The Grief Project – A suitably non-linear path

(The Grief Project was commissioned by Norwich Theatre, as part of Creative Matters – Loss and Grief, supported by Rosedale Funeral Home.)

Embarking on a project themed around grief felt right when we were approached in 2019. After all haven’t we all been touched by grief? And if not, we all certainly will be in our lifetime. Laura and I have both had significant experiences of grief for multiple reasons. It’s a subject that we’ve chatted about throughout our friendship and are both intrigued by. However, it wasn’t until being approached by Norwich Theatre that we maybe felt brave enough to touch on this enormous subject, which, let’s face it, can be overdone, overearnest and cliched. But that was reason enough to want to try and do it differently.

So our approach was simple. All we wanted to do was to connect to our local community to find out what people’s experiences of grief were. We were interested in what the embodiment of grief is and what is the experience of grief in our body? What is it that words cannot say about grief, but that our body knows?

[image description: a blurred image of the face of a young white male with spots of light flares around him]

In 2020 we began interviews with some amazing people with varying stories of grief. From these collected stories we went into the studio with four dancers, the recorded interviews and an animator and decided to see what might happen when we translated these stories into our bodies. We were proposing to make an interactive theatre performance…

Then COVID.

Through all of this I should say that we did not approach this subject lightly. As I said, Laura and I have had significant experiences of grief. I even had a miscarriage just before we recorded the interviews. We knew that we needed support for ourselves and for the people we were working with. We wanted to lead the way in best practice when asking artists and participants to connect with grief, and we needed to take responsibility for how the process could potentially be triggering and leave people in a heightened state of emotional arousal. Steve Peck was our obvious choice to work with. Steve has worked with fellow choreographer Stuart Waters and Rambert dance school researching the impact of working methods on the health and wellbeing of dancers. Steve worked with us on the grief project as a psychotherapist as we developed our own practice of supporting our and our dancers health and wellbeing. Putting our humanness at the centre of our experience. A practice that grew from supporting our health before anything else. (more about that in another post!).

[image description: a dancer’s hands appear to delicately reach for light spots in the space above her]

During lockdown we continued to connect with our dancers. The methods we had been trialling with Steve and as a company continued to serve us even though we could not physically be together we continued to connect to each other and tend to our own emotional needs. Eventually as we started to emerge from the cocoon we had naturally created for ourselves and our families, it became apparent that we needed to make a film. We had already recorded the interviews with our film maker John. The medium of film was still available to us when so much appeared to be off limits. But it was completely new territory for us. So, we had to approach it the way we would any of our projects. Underpinned by all of our values, the film needed to be a co-creation that sensitively shared the voices of our community.

The result is a film combining stories, spoken word, movement and animation. It is beyond what we imagined it might be. A true collaboration from all involved. We’re not even sure it fits a particular genre; a merging of the worlds of filmic storytelling, honest and remarkable interviews and contemporary physical embodiment. Above everything we hope that The Grief Project film touches people in a unique way to them and their experiences of grief. That it might help open a conversation about grief with someone. We hope that the stories are stories of hope and strength. We hope that the movement offers a part of grief that words cannot express.

[image description: a young white dancer stands in a studio in low light, looking into the distance with one arm raised]

Is this the end of The Grief Project? No. This is only the beginning. The most important part of the grief project was discovering that people need a platform to share their grief. To connect to others through grief. So, it has to continue. We’re excited to discover what form the future of the grief project will take. Who will be involved and how?

If you have an interesting story of grief you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at glasshousedance@outlook.com

Written by co-director Sarah Lewis

An introduction to Wild Wander

Wild Wander started with two very simple questions: What do we like to do? and What do we need?

These questions probably arose whilst we were touring in 2019. Very often Sarah Lewis (fellow co-director of Glass House Dance) and I have many hours to chat whilst we are touring our show Time Machine Disco. Sat in the van for hours, or in-between shows in a tent refuelling, our imagination is allowed play, picturing what might be next for us. It is something I have missed with last years summer of Covid restrictions and cancelled festivals. Perhaps it is all the dancing, or meeting lots of people, or simply because it is full of joy and play but touring really does allow time for Sarah and I to get creative.

The answer to What do we like to do? and What do we need? was walking, connection to nature and connection to other humans. It was clear and simple. Both Sarah and I spend a lot of time outdoors both for work and pleasure. Walking is a way for us to clear our heads and allow creativity to flow. Sometimes we walk together but more often on our own or with family. We have built a reputation for making work in outdoor settings. Sometimes working with specific communities or making work for street festivals. With our participatory work we have used the natural world as a source of inspiration, but to date we have not made a performance piece about our landscape. But we want to, and this was another driving factor in the creation of Wild Wander….it’s time for us to look at our natural environment and our connection to it.

