Students work with English National Ballet and Tate Liverpool

Collaborative partnerships create unique opportunities

Liverpool John Moores University

LJMU has a unique relationship with Liverpool’s cultural giants, creating unrivalled opportunities for students. Through collaborative partnerships with leading arts and cultural organisations, students are able to carry out work-based learning and develop and create research, as well as receiving free entry to many exhibitions.

The latest opportunity for students came about thanks to the University’s established partnerships with English National Ballet and Tate Liverpool.

English National Ballet undertook a residency at Tate Liverpool entitled The Dance Within Us, coinciding with its forthcoming award-winning production of Le Corsaire at Liverpool Empire. Inspired by the Tate exhibition An Imagined Museum, the residency led to School of Art and Design students participating in a day-long drawing workshop; capturing imagery of the company’s rehearsals, and Dance Practices students performing at the Press View of the exhibition.

Their performance, Spazio Perforate (Perforated Space) 2015, was choreographed in response to Lucio Fontana’s, Spatial Concept 1949-50 on display at An Imagined Museum.

Spatial Concept sees Fontana create a series of holes (or buchi) through the canvas. At its simplest, this can be seen as marking the movement of the artist’s hand. However, the puncturing ensured that Fontana literally cut between the space occupied by the viewer, through the surface of the canvas, to the space that lies beyond. The dance, choreographed by the students in collaboration with Darren Carr, Programme Leader for Dance Practices, explored pathways, with the dancers traversing across the space from viewer’s right to left. Like Fontana’s original work the movement and the ‘islands’, where the dancers pause, echo the artist’s hand moving across the canvas. Frames through the dancers’ limbs and body parts created the ‘buchi’ as a representation of the space that lies beyond.

The Level 5 students performers were Holly Brown, Hayley Browne, Paris Braithwaite-Hamilton, Monique Chambers, Darren Essery, Rosie Hall, Keira Jones, Hollie Myles, Rebecca Orme, Emma Saville, Jessica Whittaker and Stephanie Wiggins. The music was composed by Senior Lecturer Bernard Pierre-Louis, and the projected animation was created by Technician Noel Jones. LJMU journalism / Liverpool Screen School students Alexander Duncan and Astra Armitt were also involved in the film’s production.  

Student Jessica Whitaker commented: “When we performed the dance we were thinking of ourselves as being the puncture holes, immersing our bodies in the space created by the puncture. The project has been so much fun and being able to perform the dance in a public space enables us to take our work outside the dance studio, so that the public can reflect on our work as well as ourselves. To be able to perform somewhere as prestigious as Tate Liverpool is a brilliant opportunity.”

Darren added: “Building collaborative partnerships with organisations is vital to any dance artist’s education. It was with great pride that I was able to witness how such a reciprocal mode of working enabled the students to further contextualise learning and understanding of pedagogy, through knowledge transfer and placement practice. Their Performance in Context module embraced the Tate’s vision, that we should ‘take an artwork to our heart’ by responding to Lucio Fontana’s Spatial Concept 1949–50 with their own dance work entitled ‘Perforated Space.’  In the New Year the students will be passing on this experience on to a host of pupils in schools across Merseyside, before returning to the Tate to present a ‘live memory’ of the work, which will by then have been removed.”

In addition to the opportunities for students, as part of English National Ballet’s residency at Tate Liverpool, LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill chaired a special debate entitled The Unstoppable Life of Artworks in the Matisse in Focus display, part of An Imagined Museum. Alongside Professor Weatherill, the panel consisted of Tamara Rojo (Artistic Director, English National Ballet), Francesco Manacorda (Artistic Director, Tate Liverpool) and Gemma Bodinetz (Artistic Director, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse) who discussed interpreting works for new generations.

LJMU students and staff will also have the opportunity to participate in the closing weekend of the Imagined Museum

More information about An Imagined Museum is available online 

Tate Dance - LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill with English National Ballet 

Tate Dance - LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill with English National Ballet
Tate Dance - LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill with English National Ballet
Tate Dance - LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill with English National Ballet


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