Feature: Recommended by... Anthony Bowne

Friday 28 May 2010

Anthony BownePhoto: Merlin Hendy

Professor Anthony Bowne has been director of Laban since 2003 and Joint Principal of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance since 2006. Now a member of the Government Dance Forum, he began his career as a theatre lighting designer working with dance companies including Adventures in Motion Pictures, Fin Walker and Rosemary Butcher. Lyndsey Winship found out what he’s looking forward to seeing in the next couple of months…

What excites me at the moment is that I’m seeing a lot of really good collaborations. The traditional approach was you had a choreographer, lighting designer, costume designer, and you all worked together but it wasn’t collaboration and 'Craneway Event' 2009.Film by Tacita Dean of Merce Cunningham Company in rehearsal. partnership in the way that’s happening now. It’s much more integrated now and most of the things I want to talk about are an example of that.

The first thing I’m excited about seeing is the Tacita Dean film, Craneway Event. She is known for making beautiful art films but for this she worked with Merce Cunningham, in 2008, not long before he died. The company were doing one of Cunningham’s Events in an old Ford building on San Francisco Bay and Tacita Dean went in for three days to film the rehearsal period and the film is, by all accounts, beautiful. It’s this big open space with full height windows overlooking the bay, with ships passing by during the filming and the light changing over the course of the three days.

!! Electric Hotel is something else that interests me a lot. It’s a site-specific piece and a really interesting collaboration between David Rosenberg from Shunt and choreographer Frauke Requardt. I know Frauke from her Cholmondeleys days, when I was practising as a lighting designer. I think she uses a lot of interesting visual imagery. My understanding of this piece is that we’re looking in on the lives of people, and even listening – I think the audience wear headphones and get to listen in. I think that’ll be really interesting.

Site specific work at Laban I have to mention the Laban graduate show. That’s another example of site-specific work. The third year students have at their disposal a very lovely stage in the Bonnie Bird Theatre, but I think probably more than 50% of our students now are choosing not to use it. Rather than go into the theatre for an hour and half to watch a succession of dances, the form now is that you wander round the building and at various times there are different events happening, some in the theatre, some in the studio, some under a staircase, some in a cubby hole you peer into. One of the things that’s delighting me is there isn’t a ‘theme’; I’m seeing a lot of individual voices. Many of them are not choosing to use the conventional proscenium arch to do their work, they’re working increasingly with artists from other forms, they’re integrating film and digital into their work lots more. I’m seeing a maturity as artists, which makes me very pleased.

Another one I think is going to be interesting is the Bernstein Mass at the Southbank in July. Jude Kelly is directing it. Dance is one element and some Laban dancers are going to be in it but there’s an orchestra, singers and community groups involved as well – a really large-scale fantastic event. It’s from 1971 – people were doing collaboration in the 70s but not a lot has progressed since. But as I said, I think there’s a fresh breeze blowing through at the moment and people are wanting to do these events again. I think Jude’s captured this willingness of people to come together in more unusual combinations, working together. I think it’s a really exciting time for the art.

Links: **”Craneway Event, Frith Street Gallery, until 23 June“:http://www.frithstreetgallery.com/
Electric Hotel, 2-19 June Laban Degree Show 2010, 26 & 29 June
Bernstein Mass, Southbank Centre, 10-11 July

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