We conceived and planned Wild Wander through 2019 and applied to Arts Council England for support in early 2020. Then, well…. you know what happened. Everything went on hold. Originally the plan was to meet with a group of artists and walk, meeting up 3 times over a year. A group of artists from various disciplines who would nurture, spark and support each other.

It was clear to us that the aims of the project were still if not more relevant in a Covid-19 world and so we set to reshaping the project for these new times. We narrowed the time frame, reducing the project to 3 months, with the walks happening in October, November and December 2020. We felt people were needing the structure and close connection that a more focused period could give. Many of us have lost work during this time. Originally it was planned to be over a year to fit around busy work schedules and project commitments. That didn’t seem so relevant now. What was important, was that everyone felt supported and that the group could enable each other to be artists again.

On reflection I can’t think of a better time for Wild Wander to happen. As the end of the year was getting closer and the days were getting shorter we were giving space for some introspection. As the natural world began to quieten we went inwards through walking outside. Giving ourselves time to reflect on our own artistic practice and ask that question again What do I need? And perhaps What do I want?

Winter is a time for gathering around fires and telling stories. This was our equivalent. Grouping in a socially distanced way to see, hear and feel. Winter gives us time to prepare before going back out in to the world and the light. A time of healing and working on ourselves rather than doing stuff Out There. By listening to the rhythm of nature I hope that Wild Wander did this for the group (from feedback it seems it has). Usually we don’t have this time. We keep up the pace, keep regular time. Even through winter, hours of work rarely change. Wild Wander felt very precious at this unusual time, and although I don’t want this pandemic to continue and I am deeply saddened by the loss of life, it has made us reflect on where we are going. A pause. And I am grateful for that.

This third lockdown has felt more appropriate to the season, a deliberate slowing down. It felt such a contrast last Spring when we would normally be emerging and doing more. We are now getting our first glimpses of the light and spring returning. Hopefully soon there will be a gradual emerging and waking up from our lockdown slumber. And perhaps Wild Wander has played a part in preparing us for that.

Wild Wander is an artist development programme created by Glass House Dance and funded and supported by Arts Council England, Dance East and Norwich Arts Centre.

Written by Laura McGill, Co-Director of Glass House Dance

Wild Wander – Artist Call Out

Glass House Dance are inviting up to 8 artists to join their new artist development programme Wild Wander.

Wild Wander delves into the human need for connection and meaningful experiences using walking, art and the environment for artists.

Wild Wander will be an experience for artists to have the space to question, experiment and nurture their own creative practice in relation to others during and post Covid19. Walking helps to propel creativity and conversations. The wandering allows creative flow to flourish and innovation to thrive.

Artists will be invited to 3 meet ups to walk in October, November and December 2020. Each meeting will take place in a different landscape with a theme hosted by a provocateur to provoke conversation, reflection and visioning for new practices and projects.

The provocateurs

Mike Challis, Sound Maker (October 18th): Mike lives and works in Suffolk and is a freelance sound artist, maker and educator who utilises technology to enable sound composition in a variety of situations, often installation based. He makes SoundHides which encapsulate the sounds of an environment throughout the seasons.

Rosemary Lee Choreographer (November 28th): Known for working in a variety of contexts and media, Rosemary creates large-scale site-specific works with cross-generational casts, solos for herself and other performers, video installations and short films. Her work is characterised by an interest in creating a moving portraiture of the performing individuals and communities she brings together, whilst also exploring and highlighting our relationship with our environment.

Mark Cocker, Author (December 9th) Mark is an author of creative non-fiction, as well as a naturalist and environmental tutor. He writes and broadcasts on nature and wildlife in a variety of national media. In 2018 he completed 30 years as a country diarist for The Guardian and Guardian Weekly and has written over 1,000 articles for both papers. His 12 books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir.

This project fulfils a need to support artists wherever they are in their career, to continue to challenge, source new inspiration, connect and collaborate with artists from other art forms in order to continue making exciting, relevant work that pushes boundaries and perceptions.

The values of the project are:

*Valuing artists as change makers and connective forces in communities
*Connection through sharing in a compassionate and open environment
*Movement and nature being the foundation to inspire and create
*The vision for developing artistic practice, creating work that is rooted in human connection and our environment

The above is to achieve:

*Valuable thinking time for artists to develop projects and performances that are relevant in a present & post Covid world.
*A peer supported group of artists to get through challenging times and to make innovative art with.
*Art that responds to place, the natural environment and to create work that provokes and adapts to developing emergencies and communities needs.

