Dansathon 2018: London winners announced

A dance project that aims to humanise technology, masterminded by team ‘Digital Umbilical’, was named as the London winner of Dansathon 2018; the first European Dance hackathon, taking place in three cities over three days. The project was created in response to the question ‘How can technology be soulful? and devised by Designer Salomé Bazin, Facilitator Laura Buffard, Developer Simon Haenggi, Communicator Katelyn Notman, Dancer Jon Rowe, Technician/Maker Adam Seid Tahir and Choreographer Renaud Wiser. They were awarded the Dansathon trophy by a jury panel which included leading dance-makers and industry figures at technology hub, Plexal, based in Stratford’s Here East.

Their idea centred on creating connections between strangers, and using the body’s senses in conjunction with new technologies to build a shared experience. In a collaboration between performer and audience member, both parties used wearable technology to interweave the breath of the dancer and the pulse of spectator into a unique soundscape. Through directly experiencing someone else’s physicality and emotional state, the human was kept at the heart of this technological experience.

Alistair Spalding, CEO and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells, said of Digital Umbilical’s project: “The jury members thought that this proposal had found a way that new technologies can enhance the empathy between performer and audience in a unique and intimate way, using these tools to bring people closer together as human beings.”

Over three days in three cities – London, Liège and Lyon – 90 participants developed new innovative projects to imagine the future of dance, with a particular focus on digital technologies. This was Europe’s first dance hackathon, where participants were invited to mix dance and technology to imagine new forms of art, new stages, new experiences and interactions.

The 35 London participants were selected from 168 applicants after an open call, with equal numbers having expertise in dance, choreography, creative technology, design, physical object making, media and communication, and facilitation.

A jury in each of the locations selected a winner, set to receive a grant of €10,000 from the BNP Paribas foundation and support from the respective host institution to help develop their idea – Sadler’s Wells in London, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, and Théâtre de Liège. London’s jury was formed of Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Wayne McGregor; BNP Paribas Foundation supported artists Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez; writer and speaker on digital innovation in the arts and cultural sector Bhavani Esapathi; UX (User Experience) designer and Afrotech Fest founder Florence Okoye; theatre writer Lyn Gardner; Chaniya-Rose Manning-Onolaja, a member of Legacy Youth Voice, helping to shape the future of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and create opportunities for young east Londoners; and Jane Ayaduray, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, BNP Paribas UK.

Our congratulations also go to Vibes… in Lyon and Cloud Dancing in Liège for their winning projects.

You can watch a video of the announcement below:

Dansathon is an initiative of Fondation BNP Paribas, in partnership with Maison de la Danse de Lyon, Sadler’s Wells and Théâtre de Liège.

Image: Andreea Tufescu

Crystal Pite to be honoured at 61st annual Dance Magazine Awards

We were thrilled to hear the news that Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Crystal Pite is to be honoured at Dance Magazine 61st Annual Awards for her “lasting impact on dance”.

The awards, which began in 1954, will be held in December at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in New York. Crystal’s contribution to choreography is being celebrated alongside the work of her peers Ronald K. Brown, Lourdes Lopez and Michael Trusnovec. CEO and Chairman of Dance Media Frederic Segal complimented a “stellar group of honourees”. Past recipients include Margot Fonteyn in 1963, Sir Frederick Ashton in 1970, William Forsythe in 2003 and Wayne McGregor in 2014.

Since establishing her company Kidd Pivot in 2002, Crystal’s work has become highly regarded for its blending of movement, original music, text and visual design into works that analyse the human condition with a distinctly eerie tone. She became Sadler’s Wells’ 16th Associate Artist in 2013.

In 2016 Sadler’s Wells co-produced Betroffenheit, a dance-theatre hybrid piece Crystal created with fellow Canadian actor and playwright Jonathon Young. It examined the psychological states of trauma, grief and addiction, and won the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2016. It returned to Sadler’s Wells for a sold-out run in 2017, where it was recorded and subsequently broadcast on BBC Four.

This year, Crystal choreographed two pieces that graced our stage – Solo Echo for Ballet British Columbia and The Statement for Nederlans Dans Theater’s NDT1, both of which emerged as critical favourites within their troupe’s respective mixed bills.

This will be the latest in a long line of awards and honours for Crystal. She is the personal recipient of the Banff Centre’s Clifford E. Lee Award, the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award, and the Isadora Award.