Chris on working with Charlie Morrissey

Last week I was in a workshop with Charlie Morrissey and he led a dance workshop. He taught me some improvisation with a partner and to move and feel like there is someone with you while doing the movement,  like the other person who is close to you or finding a way to be connected with the mover who is improvising around.

In some places Charlie mentioned to me to find a lighter touch like a butterfly on the body and to be as close to your partner. For me I felt that I was in a dream or something has landed on me. It’s like feeling a soft snowflake has just touched me on my body. I also liked the lifting and weight sharing because it’s the sense of pouring the weight and floating in the sky.For me I think of breathing and finding the coordination within the body that I feel that I can let my arms float and to be free.

Learning from Charlie has really taught me new  things and also there is something there that I can teach other people. And to take away what I’ve learnt from Charlie. And it will make me a better dancer.

Chris Pavia


Artificial Things – Week 1 Video

We have been in the studio this week with choreographer Yoshifumi Inao creating part one of new work ‘Artificial Things’. Here is a small snippet of what we have been up to…

‘Artificial Things’ – Week 1: An Insight from the Artistic Director Lucy

This is the first creative process in which I am observing from the side of the studio, off of the dance floor and away from the sweaty heat of dancing/thinking/solving/dancing.

It is the first week of the creation of the new stage production ‘Artificial Things’ and we are working with the choreographer Yoshifumi Inao from Batsheva Dance Company. There is the familiar warmth of the dance studio, combined with a still air of focus and the quiet murmur of dancers searching for solutions.

For the first time I can sense both the nerves of the dancers and the anxiety of the choreographer; I can also see that both artists do not recognise each other’s fears and are feeling a little uneasy at the prospect of exploring each other’s unknown.

From my privileged studio corner I see the artistic team rise and fall, moment after moment; step forward and stumble back, time and again. They are striving to make sense of their collective unknown.

I see David, towering over Laura – climbing up and over her then gathering her close. He has always reminded me of a dancing bear, but during this week with Yoshi he has been liberated from his chains, and is moving with freedom whilst exploring the intricacies of dancing around the corners inside his skin.

I see Chris, open and curious – watching, waiting, wanting to communicate. He reaches out with strong arms and moves his skull, spine and tail through a thick air. Chris’ movement is like a heavy heartbeat – a metronome for his colleagues to follow.

Amy is poised, ready for action, eager to please – she knows her body well. There is lightness to Amy, as she hangs her movement high in the air and suspends from one shape to the next – delicately decorating the space with her skills & curls.

When I watch Laura at her best, I hear a distant Soprano singing. With her dark hair and dark eyes she is the Callas or Fonteyn. Always captivating the artist who is making; Laura’s movement is the unknown, and once past the fears of the first day, there is inevitably a ‘gold rush’.

‘A choreographer is only as good as their dancers’

Artificial Things – Creation Week 1

Hello there everybody!

Here are some photos taken during our first week in the studio working on ‘Artificial Things – Part 1’. Yoshifumi Inao has been the choreographer, whilst Chris Benstead has been composing the accompanying music. It has been a week filled with hard work, healthy eating, broken cables, noisy speakers, a lot of thinking and some killer bruises! We look forward more creating… watch this space!

ImageAmy and Indra, our ‘newbies’ working well together. 

ImageChris and David, our ‘oldies’ enjoy a post rehearsal stretch…(chat?)

ImageIndra helping Chris run through his solo section…

ImageThe full quartet

ImageThe production team get to watch a full run through

ImageTwo sides of the story… dancers vs production…

ImageHas Laura killed them all??

ImageYoshifumi steps in to demonstrate

ImageThe day where technology seemed to take over our lives

ImageLaura and David


ImageArtificial Things bruises…

ImageYoshifumi, David and Amy

Jenny on being part of Stopgap Youth Company

I am 25 years old, have Cerebral Palsy and I am part of StopGap Youth Company.I worked with Stopgap quite a few times in the past when I was at the Orpheus Centre. I always wanted to join so when I left the Orpheus Centre, it was the perfect opportunity. The reason I left was because I moved into my own flat. I live independently and have three p.a’s to facilitate my needs. I have been living here for 5 months. I’m in charge of my own life now, I get to choose what I want to do and going to Stopgap was top of my list.

