19 – 22 May 2016: Kate Lawrence and Despina Goula teach vertical dance in Athens
27 April – 1 May 2016: Kate Lawrence and Despina Goula (VDKL) teach first vertical dance in Paklenica National Park, Croatia with Histeria Nova for Vertical Dance Forum.
Vertical dance is a term we use to describe a performance practice in which the performer is suspended above the ground, usually against a wall (which is used as a floor), using rock climbing equipment. You might hear it referred to as ‘harness work’ or ‘aerial dance’. We use the term ‘vertical’ to indicate the orientation of the surface that is used as a ‘floor’, be that a wall, handrail of a balcony or a rope.
In workshops, we teach harness techniques particular to vertical dance as well as setting creative tasks for participants to develop their own material. Technical exercises focus on understanding the effect of the ‘vertical floor’ on the body so that performers become more comfortable with a new spatial orientation. Having developed control of their orientation in still positions, participants are encouraged to work with the pendulum of the rope and to explore the possibilities of flight. More advanced workshops can work on partnering and developing extended sequences of material. Workshops are flexible and the specific needs and desires of participants shape their structure and direction. If there is time, and interest, video material and discussion can also be incorporated. A series of workshops can lead to a performance.
Ideally, vertical dance requires clear wall space with rigging points (1 ton capacity). This can be indoors or, weather permitting, outdoors. We often work with a rigger and we have rigged in a variety of situations using available structures. The best thing is to contact us and we can discuss options. We are able to provide all the equipment that is required and undertake risk assessments.
We employ qualified riggers for all our work. The company has public liability and employer insurance for all activities. Our equipment is of industry standards and is regularly inspected. The company rigger, Simon Edwards is able to answer any more specific questions.
Harnesses can be uncomfortable, especially for those not used to wearing them. Therefore it is important to have no exposed flesh around your waist and tops of legs and to wear a few layers to protect yourself. A leotard, or better still, a unitard (all-in–one) is perfect, with layers of jogging pants and t-shirts on top. Please also bring a pair of trainers with clean soles.
Professional Development: We believe in the importance of maintaining and improving our abilities and run regular training sessions (typically twice a week) in vertical dance for local dance artists at affordable rates. These take place at the Beacon Climbing Centre in Caernarfon and at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, where we are currently company in residence. We also run intensive training workshops, often with invited artists such as Lindsey Butcher (Gravity and Levity) and Wanda Moretti (Il Posto), which have been attended by participants from Australia, USA, Canada, Austria and Greece. Kate has been an invited artist at aerial dance festivals in France (LRDA ) and Brighton (EADF ).
Youth: We also teach workshops and courses for young people. For example, a commission from Theatr Genedlaethol in 2012 to work with young people in Caernarfon established a strong relationship with Cofis Bach and resulted in two further projects with the young people, funded by Gwynedd Youth Services and Sport Wales. The culmination of this work was a performance by the young people on the exterior of Galeri for the Baton Relay Celebrations in 2014, featured on BBC One Show. We are starting a project for young people at Venue Cymru shortly – watch this space!