the role of the artist

Skills Exchange Day 1

Holding the space

Danielle Teale

Danielle Teale is the initiator of the Artists' Exchange Programme.

To begin the Skills' Exchange, I delivered a workshop which illuminated some of the concepts and thoughts that have led to this week. Most importantly, to highlight the different roles that are held by the artist in a creative situation, and how and why these roles are important.

By taking away the leadership figure, I set up a workshop environment in which boundaryless play could evolve, and the dancers were free to interpret their environment as they choose. The resources, the space, the music, the text based instructions and the other bodys in the space were available as markers to hold the space and provide inspiration but fundamentally the creative interpretation of the dancers was unstructured and unguided.


The workshop generated conversations with the following threads:

  • The impact of the resources we draw on - the sense of choice and freedom with lots of options, versus the feeling of being lost in endless possibility and the overstimulation of choice leading to an obsession with finding order
  • The use of the voice or lack of voice, the tone of voice and sound, as well as the actual language we use, all have an impact on the way instruction is received
  • How we set up the space - not just setting up the tasks and content of the session, but the work that goes on before we enter the room, and the positioning of ourselves in the space, determines how we represent ourselves in the process and our position of power as a leader
  • The value of unstructured play as a way to overcome the need for outcome focused work
  • The value of structure as a way to consolidate learning 

The closing thoughts of the group were centred around the notion of holding the space. 'Letting the party happen' involves us as artists 'hosting' the space, reading what is happening, making choices based on what is working, and choosing where to go next. This involves a combination of structured safety and unstructured freedom which can be easily interchangeable.