I like knowing everyone at Stopgap and its a lot easier for me than acting, which I was doing a lot more of before.
Every Wednesday evening I practice in Guilford.I like going, I really enjoy dancing, it can be hard in a wheelchair but I just have to show people how I can do it. I have to tell myself relax and listen to the music.I tend to tense up and if it becomes really bad I cant move, so being relaxed is really important,not only for dancing but in my every day life as well. If I think about it too much I tense up even more, so I have to let it go. Sometimes in the dance group I need someone to help me relax my arms slowly. 
The hardest part for me is trying to do all the moves at the right time. 

I have met a lot of new people through Stopgap, we worked with students from Guilford University and put on a few performances before Christmas. In one performance we were in a group and at one point someone stood on my wheelchair. I had practiced this with my dance partner but she became ill before the performance so I had to do it with different people instead. I felt nervous but I got on with it and felt proud I could cope with the changes.

One of the people in Stopgap was in the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympics, her name is Laura and she is amazing. One day I hope to be as good as her. I am looking forward to all the opportunities that I will have being part of Stopgap. Hopefully I will continue for a long time.

Jenny Musselle

Captured by the Dark (Resolution!)

Before the 10th December 2012, Chris had permission to do a Resolution piece. When we all got the news via email, we congratulated Chris to start working on his new piece ‘Captured by the Dark’. At that time, Lucy Bennett and I couldn’t wait to really show Chris’s work at The Place. A few days after, Tomos Young, a guest star freelancer worked with me and Chris to work on the piece’s creation and performances.

At the beginning of the Creation process, Chris and I went into work and started rehearsing on the solos. Chris was ill at the time, but we both got through rehearsals together. By then, Chris had an idea of a card game that was based around like ‘rebounds’, ‘shockwaves’, and ‘folding’ etc. I then made up a solo using these words I picked up and Chris had tweaked a few movements around.

When Tomos and I started working on the piece, Chris taught me and Tomos some phrases and sequences to put into the four sections. Around this time, Chris had a meeting with Sarah Gilmartin and Dougal Irvine (composer and lighting creators). That meeting went well and they both took everything that Chris wanted for music and lights.

During the Creation rehearsals, Tomos and I went through the sections, bit by bit, remembering our moves so we could run-through the piece. Also in the meantime Chris had to film the both of us on Tomos’s iPad for us so then Tomos can upload them on Facebook. Sometimes, in our rehearsals; we did have some moments when there were some ups and downs as well. When we found out from Rhoda McGaw theatre, they wanted me and Tomos to perform a 10 minute piece using what we’ve got; but at the same time; Tomos wasn’t feeling quite well either.

On the 15th January 2013, Tomos and I performed at The Place. When we all got there, Tomos and I rehearsed in the space and run-through the piece with lights and music. When the performance started, Tomos and I were first on and performed the piece. It felt good and excitedly well. After performing the piece, the audience loved and complimented how beautiful and gorgeous it was.

Hannah Sampson


David’s Resolution! thoughts

‘Leave Elegance to the Tailor’

Several months ago I was confined to a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, filling out my application form for Resolution! 2013. That night It seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. Power failure on my laptop, loss of the hotel’s Internet connection, staff explaining “the engineer could be here in 10 mins or 10 hours, sorry”.

Thankfully, before my trip abroad, I had already negotiated my first collaborator for the piece. Dance Artist, Daniela B Larsen. As eager as I was to return to the studio with Larsen, after her short stint as the body double for Lucy, Stopgap’s Artistic Director, during last summer’s tour of SPUN Productions. I did not envisage the collaboration to begin quite so soon… With her help, the application procedure was completed and it was now time to focus on to the choreography and other collaborators.

Having worked with composer, Jim Pinchen, whilst performing with Stopgap, I knew he could convey the emotion I was looking to install in the piece. Working so closely with a composer was a pleasure, especially one so talented and exceptional at writing down the sound I believed only I could hear, perfectly.

My final collaborator was Gareth Green, a man with many strings to his bow, whose lighting design helped create the atmosphere and windows into the setting of the performance.

