UCLan commissioned to produce film shining spotlight on choreography and disability
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been commissioned by BBC Arts and One Dance UK to produce a short film showcasing alternative forms of choreography and choreographers with disabilities.
The five-minute film, entitled Freedom, will shine a spotlight on the creativity, resourcefulness, and talent in UK dance by demonstrating a unique choreography process led by Lisa Simpson, a successful choreographer who has non-verbal Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy.
It will follow Lisa and UCLanDance students as they learn how to use a Simpson Board, a flexible A3 sized laminated board covered in the words, diagrams and symbols needed to create a dance, and become effective translators in order to communicate effectively with Simpson Board users.
"I want to show how I am able to create dance through the use of the Simpson board and make dance accessible to everyone."— Choreographer Lisa Simpson
The project aims to highlight individual capabilities, despite perceived limitations, and to prompt conversations around this topic. The film will include live performance, intercut with documentary footage that will give an insight into the creative process with behind the scenes access.
Lisa Simpson, who is also a Leader in Residence at UCLan, said: “I want to show how I am able to create dance through the use of the Simpson board and make dance accessible to everyone. This film will enable me to show my practice to people outside of the dance world in a way that is easy to understand.
“Being able to mentor students is so important to me as it helps me build relationships with future artists and show them another area of dance that they would never have considered. I am already benefitting from this in my work with graduates I have guided in the past who are now professional artists. They already have the knowledge of how I work in place and this trend will only continue as I mentor other future professionals.”
"This is a fantastic opportunity for UCLanDance students to develop skills that will make them hugely employable."— Lucy Nicholson, Co-Course Leader for BA (Hons) Dance at UCLan
Lucy Nicholson, Co-Course Leader for BA (Hons) Dance at UCLan, said: “This video will be a visual story of Lisa’s very own way of working and how she creates high-quality pieces of choreography. This is a fantastic opportunity for UCLanDance students to develop skills that will make them hugely employable.
“The course is built around developing independent dance artists who are as skilled teaching in a community setting as they are taking part in a touring performance. This unique project fits perfectly with our ethos.”
Dance students Chloe Morrisey and Lauren Wyatt have been learning to translate Lisa’s choreography through the Simpson Board as part of the project.
Chloe said: “It’s a completely new experience for us but we’ve learned quickly how to interpret what Lisa is saying. I’m very interested in making dance more inclusive and the skills I’m learning during this project will be important in my future career.”
Four film production students from the University are also working on the project, mentored by professional theatre and film director Jonny Randall.
"I’m very interested in making dance more inclusive and the skills I’m learning during this project will be important in my future career."— Dance students Chloe Morrisey
Jonny is equipping the UCLan film students with tools for visual storytelling, through cinematography, composition of shots and editing. A key focus is teaching the students how to convey a narrative within documentary through a purely visual sequence.
Jonny said: “Hopefully this will be a great opportunity for UCLan’s students to apply filmmaking skills that they’ve gained from the course and develop them within a professional freelance context.
“I’m excited to collaborate with the crew as we tell the story of Lisa’s experience and approach to devising dance. Having the film showcased on a high-profile platform like the BBC is an immense honour.”
Film production student Callum Guilmour is working as a sound engineer on the film. He said: “We’re all learning a lot from Jonny and he is really open to taking on our ideas. To work on a professional production with backing from the BBC is a fantastic opportunity.”
The £5,000 production is scheduled for completion in early January.