Every year, Candoco Dance Company host an ‘International Summer Lab’ bringing together dance practitioners from all over the world to share the company’s approach, exchange ideas and create connections in a professional training environment. This year’s lab took place in August at the University of Roehampton. The company give an overview of the programme and speak to one of this edition’s practitioners.
Candoco Dance Company’s International Summer Lab has been running in various forms since the early days of Candoco and has most recently been delivered by guest artists such as Anouk Llaurens, Matthias Sperling and Alexander Whitley. The focus and format of our Lab changes each year to reflect the company’s current creative influences but our desire to open our studio, exchange practice and to engage with different artists from different cultures and disciplines remains.
The International Summer Lab is a chance for artists and dancers to come together and experience how the company works and how we research and develop new performance ideas. It’s a development opportunity for more experienced artists wishing to engage with Candoco over an intensive period and a training opportunity for those with less experience.
This year’s Lab was led by Dog Kennel Hill Project, a collective of artists Henrietta Hale, Rachel Lopez de la Nieta and Ben Ash. Artistic co-Directors of Candoco, Ben Wright and Charlotte Darbyshire said:
“Having followed Dog Kennel Hill Project’s work closely over the past 15 years, we jumped at the opportunity to invite the collective to lead our International Lab this summer. Valuing the sensitivity, rigour and humour inherent within their work, the Lab provided a unique and exciting opportunity to engage with the group’s collaborative practice, weaving overlapping threads of enquiry and seeing how connections are made between different creative approaches.”
Markéta Stránská, dance artist and participant of this year’s Lab
Introduce yourself, your practice and dance experience:
I’m a disabled performer, choreographer and physiotherapist from Prague in the Czech Republic. I entered the contemporary dance community in Prague in 2012 but started with traditional folk dance in my childhood. Besides my physio private practice, I started to attend regular inclusive dance classes in 2012. Since these ended just a couple of years after I joined, I continue going to regular (not inclusive) workshops for professional dancers and artists. In 2015 I participated in an inclusive dance project Absent by VerTeDance and Jaro Vinarsky, Prague. Since summer 2017 I’ve been working on my solo project both as a dancer and choreographer, and it’s inspired by my physical daily routine of using a prosthetic leg, crutches or being “onelegwoman”.
What attracted you to the International Summer Lab?
I heard about Candoco a couple of years ago and since that time I wondered if there was a way to meet them and experience their way of working, creating, to share their experience within the inclusive art sector. I made contact with them a couple of months ago…and then was encouraged to take part in the International Summer Lab 2018. And I was also quite curious about Dog Kennel Hill Project.
What is unique about Candoco’s approach from your point of view?
For me, it could be unique in everything now since I do not have much experience from another company or place yet. And I’m just getting to know them better. But from the point of view of this first experience, I do appreciate their openness, humanity, support of others and sense of humour also, which I really do like and need.
Why is working internationally and with other international artists important?
I think it is utterly necessary to step out from our own bubble regularly – to get another point of view from different cultural environments and backgrounds, to get inspired, to share our concerns and experience, to support each other, to keep the network going. Simply said, just to open a window and to get some fresh air.
What have you learnt at the Lab that you will pass on to other people?
In general – that any individual effort and contribution is worth being appreciated and supported. And it was very nice to experience this again and also in a new place that I’m not used to. In an artistic way – various dance and creative techniques and attitudes. And, last but not least, a real inspiration for my next steps as a disabled artist in my country…