Interview: David Lloyd | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North-East dance organisation Dance City invites you to join them for the premiere of an exciting new digital work, The Solo Collective, on Thursday 27 August. The production was created by their post graduate company The Collective, who over an intense four week period have worked closely with MA Programme Leader David Lloyd and renowned choreographer Neville Campbell, as well as Physical Theatre companies Gecko and Lost Dog. The show is a series of original themes of identity, society and media in the current climate and will be accompanied by an introduction by David Lloyd and a post-show discussion with performers and contributing choreographers led by Dance City’s new Artistic Director and CEO Anand Bhatt. Tickets are free and available via their website.

We get the opportunity to talk to David Lloyd ahead of the performance to find out more about The Solo Collective and the circumstances that surround it…

How does it feel to be able to put on a show after lockdown? 
It’s strange, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s exciting to show how we can continue to build art and make work despite all of these restrictions that’s still accessible and brings audiences together. It’s really great that we can share this out in a free way to a much bigger audience that wouldn’t necessarily come into our building or even a theatre. The lockdown period has been tough and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, it’s really exciting to be able to present this work which has been a product of it.  

What can people expect from The Solo Collective? Can you tell us more about the post-show discussion? 
The project itself is a bit of an experiment. After having to cancel our national tour we had to re-address how we could make work and this something completely new to us. Over the course of four weeks, the company worked with four different choreographers, myself, Amit Lahav and Ryen Perkins Ganges of Gecko, Ben Duke of Lost Dog and Nev Campbell, who each worked remotely to help develop and shape a series of individual solo works. It was a very student led process in that the students had an idea that they wanted to explore and we were there to mentor and develop their ideas to realize a performance piece.  

The Solo Collective is basically a film that brings all of these solos together. It takes moments from every solo but refines them collectively into a story about this really strange journey of coming back as a dancer from six months of essentially not dancing. It looks at the stress and anxiety of coming back to the studio after months of isolation and the strange sensation of performing to an empty house.   

The post show talk will be between the Gecko team (Amit and Ryen) who both worked with the company for a period of time, myself and five of the performers from The Collective company.  It will be hosted by Dance City’s new Artistic Director and CEO Anand Bhatt. We’ll be discussing the creative process and experimentation behind the project and the realities of having to create a work remotely. I think the talk will also provide a lot of context of what it has really been to us.   

What styles of dancing have inspired the production? 
The MA Advanced Dance Performance course on which the company has been training for the last year is actually very varied with a heavy rotation of ballet and contemporary technique alongside its main remit of physical theatre. 

For this project in particular we really focused on the physical theatre realm in terms of the production and the style, within that though there’s everything from 70’s disco to tutting and waacking, it’s very varied.  

Has social distancing affected rehearsals? 
Social distancing massively affected the rehearsals. It seemed at many points that government guidance was changing every day so we were constantly having to change our plans to keep the project afloat. I think at the moment that is how we have to work with Covid. Lots of re-planning, re-structuring, re-shaping and re-understanding. But it has also shaped what the audience are going to see, which is kind of exciting.  

The arts have had to utilise technology to keep producing work during the lockdown, do you think that will continue once some level of normality returns? 
I think that the utilisation of technology has really allowed us to keep things moving in the arts. It’s proven to us as artists that we can continue to work and connect through online activity not just in the UK but across the world which is really exciting, and I hope this momentum continues. That said, I think a lot of artists are really missing space, missing the studio and being able to access this human connection on which our work relies. As a director and a choreographer that’s so important but there seems to be some kind of block when you’re working via Zoom.  

How long do you think it will be until indoor live performances are feasible/viable?  
I’m hopeful that this will be January or even December, it’s quite a tricky one because again it comes down to government guidelines which affects creation as well as performance. It’s sad that you can go to a pub and it’s pretty normal, people can sit together and don’t have to wear masks but we can’t sit together in a theatre. There’s something quite controversial about that that I think is being questioned. Essentially, I’m hoping we can come back next year, of course with social distancing and masks in place.  

Are there any more digital performances on the horizon? 
I really think what we’ve learnt under lockdown is this new way to create and promote theatre work to a much wider audience through digital means which I would definitely like to continue.  

It’s such a different experience to see a performance in person compared to seeing it on a screen but there’s so much more to discover and take forward from this period of lockdown especially in terms of technology. This anomaly in time has challenged us and equipped us with more possibilities and ideas that I hope will continue to be applied as we move back towards live performance. 

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