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 – 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


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)

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

SPUN Productions – Chris

I like the characters and the Camera crew because it makes me feel that my character JB takes the lime light.

In  our piece we have a GMTV scene, I like this  because it shows my character off. I imagine that Ben Shepard and Christine Bleakley are interviewing my character’s life and the story of JB and how he has had a short but wonderful career in music and will also be nominated for a Brit award.

I also like the new idea of having a TV in the living room scene while Dave is having a time of his life dreaming of fantasy tales in his dreams.

The new music by Jim Pinchen and voice overs work very well and it does link the piece together because it introduces the characters in Dave’s dream.  For me the music of the trio in the shoe shuffle really climaxes and I like dancing with David and Tomos.

I also see that Dave is living his life with Lu in the opening duet and later on in the new choreography. I do like the new set that includes wooden frames it gives the whole piece a stunning out come.


Chris Pavia

Trespass 2012 – Hannah

Trespass is a dance piece that had been choreographed by 2 professional choreographers, Rob Tannion and Thomas Noone. Trespass has 2 pieces all in one; each piece is about an hour and a half for both sections of the Trespass piece. The two pieces are called ‘Within’ and ‘Splinter’.

Within is about a lone dancer where she faces her imaginary dream with a lot of loud dramatic effects and hardcore drama involving the other dancers as a four. This piece makes me feel like it’s on a 3D TV screen with really loud dramatic music blaring out at you. What I think about this piece is that it is a beautiful amazing story which tells you about a lone dancer. I’m guessing in the piece itself, all five dancers has their own dreams where they dance continuously until the end.

Splinter is a Japanese themed tradition where they bring hope, fortune, happiness, joy and war hatred. This piece makes me feel blessed and passionate about the story line plot itself where it can take you into a fantasy adventure of different words. This piece’s plot helps you understand more on what the eye can see through the dancers dancing.

Here are the venues they will be performing ‘Trespass’ at this year in 2012:

  • Salisbury  – 22 Feb: Salisbury Arts Centre, Bedwin Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 3UT – £11 (concession: £9)
  • Canterbury – 8 and 9 March: Marlowe Studio, The Friars, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3AS – £12 (concession: £11)

Hannah Sampson

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