Interview: Lucy Bennett Q&A

Wednesday 17 November 2010

StopGAP's Lucy Bennett As well as dancing with the company, Lucy Bennett is also Assistant Artistic Director of the pioneering integrated dance company StopGAP, who arrive at The Place this Saturday (20 Nov) with a double bill of new work. Last year she also choreographed Tracking, a large scale outdoor work for the company. ***So what makes her tick and keeps her dancing?*

How did you first get into dance? **My dad had a huge collection of Vinyl LPs that I loved to dance to and create performances to. I often involved my siblings and cousins in my extravaganzas. Eventually my Auntie Cath told my parents it would be cruel if they didn’t enrol me in the local ballet classes.

Do you remember the first dance performance you saw? **I was a massive fan of the film musicals of the fifties and sixties, and twice a year my parents took me to see the local amateur dramatics. I believe my first memories of dance besides the Hollywood musicals would have been Elton John’s music video_ “I’m still Standing”_. I was fascinated by the colours, expressive energy and musicality of the dancers.

What lead you into working on integrated dance projects? **After training in musical theatre it was incredibly difficult to get involved with any contemporary dance companies. I had met Maxine Doyle (of Punch Drunk) whilst in my third year at Bird College. Out of the blue Maxine got in contact with me and recommended that I audition for StopGAP Dance Company. She had been commissioned to choreograph *Rough and Tumble* on StopGAP and was convinced my performance style and personality would fit in with this very individual company. This was my first experience of integrated dance work and ever since StopGAP’s artistic practice has greatly influenced my working philosophy and creative process.

StopGAP is the only professional company that works with dancers with disabilities of all kinds (learning and physical) as well as with non-disabled dancers. What are the particular challenges of this sort of work? **StopGAP is involved in many different areas of integrated work and each avenue presents a different challenge. I think the greatest challenge for a dancer working in this field is patience. Our particular integrated processes need time and wisdom, which comes with experience. When working with different bodies and different ways of learning you have to be open minded and instinctive and always remind yourself you can never know everything, because integrated dance is constantly evolving.
- And the pleasures?

  • A career in dance can often be too self reflective and too much about what you can’t achieve. Working within the integrated dance scene can be an incredibly healing experience. Individuality is championed and teamwork is essential in creating our new dance works. If you ask anyone in StopGAP “ What would they have been if not a dancer?” Their replies will be “Explorer”, “Adventurer” or even “Bear Grylls!” I am incredibly lucky to be working within such a strong team of determined, adventurous risk takers. You can never predict where we are going to take integrated dance next.

Lucy Bennett in 'Within' choreographed by Thomas Noone for StopGAPPhoto: Hugo Glendinning Tell usabout Trespass – the double bill of work StopGAP bring to The Place this Saturday (20 November)
Within [photo left, Lucy with Chris Pavla] was choreographed by Thomas Noone. Thomas is renowned for his full, earthy movement material and relentlessly fierce partner work. He was incredibly prescriptive throughout the process which was an unusual way for StopGAP to work. But Thomas’ thorough practice of detail was an excellent grounding for Chris, our dancer with Down’s Syndrome, and has resulted in a slick work of dance.
Splinter was created collectively by director Rob Tannion, composer Jim Pinchen, artistic director Vicki Balaam and the dancers. This interesting process resulted in a surprising slideshow of humour, emotion and drama that has truly pushed StopGAP’s integrated dance practice further.

Tracking, your ‘Inspired by 2012’ project, was a large scale outdoor work for Southbank Centre which went on to tour festivals around the country. Will you be building on this kind of work? **We are hoping to keep Tracking within the rep until 2012. In the meantime we are beginning research for our next outdoor offering. As in Tracking, we will be working with Dave Toole again and creating an imaginative, curious and colourful work of Street Arts.

As a dancer, who would be your dream choreographer to work with? **As a young dancer I loved Twyla Tharp but currently I am really inspired by Akram Khan’s and Sidi Larbi’s constantly evolving choreographic practice.

Who/what have influenced you in dance? **When I was first introduced to the work of Lloyd Newson and DV8 I knew I wanted to be involved in Dance Theatre. Of course my colleagues Dave Toole, Laura Jones, Chris Pavia, Dan Watson, Sophie Brown, David Willdridge and Vicki Balaam will always be a great influence.

What’s your favourite film?
Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her
And book?
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and any Steven Berkoff scripts.
And music?
Arcade Fire, Elvis and classical guitar.

What’s next for you – and for StopGAP? **Holidays!!

StopGAP, 20 Nov, The Place. Photo: Hugo Glendinning See StopGAP at The Place,
Saturday, 20 November, 8pm
£6 – £17 **”more details/online booking“:http://www.theplace.org.uk/6566/whats-on/stopgap.html%20

Photos: Hugo Glendinning.
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Report: November 2010

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