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

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)

Hannah’s Gyro blog

On the 3rd September Lucy, Chris, and I went to Mayford Center in Woking to do some Gyro with a Professional Trainer named Salvatore Lo Monaco. He went through some exercises with us that were based on technique, positioning and skills to work on. The problem was my right shoulder and I would have to find a balance between releasing and relaxing it. Chris needed his fluidity back and he would to have to find a way to bring it back into his body again.

In his work he uses imagery development to maintain on that particular body part; to understand that he uses words like ‘pushing away’, ‘exhaling and inhaling’, ‘releasing’, and ‘using the eyes’. These kinds of words help us to warm up when we do rehearsals at work.

If you want to arrange a session at Eden Spiral here is the point of contact, website link, and email:

Number: 07784 593 995



Hannah Sampson

Sophie’s thoughts on Recruitment Workshops

From the dawn of 2012, StopGAP Dance Company will be opening their doors and inviting the curious to come wandering in. We are hosting a series of ‘Dancer Days’ up and down the country, not only to stretch the parameters of our little dancing bubble, but also with a view to recruiting a new dancer. After five happy years with the company, the winds of change are blowing me across the Atlantic to sample life on the West coast with my new Californian husband.

The ‘Dancer Days’ are an opportunity for StopGAP to meet dancers outside the adrenalin fuelled, sweaty palmed confines of an audition, and for curious and open-minded dancers to come along and meet the company. When I arrived five years ago as an access officer, it was not with the intention of eventually becoming a full-time performer with the company. I was a disillusioned dancer cum barmaid on whom risks were taken, and owing to fortuitous timing, opportunities given. Instinctively I seized them, and developed the deep-rooted passion for integrated dance and heartfelt responsibility for the company essential for any member of the team. Whether looking to recruit, or seeking employment, perhaps we don’t always know exactly what we are looking for, or what we need. What better time to call out for the curious and open-minded?

As an intimate company that spends a great deal of time together, it is essential that time is taken to find new team members. The group dynamic and often visceral relationship between the dancers is a unique and regularly celebrated element of our work. This cannot be plucked from thin air – or an audition alone! The balance of personalities in an artistic setting is a masterful kind of alchemy. Trust and intuition in abundance, combined with an imaginative and creative new dancer, could be the catalyst that allows the company to clamber to new heights, developing and refining their innovative and exemplary integrated practice (no apologies for the pressure new dancer!). We are entering a period of change, re-evaluating our progression, ambitions and our representation in the world we inhabit, time will be spent to ensure the ‘right’ person adds their voice to the chorus.

What a voyage creating the next season of rep will be, one that I personally hope will be rife with obstacles. I say this not because I will probably be sitting on the dock of the bay enjoying a clam chowder by that time, but because these obstacles are the heart and soul of our creations. Without restriction and resistance we are wading in a lukewarm paddling pool on a mild sunny day. It may feel nice but we aren’t getting far – it’s certainly no white water rafting in a lightening storm! Perhaps I am a little over-zealous with my metaphor but you know what I mean.

The creation of pioneering integrated work with StopGAP demands an expansive mind and a passion for problem solving. Blossoming in adversity is a skill necessary for the delivery of our education work also, throughout the year, by all the dancers. I was involved in a long term project that took me to Albania four times in the past year. A collaboration with the British Council, Help the Life and Vodafone Albania, we were asked to train professional Albanian dancers to teach inclusively and in turn form their own fledgling integrated companies across the country. Initially daunting, it was at times challenging, and constantly enlightening. Moments were lost in translation, and I grappled regularly with cultural divides and my own demons telling me to ‘do a fantastic job’. My eyes were opened, my inclusive practice improved, and my teaching scrutinized, explored and refined. It was a remarkable experience and ended with a surprise appearance on Albania’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’. Who’d have thought? Now there’s something to tell the grandchildren about.

There is an undertone of unpredictability and hilarity to our everyday interaction, but perhaps the most challenging times at StopGAP are in fact the humdrum days. When the nights are drawing in and it’s the same faces in the studio again and again, maybe we just need someone who will come in, put the kettle on, and then just get on with it.

Curious? You bring the biscuits, the doors are open!

Sophie Stanley

Hannah’s thoughts on play time with Charlotte Vincent

On the 17th and 18th of October we had a new choreographer called Charlotte Vincent. Charlotte was really good, helpful and understanding of the work in our company and us as dancers.

It was really interesting for us as dancers in the company to see how she uses her body and our dancers bodies and technique moving around. Charlotte led the workshop with us with good interpretation of how her company works together.

In a couple of years from now we are hoping we’re going to see her company and her as a choreographer putting together a dance piece for the professional dancers or for all dancers in the company.

Hannah Sampson

Sync Fun from Judith

As part of our involvement in SYNC South East ( Joy and I went to Milton Keynes to be part of Pitch.  Although the dancers couldn’t be there as they were deep in rehearsals, they were in the form of our film of Trespass and the wonderful photos from Christopher Parkes ( as you can see here:

Difficult to miss us ! Joy was fantastic and managed to get three pages of new signees to our mailing list and it was great to have time to chat with so many people. A good day in all despite transport difficulties… lots going on and  a range of art work to see.


Posted by Judith Hibberd

Sho’s excitment about our new outdoor production “Spun”

StopGAP Dance Company started doing R&D for our new outdoor show ‘Spun Productions’ in December last year (2010). What we have got now is looking promising, and we are on course for our creation and rehearsals over May and June 2011.

‘Spun’ is being commissioned by Accentuate (Legacy Trust, South East), Woking Dance Festival and Foyle Foundation, and it will be a show full of surprises and wackiness, as most of our shows are…! The piece will be choreographed by Lucy Bennett, and is set to follow the rise and fall of a celebrity wannabe, and multi-layers of other characters’ stories our hero encounters along the way. The show will draw on how the media has encouraged ‘instant success culture’, and our surreal experience of our celebrity status in Albania! The show will also involve MacArthur Park sang by Richard Harris – courtesy of Universal Music and we think the lyrics are going to be very apt.

I’m excited about revealing and exploring how ‘being excellent’ involves hard graft and honesty, and it doesn’t just spring out of nowhere.

We are also very excited about our Apprentices Anna and Hannah being part of this project. They have developed so quickly this year, and we feel they are ready to take on this challenge.

Tour dates will follow soon!

Posted by Sho Shibata