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Performance Research Programmes

DRS has emerged from artistic practice and many years of experience; this has sketched out the contours of its activities since its foundation in 2003. It curates cross-disciplinary performance research programmes both in-house and in partnership with other national and international organisations. It has delivered three major programmes, funded by the Arts Council of England and other project partners: ‘ABOUT US’ (2017/19); ‘Crossing Paths R&D’ (2016); and ‘Stepping Stones’ (2014/15).

ABOUT US (2017/19)

ABOUT US – a vibrant performance research programme characterised by interdisciplinary collaboration and powerful explorations of personal and political struggles around loss, joy, caring and oppression that affect us all.

This is utopian performance in which performers bathe both one another and their audience in well-being and gently instil a sense of hope for our collective futures. Josephine Leask, DanceTabs

The multimedia performance was created by Jacky Lansley with artists from dance, visual art, experimental music and theatre backgrounds. Inspired by the everyday experiences of the human condition, it plays with multiple perspectives to draw the audience into an intimate world of which they are a part – it is a performance about us all.

They adapted the piece to its art gallery setting, working with the carpet in the space and other specific features that meant this iteration was wholly new and distinctive from previous realisations of ABOUT US. Their interactions with the projected video elements of the performance were seamless, enabling a much more expansive approach to dance to be experienced by the audience, who were a mixture of first-time attendees, a devoted dance crowd, and contemporary art fans. – Stephanie Straine, Curator of Exhibitions and Projects, Modern Art Oxford

A parallel programme of interdisciplinary CPD workshops and seminars expanded the unique ethos and methodologies of DRS out of London to a wider pool of researchers across the UK. Both emerging and more established artists were provided with new strategies to explore themes related to their own personal and social experiences.

The workshop created an atmosphere and framework within which it was possible to explore the limits of my imagination and physicality it allowed space and opportunity to do my work! – ABOUT US Workshop Participant 2019

Partners/venues: Modern Art Oxford (2019), Cultural Exchanges Festival, De Montfort University/Leicester (2018), Bluecoat, Liverpool (2018), and Oxford House Theatre, London (2018).

The Team: Directed and choreographed by Jacky Lansley, with new music by Sylvia Hallett. Performers: Vincent Ebrahim, Esther Huss, Fergus Early, Ingrid MacKinnon, Ursula Early, Jreena Green, Tim Taylor. Cinematographer: Roswitha Chesher, Lighting Designers: Nao Nagai and James MacKenzie, Dramaturg: Ramsay Burt.

Supported by Arts Council England & PRS Foundation.

Crossing Paths (2016)

Crossing Paths R&D – an experimental, interdisciplinary programme including studio R&D, a seminar linking the studio R&D to wider concerns impacting independent dance, a performed sharing of live and digital material emerging from the studio process with Q&A, and a series of three theme based CPD workshops – The Personal is Political / Outside and Inside / Women in Dance.

“The ability to speak freely about being a woman without fear of being judged… For me, it was an empowering day.” -Marie Ha

Programme participants from arts, academic and community ecologies, crossed paths to explore significant biographical experiences through experimental performance methodologies and discussion of the wide-ranging concerns impacting on the independent sector. All strands of Crossing Paths R&D were informed by the concept of ‘The Personal is Political’ and crossed borders of generation, ethnicity, gender and physical ability.

“All through the R&D I’ve been thinking about how what we’re doing related to the uncertain times we’re living through. Even before the Brexit vote, there’s been a sense that the complex interlocking systems we live in are perilously unstable, and that there are parallels between a need to find new alternative ways of doing things both in the studio and in the wider world” -Ramsay Burt

Partners included the Siobhan Dance Studios where a final sharing of performance research with a Q&A took place in 2016.

“The space and close proximity with the performers was powerful and beautiful. This really excited me because it brings the audience and the performers together in a way where the performance becomes an active participation from all who are present”  -Audience Response

The work was choreographed and directed by Jacky Lansley with Cinematographer Roswitha Chesher, Composer Sylvia Hallett, Dramaturg Ramsay Burt and Performers: Vincent Ebrahim, Ursula Early, Lucy Tuck, Esther Huss, Ingrid MacKinnon, Maria Ghoumrassi and Fergus Early.

Supported by Arts Council England.


‘Stepping Stones’ – a creative and organisational development programme at DRS, to widen public engagement and create a more robust organisational infrastructure. It allowed DRS to expand its network, extend successful CPD programmes, benefit more dance artists and become a vital contributor to the independent dance sector. 

Activities included: the launch of two new training programmes ‘The Interdisciplinary Performer’ (TIP 1&2) to develop participants’ practice and meet the challenges of a hybrid performance culture; an Artists’ Residency Programme (ARP) in partnership with Trinity Laban and Goldsmiths University; exchange with UK and international partners (e.g. Royal Holloway University, Shoreditch Trust, ACME Studios, Green Candle Dance and Independent Dance, P.A.R.T.S Bruxelles and  School of New Dance Development, Amsterdam).

“Through my involvement in both TIP and The Speaking Dancer, I have had the privilege to participate in workshops full of rich interactions, intellectual reasonings and practice that has shaped and challenged the way I see my own work as an artist… It is so rich and so powerful to be guided and encouraged by artists who understand the politics of our time, who have lived their politics through their art and who are not afraid to remain integral to their practice.” – TIP 2015 and SDIPT 2016 Participant

“Overall, the programme offered a space for me to consider and re-consider my practice in relation to other interdisciplinary methods and some key professionals’ practices.” - TIP 2015 Participant

“The residency allowed us to experiment, to be able to throw ideas out during the process with the time to trust that new ones would come along…The mentoring was accessible for the members of the company with learning disabilities and incredibly useful for us all.” - Blink Dance Theatre, Artist Residency 2015

Tip Faculty: Programme Director: Jacky Lansley (Artistic Director, Dance Research Studio). Guest Tutors: Anne Bean (Performance Artist/Sculptor), Frank Bock (Curator, Independent Dance), Sally Dean (Performance/Somatic Practitioner), Fergus Early (Green Candle Dance Company), Jamila Johnson-Small/Alexandrina Hemsley (Project O), Esther Huss (Dandelion Collective), Lily Susan Todd (Theatre Director/Writer), Sylvia Hallett (Composer/Musician), Ursula Early (Big Bear Theatre Company).

Artist Residencies: Emilia Robinson & Sara Ismail, Blink Dance Theatre, and Eleven Farrer House. 

Supported by Arts Council England, Trinity Laban, and Goldsmiths University.

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