreographic repertoire is dedicated to art as a means of communication. Nicole began studying British Sign Language (BSL), seven years ago with support from the Royal Ballet Benevolent fund. Nicole is a British Sign Language advocate and communicator to support the D/deaf artistic community in the North of England and London. Butoh and BSL occupy a generative importance within her practice, described by Nicole as “Luminous pillars holding the support of continued personal and professional development”.

Recent endeavours; Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones, with support from the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, Durham Cathedral and Dance City. 'UK in JAPAN 2019-20' artistic residency, courtesy of the British Council and the British Embassy Tokyo. Nominated for One Dance UK's Jane Attenborough Award for contributions to improving accessibility in the arts. Nicole is currently studying an MA in Japanese Studies, at the School of African and Asian Studies, (SOAS) University of London, (2018-20).

Present research includes;

Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stone (2018 - 2020), with support from Arts Council England and Dance City. Hand in Hand (2019) created in collaboration with Chisato Minamimura and supported by Arts Council England, The Japan Foundation, Dance City and the Big Lottery Fund. The Other Side of Me (2018) in partnership with Northumbria University and Aycliffe Secure Centre in County Durham. Mud Formed a Finger Pointed, (2018) The New York Butoh Institute, USA. Raft, (2017-18) supported by Arts Council England and performed at CCA: Glasgow, Workplace Gallery and Berwick Visual Arts (UK). Where our Roots are Planted, (2017) in partnership with Antoine Hunter, SFO and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (UK), supported by Arts Council England.

Past works; Project Godie Publication Launch, (2017) in partnership with; Cococara Art & Space, Tokyo and supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund,  Japan Local Government Centre and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. Auricular, (2017); supported by Arts Council England and performed in partnership with CCA: Glasgow, Berwick Visual Arts and Turner Contemporary (UK). Project Godie, UK, Japan, NYC, (2016-18); supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Project Godie: Revealing a Forgotten Chapter of North-east History (2017-18); In partnership with the Discovery Museum and the Laing Art Gallery, (UK) A Mountain of Black Stones, (2016); made in collaboration with Yorgos Maraziotis (GR) and Klunks, presented at Beton7, Athens.

Past performances and exhibitions; 伯父 UNCLE, (2017); exhibited at Dance City, Newcastle upon Tyne, (UK) and supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, Dance City and Japan Local Government Centre. BushBash - Tokyo, (2016);  The Institute for Creative Arts Practice - Newcastle University, (2014); Space In Between, in collaboration with the ARKA Group, London (2014); BALTIC 39, Newcastle upon Tyne, (2014); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (2013); Battersea Arts Centre (2013);  La MaMa, East Village, NYC (2012); Brooklyn Arts Exchange, (2012); Movement Research at Judson Memorial Church, NYC (2011).

Residencies and research periods; Action Learning (2018), Facilitated by Independent Dance and Dancers Career Development, with support from the Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund and Siobhan Davies Studios.

International research; Investigation of the life and cultural legacy of Lafcadio Hearn – Koizumi Yakumo (1850–1904), writer, translator, and journalist. Taking place in Northwest Japan and Northern England (2018 - 19).

International residencies; The New York Butoh Institute, 2018. The Ohno Studio Japan, Yokohama (2007, 2009, 2016 and 2017); Japan Deaf Theatre, Tokyo, (2017); Greek Deaf Theatre, Athens, (2016);  Movement Research, NYC, (2011) and São Paulo, Brazil, (2010).

Awards; Artists International Development Fund - Arts Council England and British Council, in support of a research visit and performances, co-supported by the New York Butoh Institute, (2018). The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation supported artist, (2016 - 17), Artists International Development Fund - Arts Council England and British Council, (2016 - 17), Royal Ballet Benevolent Award, (2015) Daiwa Anglo-Japanese bursary holder, (2015 - 16).

Paul Miller, Co-Director  As a native British Sign Language user, Paul strives to illuminate Deaf Culture within mainstream forums. Paul was appointed a Director of Surface Area Dance Theatre CIC in 2015 and performed in the company's national tour of Auricular (2017) at CCA: Glasgow, Berwick Visual Arts and Turner Contemporary. Paul's focus and direction are to create inclusive opportunities that are underpinned by a commitment to increase the visibility and potential for members of the D/deaf community to attain leadership roles within the artistic and wider community. By committing to this philosophy, Paul and Nicole work to contribute to a diverse society that is equal and accessible to all.

Highlighted activities include: May 2017 - 2019, Paul and Nicole travelled to Tokyo to collaborate with Japan Deaf Theatre, this is an ongoing international collaboration and one that continues to offer learning and international co-working, within British and Japanese Sing Languages.

In September 2017, Paul and Nicole were invited by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (UK) to work as guest producers for Where Our Roots Are Planted a participatory project led by internationally renowned deaf choreographer Antoine Hunter. That included participation from twenty, community performers, with support from Arts Council England.

2018-2020, visual archivists and British Sign Language consultant, involved in the practical research of Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stone (2018 - 2020), with support from Arts Council England and Dance City.

Hand In Hand (2019) choreographed by Chisato Minamimura and produced by Surface Area Dance Theatre. Presented at Dance City, in collaboration with visual artist Graham Patterson and musician Tom White. The finale of a week-long project led by Chisato, that involved twenty extraordinary D/deaf and hearing dancers from the North-East region, who were inspired to respond to Chisato’s unique creative practice. Supported by Arts Council England, Dance City, Moving Art Management and The Japan Foundation.

Christopher Fonseca, Board member and British Sign Language Advisor

Christopher Fonseca is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher, and global deaf ambassador, specialising in Urban dance and is based in central London, he works extensively across the UK, and overseas, often receiving international invitations and commissions.

It can be said that Chris’s earliest inspirations are credited to actor Michael 'Boogaloo Shrimp' Chambers, and old Skool dance techniques such as; Electric Boogaloo, Popping, locking and B-Boying.

Chris is a founding member of Def Motion (2011-13), an all-deaf dance group affiliated to Deaffest - the UK's annual Deaf Film Festival, during this time Chris graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in Graphic Communication. The proceeding eight years has offered Chris a diverse spectrum of experiences and accomplishments. In 2012 Chris appeared in the Paralympics opening ceremony (London 2012, UK) illuminating Chris’s talents as an accomplished dance artist and creator. More recent activities include; The Black Collective: Black History Month, (2015) Smirnoff: Ice keeps it moving campaign, LinkedIn Chase the great campaign (2016), SKY1 what’s up TV BBC: The one show, (2017), BBC THREE: Amazing Human JBL: Sound to See, campaign (2018). Chris is currently leading a participatory community activity involving members of the Deaf, H/hearing and hearing community in London, taking place at Studio Wayne Mc Gregor, with support from Arts Council England.

Chisato Minamimura, Senior Artistic Collaborator

Chisato Minamimura is a professional conceptual dance choreographer, dance artist and BSL art presenter. Minamimura approaches choreography from her unique perspectives as a Deaf artist, creating what she calls ‘visual sound/ music’. Minamimura uses a mathematical score in order to create her choreography and aims to enhance the experience of dance without using music but instead creating visual sound. The point at which she starts is the question: What is visual sound/music? From a deaf perspective.


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