I have always been a self-confessed academic and since forming my collective; Jack Philp Dance, in 2014, I have continued to explore and question this meeting point of study and studio. Our debut double bill tour; “TEST | CAPTURE” responds to a range of areas from neuroscience to physics and astronomy, combining them with dance and music. The first work on our bill; “Psychoacoustic” explores emotional states and the cognitive behaviour behind them. We know that theatre is an evocative tool, that it can make us laugh, cry, feel adoration and even fear-the discussion behind this work seeks to explore the key ingredients to illicit particular emotional states. Structured as an immersive work, the audience have the opportunity to share the performance space with the dancers and explore an empathetic environment which goads and changes its state of being. Created in tandem with the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit at City University, London, the research behind this work has continued to span the last 3 years, I see it as something of an evolving dialogue, which will shift and continue to grow in a range of ways. We are trying to create tools with science, so that we generate a body and space which can power a particular emotional response, continually testing our accuracy, continually developing ideas and continually refining our approach. The work has been met with consultation from neurologists from across the country and with a couple of major structural overhauls; this tour sees the first official outing of an evolving work. I suppose I am curious to see how this work actually behaves with a live audience. It’s a test after all.
The second work on our tour; “Lumen”, was created with academic professors at The School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. This one was a definite childhood indulgence for me, I remember having a toy as a child which was full of buttons and soundbites about planets, stars and the galaxies. Working with a body as a tool, and understanding how it ticks, has often lead me to question it’s context; it’s place in space and time, and ultimately how we relate to one another in that moment. I suppose that empathetic question mark drove the thinking behind the first work too. Here, we studied light as a starting point, using a star as our vehicle. We looked at how light is generated, different astrophysical environments that it encounters and also how we capture and study light once it reaches the earth. I was treated to a huge deal of learning from this work, having discussions about galaxies and parallel universes, laws of physics and the mathematics of it all. We wanted to capture the lifecycle of a star and respond to the mind bending images and facts about our universe in a physical and aural way. The real delight here for me was simply understanding how small we are in this vast space, and together with the other work I could explore the most intricately microscopic signals sent inside of our bodies, versus the most enormous reaches of our universe.
Both works behind this tour have provided me with such enriching collaboration, with academics, composers, performers and audiences. That for me was always a pilar in forming a choreographic engine that then became Jack Philp Dance. I have an ultimate drive with this collective to champion an athletic and physical response to academic thinking, in a bid to create challenging yet accessible work. I am hugely excited to be taking these works out for the first time and incredibly humbled by the support I have received to make it happen. From friends and family, individuals from the worlds of arts and sciences and of course the organisations and funders which make it possible on this scale. TEST | CAPTURE is supported by Arts Council of Wales, National Dance Company Wales, Venue Cymru, Cardiff University (The School of Physics and Astronomy), Rubicon Dance, City University London (Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit) and Dance Woking.
Lead academic consultants:
Psychoacoustic: Dr Beatriz Calvo-Merino Lumen: Professor Haley Gomez MBE
TEST | CAPTURE: Dance House at Wales Millennium Centre, Saturday, October 27