Saturday, 21 July 2012

Outdoor Performance Cancelled Due to Rain

Unfortunately, the outdoor performance scheduled for Sunday the 22nd at Crystal Palace Park has been cancelled due to heavy amounts of rainfall.

We would like to extend a great big Thank You to everyone who came out to support the dancers last Friday for the premiere of The Ed Effect! It was a truly wonderful experience for everyone involved, and the audience loved the end result!

We look forward to seeing you at our future performances!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

From our Artistic Director

A message from the Artistic Director, Avril Hitman, on the production of 'The Ed Effect'

Artistically I knew this would be an interesting opportunity for Magpie as a company to work with Re: Bourne artists from New Adventures; two companies that have been around a long time, but with very different paths.  I have long admired Matthew Bourne’s work for the story telling through dance and for the accessibility and humour that he brings to New Adventures performances.  The collaboration has been a long time in the making, initial discussions with Re: Bourne started in September 2011.  The Artistic Exchange was planned in as an integral part to the project and was a very important part of the process.  This was the first time that Magpie has been involved in an exchange of this nature; it was incredibly valuable for each team to share an understanding of the ways that each company works to enable the collaborative process to move forwards. 

The 3 days residency at Easter was exciting to see how the story of Edward Sissorhands started to unfold and to find our ‘Ed’, the Magpie dancer who would dance the central role. Paul has risen to the challenge, making a fantastic Ed, bringing just the right mix of aloofness and powerful imagery for the dancers to work with. 
Edward Sissorhands is a story that has relevance to us all; acceptance, family life, bringing something special to life as an individual regardless of how we appear, or if we don’t seem to conform to the ‘norm’ whatever that might be. And importantly, being appreciated for who we are as individuals. These are all aspects of Magpie’s work and underlying ethos. 
It has been an ambitious project on a larger scale than previously undertaken at Magpie; however I wanted us to be challenged with the work and experience new ideas and ways of working.  I wanted us to experience character work as a starting point for the work, which is the basis of New Adventures way of working with a strong story to be told.  It has been interesting to see Magpie’s freelancers and New Adventures artists gaining an appreciation of each other’s work and finding the way through to bring something of each company to the piece.  I believe we have achieved this.
I’ve loved going into rehearsals to see the characters developing, adding more layers to the piece and bringing individual characters to life. We’ve been very fortunate to work with a great team from Magpie and New Adventures, plus a wonderful costume designer and prop maker! 
We’re nearly there now, be prepared to be amazed by the ‘Ed Effect’ on stage at the Churchill Theatre and Crystal Palace Park!
Avril Hitman
Artistic Director 13.7.12.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

First Glance at Costume/Prop Design!

Our costume designer Chris Davidson is very excited to bring you a sneak peak of what he has been creating for The Ed Effect; see the pictures below for a preview of what to expect in our live performances!

All Hands on Deck at our First Full Company Rehearsal

Saturday 9th June, the Ed Effect Team brought our youth group and adult group dancers together to connect the pieces of the Ed Effect Story that has been created.

It was also the first time the dancers had seen all of their props, created by our costume and prop designer Chris Davidson.  Chris has created some wonderful props that really bring the story to life.  You can see some of his designs in an upcoming blog post! WATCH THIS SPACE!

See the latest photos in our Gallery or Ed in his costume, and the company at work.

Feedback from participants, Re:Bourne artists and Magpie Facilitators coming soon...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

"Moving as One Extended Team" - Alison Ferrao

In Addition to the New Adventure artists that attended the February artist exchange, we also spoke with Magpie Dance Facilitator Alison about her experiences. Here are some of her responses:

 1. What was your overall impression of the 2 artist exchange days? 
“A really great introduction to both companies. It was important to have had this experience ahead of rehearsals commencing to ensure our dancers could gain the maximum benefit from the project."
2. What did you find most useful about the Artist Exchange? 
The conversation we had at the end of day two was very important.  Once we had experienced each company’s way of working, we could then discuss what would and wouldn’t work for the dancers and how things may be adapted.  This felt like we were moving forward as one extended team rather than two separate companies."

3. What did you learn?
I had the chance to find out more about the NA way of working which was quite interesting.  The usual way of working at Magpie is to start with a very simple idea and then gradually build up layers.  After the NA workshop, I had to think about how we would reverse this process to make it inclusive.  This was a new approach and a different way of working for me."
4. Is there anything in particular that will inform the way you work as an artist/teacher in future? 
"As mentioned above, I would consider a different approach.  Also, I have used some of the exercises from the NA workshop in the community class. They have been well received and it was a positive challenge for participants and myself to attempt a completely different way of working and  focussing within the group."
5. What are your expectations for this Big Dance project?
"Hopefully, we can provide a new experience for the Magpie dancers and develop their skills which will result in a new innovative piece that will be well-received by the audience."

