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.


listening, trusting, playing

Skills Exchange Day 1

Today we began the AEP Skills Exchange featuring Danielle Teale, Tim Casson, Clare Reynolds, Tom Hobden, Sarah Lewis, Katie Green, Rachel Fullegar, Lizz Fort, Jo Rhodes, Beth Peters, Hannah Robertshaw and Laura Street. 

Play, connection, trust and listening

Hannah Robertshaw and Tim Casson

Tim headshot.jpeg

Tim is a Performer, Choreographer and Dance Educator. He has performed internationally and taught extensively for Jasmin Vardimon Company, creating their JV2 postgraduate programme, and has also performed for Nigel Charnock and Ben Wright. Tim regularly leads educational projects for a wide range of dance organisations, such as Sadler’s Wells, where he has worked extensively with the National Youth Dance Company. Tim has previously held Associate Artist positions at Pavilion Dance South West and dancedigital (UK), created the World Record Breaking online performance project, ‘The Dance WE Made’ and directs his company ‘Casson & Friends’, creating accessible work with a focus on collaboration, interaction and joy.


Hannah Robertshaw - Sep 2014 (13) - crop.JPG

Hannah trained as a dancer and worked between 2002 and 2013 as a Dance Artist and latterly as Artistic Producer for Ludus Dance in the North West of England. She has led community dance projects nationally and internationally working with partners such as The British Council, The Greek Council for Refugees and Big Dance. Hannah is now Programmes Director for Yorkshire Dance, supporting independent artists and partnership projects across the Yorkshire Region. Alongside her strategic development work, Hannah is a practicing dance artist with a specialism in movement play and community building through dance. Hannah has led movement play workshops for clients such as Common Purpose, Bradford University International Peace Studies, Arup Engineering and the law firm Irwin Mitchell. 


Hannah and Tim took us through a warm-up to put us in the shoes of the dancers we work with. We considered:

  • Being together and being alert - how do we communicate the need to stay connected with the process to our dancers through interactive tasks
  • Opening the space for contribution, accumulating movement and being responsive to people's movements offers
  • Simplicity of instructions - setting clear rules and seeing how easy it is to develop relationships and movement material out of very simple gestures such as walk, sit down, stand still
  • Conversational movement - listening to and respecting each other
  • Exploring our ability to trust and let go of control by giving another person the role of the driver - how do we as artists step into the passive role
  • Working as a team, lead and follow and democratic leadership