Having spent several weeks rehearsing, conversing and creating, the day of the performance was upon us. I was very excited and eager to see what was in store for me as ‘The Face and Name’ as well as the choreographer of a piece for public viewing for the first time. After years of being in dance repertoire companies I had become accustomed to being a member of a group, striving together to create an enjoyable experience for the audience. But always under the protection of a company’s name.

Thankfully I had the support of not only the collaborators, but friends and family. The lines between which blurred throughout the process. I was very pleased with the performance and its execution. The choreography, music composition and lighting worked harmoniously, and was met with very positive feedback and lovely comments. One reviewer described ‘Leave Elegance to the Tailor’ as the “…type of piece which makes people fall in love with contemporary dance.” (Chantal, Cloud Dance Festival)

Having left audience members and reviewers alike, calling out for more performances, it would be mean to not supply for the demand. This is merely the first footing…

David Willdridge

Introducing Amy!

We are very pleased to announce and introduce our brand new addition to Stopgap Dance Company…

(Drum roll)

Please welcome dancer Amy Butler!

(Applause, whoops and cheers)

We thought it would be good for you all to get to know a little bit about Amy so we asked her to answer a few questions about herself… Take a look!


Paralympics opening & closing ceremonies – Hannah

On the 29th August I went to London with my family to see the Opening of the Paralympics. It was spectacular and overwhelming because there were thousands of people surrounding us. When we got to our seats, we sat down and watched the whole show until the morning of the next day. The show was extraordinary spectacular, the dances were absolutely wonderful, so was the music, it was so beautiful and heartbreaking.

In some of the dances I saw Laura Jones, Rick Rodgers, Dave Toole, and last but not least John Kelly with his band doing the music. When I saw Laura dancing she was incredibly beautiful working with the other wheelchair users. I did see Laura at the bottom of the audience going somewhere and that was the only chance I saw her close up from our seats. When I saw Dave Toole, he touched my heart because he danced like a beautiful swan; he reminded me of that song Eva Cassidy sang ‘Fields of Gold’. When Rick Rodgers was dancing, I couldn’t believe how he would dance on stilts up in the air that beautifully.

Laura Jones also works with Stopgap as a professional dancer aka Dance Captain for the Paralympics. I work very closely with Laura when we teach dance in workshops and training when we have rehearsals with StopGap. I was working with Dave Toole before for one of Stopgap’s old rep ‘Tracking’ as guest stars. Dave Toole is one of the Acquaintances with StopGap Dance Company.

My dad had filmed everything on his video camera so we could watch it again but the close-ups though, my Mum did the same as well but she was taking photos instead. We also saw the Queen close-up to but I saw it on my Mum’s camera because we were far away from them.

On the 9th September, I went to see the Closing of the Paralympics with family friends. That was extraordinary too and overwhelming as well. The dances were amazing and wonderful, saw CandoCo dancing as well. They were amazing and it told a story throughout the piece. The artists who were there singing their songs were Rihanna, Coldplay, and Jay Z. I remembered most of the words to their songs and was dancing along when I was sitting down. The Closing finished late as well until the morning of the next morning.

If you’re interested to watch the Paralympics Opening and the Closing one more time, here are the links:



Hannah Sampson

Workshop at Yorkshire Dance (with Dave Toole!)

On the 11th and 12th October; Lucy Bennett, Sho Shibata and I went up to Leeds to do a pre-audition workshop for a replacement dancer for the main StopGap Team. When we got to Leeds we all stayed in Travelodge so that we could do the workshop on the day after. The workshop was for a dancer to work with StopGap Dance Company and to get to know us as a Company.

At the workshop at Yorkshire Dance, Lucy and I met an old acquaintance that worked with StopGap before; his name is Dave Toole. He was a guest star dancer for one of our old reps which was ‘Tracking.’  Lucy, Dave and I taught the whole workshop which was based on a Company Class that StopGap does as a Company. The participants we taught were dancers and Students from University’s or Dance companies. The workshop was great and everyone had fun dancing with us. Everyone in the end was asking questions to us about StopGap’s work as a Dance Company.

Hannah Sampson

(Dave Toole in Tracking)