Commitment

Artists will receive a fee of £200 for each meet up plus travel expenses. As part of your involvement in the project artists will contribute 1 hour conversation with Laura and Sarah towards a new podcast about their experience of Wild Wander. In addition to the walks artists will meet via Zoom between meet ups to reflect keep momentum.

Who is it for?

*Artists based in Norfolk and Suffolk
*Artists from a range of practices and disciplines (incl dance, theatre, music, visual art)
*Artists who create innovative art and engage with their community in some way
*Artists with a personal or professional interest in nature and walking
*Artists who resonate with the values of the project.
*We will be looking to support artists who are in the early and mid-stages of their careers.
*We encourage applications from under-represented artists within Norfolk.

Application Process

Artists are asked to submit an expression of interest (either written or video recording) to include:

*Description of your work and artistic discipline
*Where you are in your artistic journey including how long you have been working, current area of interest and the impact of Covid-19 on your artistic practice.
*Why you would like to be part of this project
*What your interest in nature and walking is.
*How you would be nurtured by the experience and what you would offer the group
*Links to work

We are committed to making our work accessible and diverse. We will not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, disability or sexual orientation.

About Glass House Dance

Visionary, Challenging, Passionate & Poignant…

Glass House Dance was set up by Sarah Lewis and Laura McGill to take contemporary dance into the heart of the community. They create essentially human, touching dance pieces with wide appeal for performance in public spaces.

Glass House Dance offers opportunity. People of all ages are invited to experience dance, working with professionals in a process of intergenerational collaboration, exploration and play. It is a shared route, a journey to celebrate the commonality of being human.

For more info visit: glasshousedance.co.uk


Covid-19 measures

A full risk assessment of the project has been carried out. These will be sent out to participants prior to the start of the project. This project will respond to changes in government guidelines as and when they happen.

Please submit by Friday 2nd October 5pm to glasshousedance@outlook.com

Please use the subject heading: Wild Wander Application

Please make sure you have included: the expression of interest, links to your work and contact details.

This project is funded and supported by:

We are recruiting!

Glass House Dance are looking for an experienced Tour booker, photographer, graphic designer and film maker to work with on their current and future touring shows.

Based in Norwich, Norfolk, Glass House Dance was set up by Sarah Lewis and Laura McGill to take contemporary dance into the heart of the community. We create essentially human, affective and visceral dance pieces with wide appeal for performance in public spaces. Glass House Dance work with highly experienced and engaging performers, specialising in outdoor and participatory work.

Tour booker:

We are looking for an experienced tour booker in the outdoor arts sector to book a tour in 2020-2021 for our show Time Machine Disco https://www.glasshousedance.co.uk/Time_Machine_Disco

We also have opportunities to work with the company on two other shows, one indoor participatory show for families and one outdoor show in development.

Photographer:

We are looking for a friendly, confident photographer, preferably with experience of shooting dance, performance or action shots to shoot current Glass House Dance classes and activities.

Graphic designer:

We are looking for a creative designer who can support Glass House Dance in creating visually interesting production packs, presenting information clearly and concisely for our touring shows.

Film Maker:

We are looking for a film maker to make a promo film for our work with people living with dementia and their carers. We have several workshops coming up in dance studios and libraries that we would like capturing to create a short, captivating film showing an inside into the process and uniqueness of Glass House Dance activities.

These positions are funded by the European Regional Development Fund, with immediate start.

To register your interest, please email Laura and Sarah at glasshousedance@outlook.com with your CV, cover letter outlining your most relevant experience and your ideal day rate. Please state ‘Glass House Dance tour booker’ as the subject heading. We look forward to hearing from you!

Closing date for applications: 12th April 2019

We are recruiting!

Audition: 18th April 10-5 London

Glass House Dance are recruiting performers for 2 projects.

1.’Us’: A surreal and comic dance theatre performance for the street.

We are looking for a second cast to tour nationally. There are two possible performances this year (June 17th & September 30th). There may be more dates tbc.

We require a male & female dancer with strong partnering skills. Must be comfortable with character work. Experience working in outdoor environments and close audience interaction preferable.

Before applying please watch the following links to the work: http://glasshousedance.co.uk/Us

There will be 3 days of rehearsals in Norwich. Pay will be be above equity rates. Expenses will be covered.

2. New Commission

Glass House Dance are working on a new commission based on a short story. We are looking for 1 male and 1 female with strong character experience.

