Review printed in British Universities Film and Video Council (2010) Viewfinder. December 2010, No 81
COLLABORATIVE CHOREOGRAPHY: AN APPROACH TO MAKING (CONVERSATIONS WITH NEW ART CLUB) (De Montfort University, 2009) DVD + 11 page booklet
ISBN: 978-1857214000, £16.99
Tutors and students at De Montfort University have produced this DVD and accompanying booklet to stimulate detailed reflection on collaborative choreographic practice. The DVD is a compilation of edited excerpts from a series of interviews with New Art Club (dance duo Pete Shenton and Tom Roden) on their creative process, whilst the accompanying booklet offers tasks and questions for inexperienced dance makers.
Aimed primarily at dance students starting out in higher education, both booklet and DVD are divided into sections including: Starting Up: Organisation; Rules and Expectations; Being Creative Collaboratively; Valuing Collaboration; Sustaining and Maintaining Collaboration. The intention is that the students listen to the interviews a couple of times and then use this to support specificity and precision in their responses to the booklet questions and tasks on their own experience of collaborative dance making.
The choice of interviewees prove excellent as both Shenton and Roden are generous in their responses and their engaging personalities came across strongly, just as they do in their unusual blend of dance and stand up comedy performances. As a newcomer to their work, the interviews immediately sparked curiosity, followed by a joyful period spent exploring archive clips on their website. The format of the DVD was unusual in that the interviewer was edited out with just printed questions appearing on screen prior to the responses. The advantage was that it eradicated the temptation for the interviewer to grandstand and it correlated with the booklet questions for students, but the pity was that openings for further probing questions in response to some of the more unusual views elicited were not followed up.
With the proviso that the resource be presented within a more rigorously researched context to enable students to access related articles, DVD recordings, internet resources and books, this is a useful addition to learning resources in dance. The questions in the accompanying booklet are important to address when working collaboratively and are so often skimmed over or ignored, thus threatening the success of the creative process. The tasks set could have been more practical to support interrogation of immediate practical experience and to emulate the lively samples of Shenton and Roden’s rehearsal process shown in the DVD. However, there were inventive approaches within the overall basic framework, such as the focus on how artists contribute to research and development when they are not working together. This tied in very neatly to one of the most interesting elements of the DVD, where Shenton and Roden spoke about their work beyond New Art Club and how a certain artistic independence contributed to their joint projects.
Dr Libby Worth
Senior Lecturer in Theatre Practice, Royal Holloway, University of London