Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Image: Brian Slater
Running since 2013, the Connections project comprises a series of exchange programmes focused on VERVE, the postgraduate performance company of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD).
The Connections exchange continually reinforces links with a number of international schools and companies, including fellow Conservatoire school London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS), Austria-based dance conservatoire SEAD and Swiss company Le MARCHEPIED, Centre National de Danse Contemporaine (CNDC) in Angers, and Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse Paris (CNSMDP).
VERVE travel to the participating schools and take part in residencies of between two and five days. During each residency the collected companies share technique classes, repertory material, classes with guest choreographers, undertake creative tasks in a workshop setting and perform together. The company of each of the organisations also travels to Leeds to perform a reciprocal performance at the Riley Theatre, NSCD’s performance space, and take part in a mini-residency.
The residencies offer the students excellent practice-sharing and networking opportunities as well as exposure to potential employers.
“It opened our eyes to understand how big the dance community actually is and gave us an even greater understanding of the opportunities there for us outside of the UK.”
“The classes we had from teachers with different backgrounds allowed us to discover exciting new ways of moving as well as giving us different outlooks towards our own work.”
The artistic value of the exchange lies in the touring of performance work, the chance to see new works and be introduced to different aesthetics, new collaborations and sharing of creative practices and stimulation, as well as a broader forum for critical debate. Each year the participant dancers gain experience of life in a professional touring company, working with new choreographers through the creation and rehearsal process, multiple and varied performance situations, as well as building solid experience of teaching and networking.
The artistic programme comprises multiple new choreographic works that are disseminated to a wide audience throughout the UK and Europe through performance and workshop activity. Several VERVE dancers have built professional relationships and progressed to gain employment from their time spent working with guest choreographers as part of the Connections programme. The exchange also creates opportunities to present and develop British choreographers and their work in a European setting, for example Brighton-based choreographer Theo Clinkard taught VERVE as a guest facilitator in 2014, which led to a choreographic commission for the 2015 tour.