Character Descriptions:

Male: Intimidating, weathered, he has a dark secret. Socially awkward and a loner. He is an intense character.

Female: Prim, cold, barely polite, threatened but trying to hide it.

There will be 5 days of R&D in Norwich which will take place either w/c 1/5/17 or 8/5/17. Pay for rehearsals will be in-line with equity rates. There are 3 confirmed performances in Norwich. 17th & 18th May and 20th June. Pay for performances will be £150 per performance. Expenses during rehearsals and performances will be covered.
Glass House Dance works closely with performers in a playful devising process. We are interested in performers who feel they can bring something to these roles. Anyone applying must be available for all dates mentioned.

Please send a c.v. and covering letter with links to showreels or performance work to:

glasshousedance@outlook.com

Please use AUDITION as the subject heading.

Deadline for applications is Wednesday 5th April

Successful applicants will be notified by 11th April.

Aviva Community Fund

Sharing a physical space and dancing with another human is a profound and touching experience. Dance exists in the moment and enables people to be fully present in a world which often forces us out of it. GlassHouse provides opportunities for everyone to delight in these experiences.

 

We are applying to the Aviva Community Fund to support our education workshops and we need votes!

This fund will host 8 monthly participatory dance workshops across Norfolk, including rural areas, in 2017 and an additional 3 day summer school under the title “Inside Glass House”.

“Inside Glass House” has an artistic focus, drawing from Laura and Sarah’s experience and approach to making dances. The average age of attendees of Glass House Dance workshops is between 30-84 years and in 2017, with the support of this funding, these workshops will encourage people to be active and participate in these events by being able to offer a reduced fee or free attendance to anyone on a low wage or retired and to widely publicise the workshops.

These workshops are all about inclusivity. They are about multiple generations moving and dancing together rather than exclusivity for an age bracket. The benefits of generations moving together for social inclusion and self efficacy are vast and vital.

These dance workshops will take place in dance studios, village and community halls around Norfolk and may include outdoor elements. They are an opportunity for participants to move their bodies, be playful and experimental in a fun and social environment.

Funding these workshops over a year will create a community of participants from all over Norfolk that will make the workshops self sustaining in the future. Over the year, the aim is to build a community of dancers that can continue to grow and may even turn into a company.

Please help us by voting. Follow the link below to cast your votes. Thank you.

https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-2283

 

 

 

Show time again!

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A busy few days coming up for GlassHouse. If you haven’t seen ‘Us’ yet we hope to catch you at one of the performances below. Feel the love people!

Thursday 30th June – Head Out Not Home, Norwich

Chapelfield Plain – 17:10, 18:20, 19:20

Saturday 2nd July – Harwich Festival, Harwich

Mayflower Project 1.10

Ha’penny pier 2.10 & 3.10

Saturday – Lord Mayors Celebrations, Norwich

Brigg Street – 6.40, 7.30 & 9.40

Us at NNF16

Us - GlassHouse - JMA Photography-102

We are bringing our new show ‘Us’ to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival on Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd May.

Us is a surreal and comic dance theatre performance for the street.

A re-telling of the classic ‘boy-meets-girl’.
The boy, Luke, is a notoriously flirtatious, young at heart, Luke Skywalker wannabe, but it’s complicated.
The girl, KJ, is attention seeking, a helpless romantic, and has a love for the music of Kate Bush.
Luke and KJ meet on a very ordinary day, but their meeting is anything but…

Watch their story unfold from nervous beginnings to eventually falling in love. This comic and touching dance performance reveals the trials and tribulations of young love. Will they make It work? What happens next? The audience help them decide; should they stick it out or go their separate ways?

Expect laughter and audience participation.

Saturday 21st
Gentleman’s Walk, 11 – 11.20am
Chapelfield Gardens, 1 – 1.20pm & 3.45 – 4.05pm

Sunday 22nd
Gentleman’s Walk 11 – 11.20am
Chapelfield Gardens, 1 – 1.20pm & 2.30 – 2.50pm

This is being performed as part of The Garden Party:
http://www.nnfestival.org.uk/festival/dance/the-garden-party5

Gaelin’s thoughts on A Little Bit of Light

‘A little bit of light’ – the title perfectly sums up my experience as a performer in this piece.

As we arrived each day of the tour at a new venue, ranging from residential care homes, leisure centres and hospitals, there was always a sense of going into the unknown. Each setting had its own particular routines, support systems and of course the most important variant; audience members that displayed a fantastic array of characters and personalities that I am privileged to have encountered.

