Excellent Together is a joint venture which has evolved between Corali Dance Company and Thick & Tight. It is a research project where individual dance artists from Corali are connected to a dance artist from Thick & Tight’s networks. Each dancer from Corali has a learning disability and has lived experience of being marginalised from society. The artists they are paired with all align with or ally the queer-focused work that Thick & Tight produce.
By bringing together people from different backgrounds, at different stages in their development as artists and from a wide range of minority and underrepresented groups, collectively we hope that Excellent Together can:
- disband prejudice surrounding what makes an artist or their work ‘excellent’
- blur the lines between professional and participatory practice
- build solace and understanding
- discover what artistic, educational and social benefits can occur for all those involved.
The idea initially came about due to Corali member Bethan Kendrick’s desire to meet and work with dance artist Julie Cunningham after seeing them perform live. So we decided we had to make it happen! It was wonderful to be able to support Bethan and Julie, to witness their shared qualities and the joint strength that grew out of their connection. We knew we had to expand the project and pair the other Corali dancers with new collaborators in the dance community. So far, we are planning to support 9 partnerships.
To allow the artists to come together in as safe and inclusive a way as possible we invented a set of score-cards filled with questions, tasks and provocations which would help each pairing to get to know one another and build an artistic rapport. From there, each partnership has been supported by supplying them with studio space, paying them for their time, providing online platforms during lockdown, sending gifts to engage and interact with and by us being as responsive to their artistic ambitions as possible.
Our role is to facilitate and support each partnership but never to direct or put pressure on their development. Ultimately, we hope to help assist each grouping for as long as they need us. In turn, we feedback the project learning into our companies to help improve our working structures, studio practice and education/outreach capabilities. We look forward to seeing how each pair develops in their own unique ways, introduce more people into the mix and help them achieve whatever they desire to make happen.
Partners so far:
Bethan Kendrick & Jules Cunningham
Housni (DJ) Hassan & Thomasin Gulgec
Jackie Ryan & Patricia Langa
Graham Evans & Gerard Bell
Paul Davidson & Edd Arnold
Vaneshia Bailey & Vidya Patel
DJ & Thom:
Below is a film of a collection of moments taken from the second day that Thom and DJ met and played together at the Wayne McGregor Studios. Their shared energy and connection was remarkable to be around. Click on the play button to watch film.
Bethan & Jules:
Below are a series of photos taken by Jon Archdeacon from the second day that Bethan and Jules worked together in a free space on Oxford Street given to us thanks to Sally Marie. Julie and Bethan, who made it clear needed no assistance from us, created a brilliant sequence of movement with all the hallmarks of their style and practice as choreographers.
Photos by Jon Archdeacon
Vaneshia & Vidya:
Below is a short film, filmed on Danny's iPhone of Vidya and Vaneshia. This comes from only spending a few hours with one another in a community centre in London. The use of mirroring and gestural movement helped create a simple yet beautiful minute of film. Click the play button to watch the short film.
Vidya & Alsev:
Below are two videos which Vidya made for Alsev during lockdown. They decided to send one another videos which taught movement and dance; Vidya shared her knowledge of classical Kathak and Alsev shared videos of her love of Bollywood dancing. Press the play buttons to watch.
During lockdown we sent some members of Excellent Together letters and a small envelope of cornflower seeds so that they could grow something at the same time as their partner, something real that held life and hope at a time when people were very isolated and scared. Alsev sent this photo of her Cornflower in full bloom from her and her Grandmother's garden. The experience has caught her imagination and she regally updates us on the cornflowers as well as all the ideas she has to make a dance film. We are working to make this become a reality for Alsev and Vidya soon.
Paul & Edd:
Edd and Paul have only been able to meet as part of 'Excellent Together' online as their partnership was begun during lockdown. However they shared a lot of personal information and thoughts through the use of the score cards and then spent two sessions improvising and learning material from one another. Their expertise as contemporary dancers/choreographers mixed with their kindness and softness is something very special.
Pat & Jackie:
Pat and Jackie have worked together lots before, mainly in Corali's show 'Technicolour Everyday' and known each other for many years. They spent two days together making up a dance to 50s Cuban music, a party piece that everyone should see!