Yorkshire Dance gave a small bursary to self-employed dance artist Dagmar Birnbaum to shadow Gerry Turvey during her ROTOЯ project.
The project was a residency at Huddersfield Art Gallery, creating a series of performances and workshops in response to the ROTOЯ exhibitions, from October 2016 – May 2017.
“Having viewed non-traditional dance spaces with an interest since I first began studying dance at high school, this was a perfect opportunity to see what it means to practically work in a space such as an art gallery. Over the past six months, I have had various opportunities to observe Gerry in action as well as be involved with creating and performing within the gallery setting.
“In the first instance, I observed a workshop where Gerry was working with a group of Huddersfield New College dance students. They focused on Sumi Perera’s exhibition called ‘Luminal Spaces’. I noted how Gerry interacted with the dancers and guided them through tasks. The clarity of direction eased the creation process as the group prepared for their upcoming performance, and- as Gerry encouraged me to be actively involved- I therefore found it easy to engage with the creative process and offer advice to some of the students working on the creative tasks.
“After the new exhibition was set up, Gerry invited me and her already-formed group of performers to explore the exhibition space. This one bore the name of ‘Migrations’, which not only brought up themes of crossing borders and travelling, but mainly textiles doing so. The thread through most of the artists’ works in the exhibition was culture, embedded in the fabric/textiles, and the relative ease in transporting them.
“This was a very tactile experience as we were able to incorporate some of the fabrics on display within our performances. We also used the fabrics in one of the workshops Gerry led in the gallery alongside the exhibition. Having immigrated to the UK over a decade ago, this exhibition really struck a chord with me. After reflecting on the works and themes, I realised how relevant these are to me since some of my own creative work has dealt with notions of migration and culture.
“The last exhibition in the RotoR series is called ‘Discursive Documents’. We performed at the opening night already, and will finish the project by performing on the closing event on May 4th.
“The whole experience has been engaging and encouraging. I have had a chance to collaborate with dancers in what is seen as an unconventional dance space and interact with other artists and art forms present in there. We have arrived at cohesive responses to the exhibitions, each of which was received well by the audience. The close proximity of the audience is something I experimented with in my own work during my degree; the positive experiences I have had during the course of this project have encouraged me to go back to exploring this and other previously visited ideas further.
“It has been beneficial to shadow Gerry in many respects. Her role is multi-faceted; I have seen her as a teacher, facilitator, creator, and director. Her approaches and wealth of experience have given me confidence and ideas for my own teaching work. Being practically involved in the creation process as well as some of the performances have reminded me how much I enjoy tackling creative tasks, and performing.
“The performance experience charges my creative batteries and this in turn also feeds into my teaching work. Connections made here with a variety of people have not only built my network, but have also increased opportunities for further work.”