A Little Bit Of Light-39

We would often meet the audience informally before beginning, usually over a cup of tea, a bonding ritual not to be overlooked! I don’t know what life is like day to day having a degenerative illness such as dementia, that many of our audience were living with. I only could get a sense of what they might be feeling in the moment of our meeting.

I would often think there is no way to know what a difference we can really make to people’s experience of life, from just the one hour we had with them. The equal playfulness and intimacy of the piece, provoked laughter, encouraged sensitivity, and inspired childlike wonder. We would transform a familiar space into something completely new. However fleeting this offering of lightness might seem in the grand scale of things, surely every interaction within all the moments that makes up a life must count.

A Little Bit Of Light-61

On the first day of the research process, the directors of GlassHouse, Laura and Sarah expressed the desire to make a happy dance. This concept might seem simple but if you really delve deeply into what it might mean to communicate a little bit of light the implications are profound. GlassHouse expertly crafted a piece that made it impossible not to smile, for performers and audiences alike.

A Little Bit Of Light-72

Luke’s thoughts on ‘Us’

Us - GlassHouse - JMA Photography-43

Where to begin, hmmm let me start with three words that I feel best describe my experience with GlassHouse:

HILARIOUS, GROUNDBREAKING, EXPERIMENTAL.

I have recently been working with Sarah and Laura on their new project ‘Us’ a new addition to the existing work ‘You, Me & Everybody Else’ which I too had the honour to be involved with. I have had the privilege to work alongside colleague and friend KJ Mortimer, a super talented dance artist who I share the studio, stage and street with. My partner in crime so to speak. Not to mention being guided, nurtured and supported by both Sarah and Laura, two amazing women with vision, drive and charisma whom I have learnt an abundance of new skills from.

.Us - GlassHouse - JMA Photography-5

Ok, so I am going to start by talking about the uncanny line up of events that went hand in hand with the latest research period.

Word: Serendipity
Definition: The fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance (Cambridge English Dictionary)

Serendipity is the word I will use to describe the week. In all of its glory it was there shining in lights. There is not enough sparkle hands to describe how apparent this word was.

One task that was given during the process was to act out fantastical ideas, games and scenarios. Of course me being the big child that I am I took to this like a duck to water (Oh my ducks, that’s another story. Ill get back to that later.) KJ and I ripped up small bits of paper and wrote down scenarios or powers for one another to act out. I choose “dragon slaying” as one of my fantasy roles, who dosen’t want to be a dragon slayer? As you can imagine the studio quickly transformed into a cave, with bats, fire-breathing beasts and me running around pretending to spit flames and singe KJ’s eyebrows off. After the day had finished and we were making our way back to the car, it dawned on us that Norwich is currently being taken over by Dragon statues. Dragons here, there and everywhere. My mind was blow. I took it as a sign, that we were on to good things.

I move forward with the incidents. All four of us were having a beautiful ciabatta from House (cafe around the corner) when Sarah shrieks from across the table, frantically rushing for her mobile phone.  There on a shelf stood solemnly by itself was a dice. The dice was not covered with dots amounting to six, no no no, that would have been too ordinary. This dice had letters on its faces. Miraculously there was a U and a S and the way the dice was positioned is spelt US. Not everyday you find a dice with no dots and the letters U and S. Serendipity strikes again.

It doesn’t stop there. After discovering that Sarah has a drop down projector screen I could not let this go to waste. Movie night happened. Whilst in the library sifting through DVD after DVD, for some reason I glance around the shelfs and there, staring at me in the face was a book titled ‘US’. Mind blown round 2. Out of intrigue I picked up the book and wanted to know what it was about. It was about a love story between a boy and girl, similar to the work me and KJ where investigating. Magic. I now believe in magic.

Us - GlassHouse - JMA Photography-70

Lastly, during the fantasy role play, Star Wars came up. Light sabre fights and Luke Skywalker (that’s me obviously) had to teach princess KJ how light sabres work and sound. I got heavily involved with this task and annoyed at how she didn’t know how they sounded or had even seen the film. Mind blown 3 but for a different reason. Anyway back to serendipity. I found myself in the shop LUSH, a shop which I never ever go to or find myself having the need to go to. There I was in LUSH basking in the perfumed filled air and I feel a tap on the back of my right calve. I didn’t turn around straight away as I thought it may have been the wheel of a pram or an accident, until it happened again but with more force. Naturally I turned around and I was again jaw dropped at what I saw. A small boy playing with a plastic light sabre from Star Wars. Floored. Mind Blown 4

Thank you so much for a fantastic week and I can’t wait for the future… Oh and the ducks, I witnessed ducks walking in a line. A perfect line. Amazing xxxx