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

"It was great to be welcomed" - Artist Exchange Feedback

Michela, Steve and Jack (New Adventure artists) all came to the February artist exchange and were asked to answer some questions about their experience. Here are their responses:

1. What was your overall impression of the 2 artist exchange days?

“The artist exchange days were very well organised and structured”[M.M].

“I thought the two days were planned extremely well from both sides”[S.K].
“Only having attended the Magpie half of the exchange it was very useful for me in learning how magpie works and the practices they use. Not only was it useful for finding the differences in our approaches but also the many similarities” [J.J].
2. What did you find most useful about the Artist Exchange?
“Watching the magpie leaders and facilitators teaching a class and putting into practice the tools talked about in the morning” [M.M]
“As a new adventures artist it was great to be welcomed and taken through the Magpie process by Alison and David and their experience really shone through” [S.K].
“There are quite a few details of working with the magpie groups that were essential to know before working with them and the exchange was necessary to learn these. The afternoon with some of the participants was then very helpful to put these into practice” [J.J].
3. What did you learn? (NA artists…please reflect on inclusive practice skills learned from the session with Magpie)
“The importance of asking the dancers questions and giving them responsibility in the creative process” [M.M]
“I learnt lots of new games and exercises and how to work with integrated groups so that everyone feels included, which will be so helpful in the process and the future” [S.K].
“One of the most useful things I learnt was that whilst some participants might respond well to vocal instructions, others understand an image better, or an action to show them, or even a sound, and that a blanket approach rarely works for all. Also getting the participants to actively contribute to the workshop, so that it is they who are taking the initiative rather than us telling them what to do” [J.J].
4. Is there anything in particular that will inform the way you work as an artist/teacher in future?
“To always challenge my expectations of the participants and never to make assumptions” [M.M].
“I think more than anything it was the things that you should avoid and the things that physically you have to be aware of… and that it has to be a completely ‘inclusive’ experience”[S.K].
“One of the points above I will take with me on any teaching project now, the point regarding the different approaches to lead someone to understand a subject, and not just using words/instructions to do it [J.J].
5. What are your expectations for this Big Dance project?
“I would really like for the magpie dancers to have a fun time and to be able to enjoy the 'story telling' style of New Adventures” [M.M].
“My expectations are that we are able to give the performers a New Adventures experience… That they be a part of a narrative piece of work, to include story telling and movement and that it is new way for them…
I feel strongly that we don't resort to ways of working that are easier or more familiar and that we continue to challenge the practitioners to think and move differently to what they have been used to… Overall the process is enjoyable and exciting and something they will always remember” [S.K].
“That it will push the participants into doing something new and challenge them in their practice/performance skills” [J.J].

Friday, 20 April 2012

"CONSTANTLY SURPRISED!" Jack Jones on The Residency.

The residency with Magpie was as much a process of discovery for me as a teacher as it was for them as participants. We weren't quite sure of what to expect and so were obliged into keeping an open mind regarding how the workshops would progress.

One thing that arose during the first day was that it probably would have been useful to have gone through some of the details of leading the Magpie dancers beforehand, as it had been a few weeks since the artist exchange. Things like placing the hand at the back of the neck when looking upward, not pointing with the finger but with the whole hand, small things like this that we don't tend to do out of habit.

On the second day, we divided the group into their families and had a Magpie facilitator in each group. This approach seemed to work very well and sped up the process of creating the piece considerably. It was a great help to have facilitators in each group as we could then go around and take care of the "bigger picture", without the groups loosing their focus. I found that quite a few of the participants became very engaged with the character work, more so than they had been the previous day on some of the more abstract ideas. The group of three girls, who were the Fashion Family, particularly came alive at this point and worked very well together in creating some fun and interesting scenes.

Once we began running sections more than once I was consistantly suprised at how the participants added details every time, constantly fleshing it out and finding new moments to add. This is very much how we tend to work professionaly too, starting with the main landmarks and allowing the details of the scene to evolve with the piece.

One aspect that was of the most use was the live music. It is something I wish we could use elsewhere though I doubt it would be possible. I didn't realise before how useful it can be in not only guiding the participants but also in maintaining focus. The fact that it is live also allows it to be adaptive in a way that recorded music can't, and especially with the character work, gives the participants a feeling and atmosphere to work from.

I very much look forward to finding out how the piece has evolved when I return in June and what details the participants had added to their characters.

Jack Jones, New Adventures Artist