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 & Julie Cunningham
Housni (DJ) Hassan & Thomasin Gulgec
Jackie Ryan & Patricia Langa
Graham Evans & Gerard Bell
Paul Davidson & Edd Arnold
Vaneshia Bailey & Vidya Patel