Neon’s Adrienne Hart travelled to the Setouchi region of Japan in early February 2019. As a participating artist of Setouchi Art Triennale, she visited several islands in the Seto inland sea to find a site for ‘Puzzle Creature’, which will be performed as one of the many artworks during Setouchi Art Triennale’s Autumn season…
After a much needed post flight sleep, I took a boat with Hiroki Ohishi (Art Front Gallery) and Momoyo Homma (Reversible Destiny Foundation) from Takamutsu Port to Honjima island. We hired bikes and at first came across more cats than people! A friendly elder pointed out artworks and when informed that I was a visiting artist participating in Setouchi Art Triennale she requested ‘something spectacular’. The permanent Setouchi artworks on the island echo Honjima’s maritime heritage and we came across a beautifully preserved port town that was once a center of trade and shipbuilding during the Edo Period (1600-1867).
Our next stop after a lunch of soba noodles was Takamijima island. Takamijima is suffering from severe depopulation and has less than 30 inhabitants. We came across two fisherman gathering their octopus pots and climbed empty cobblestone-walled paths to a former school.
The next day we took a boat to Teshima island, home to Teshima Art Museum and permanent sound installation Les Archives du Coeur ("Heart Archives") by Christian Boltanski. Our hearts skipped a beat or two on encountering a wild boar and a short car ride to Shima Kitchen took in spectacular views. Monthly birthday parties are organised by Art Setouchi for the island people in the restaurant, which aims to connect people through ‘food and art’. Spending time on this magical island you would never have guessed that it suffered from illegal industrial waste dumping. After a court ruled in favour of the islanders in 1996, Teshima is very much a reversible destiny story!
More about Setouchi Art Triennale.
Neon Dance have been announced as one of the participating artists at Setouchi Triennale 2019, an international contemporary arts festival held every three years across 12 ‘art islands’ in Japan. Like many rural parts of Japan, the islands in the Seto Inland Sea have been suffering from depopulation in recent decades, while their remaining residents have been aging at a rapid pace, causing a wide range of problems. One of the festival's main goals is to counteract these trends and revitalize the region in a sustainable and creative way by bringing contemporary art and tourism onto the islands. The festival features over 150 artworks by artists from both Japan and overseas, many of whom make use of abandoned homes to host or even become their art installations, helping to reinvent the area as a haven for world-class art. More info coming soon!
Libby an ACE Youth group dancer and current member of Birmingham Centre for Advanced Dance Training reviews Neon Dance / PuzzleCreature after attending our 17th October performance at the Patrick Centre in Birmingham…
PuzzleCreature was a fascinating fusion of arts pulled together to create an inspiring trio accessible to an extensive amount of people. The concept of the piece came from architectural designs by Arakawa and Madeline Gins; these often looked into science and experimenting, but most famously their expedition which explored the theme death. Within the piece the use of British and Japanese sign language alongside spoken description was a great asset as it made it an expression of inclusion which in itself is something to be celebrated.
From the moment we arrived outside the theatre we knew this was not a normal performance. As we entered the inflatable dome and were able to explore the ‘stage’ and sit anywhere you pleased; we could get up close to the artefacts hanging from the ceiling, much like molds of different body parts which later were incorporated into the choreography. The incredible set design set the imagination free before the dancers even entered the immersive space.
The dancers climbed into the set with absolute composure where they shared the stage with their audience members. The articulate movements alongside the dancers impressive technical abilities allowed for mesmerising choreography including complex contact work, with their bodies intertwining organically yet fluidly. The artefacts were wearable and came into play as they seemed to manipulate the dancers and influence how they moved individually and in partner work which I found thoroughly intriguing.
We then stepped out of the dome and joined the dancers on top. Slightly deflated, they used the remaining air in the set beneath them to manipulate and send ‘wave-like’ impulses across the space; it cleverly acted as an catalyst for more movement, which I thought looked physically extremely effective especially as the audience were invited upon the dome so you really felt a part of the performance.
I really enjoyed the experience as not only have I never been involved in anything like this, the movement style and inventive set designs really grabbed my attention and made me really invest in the whole production. I’m fortunate enough to be working with the choreographer Adrienne Hart in April 2019 as part of the Birmingham CAT programme so I am intrigued and excited to learn more about the work and embrace some of these concepts for myself as a dancer.
Catch our final tour date at Swindon Dance on the 16th November!
At the beginning of September we recruited a series of Cultural Connectors between the age of 18 - 24 and gave them the brief to find inventive ways to encourage their peers to watch Neon’s latest work PuzzleCreature. We had a fantastic group join us from around the UK and we’ve been loving their unique responses to the work. We’re really happy to share a few responses and reactions to PuzzleCreature below. Explore Youtube dance poetry, textile wall hangings, postcard designs and a graphic artwork, all responding to the PuzzleCreature performance experience. A massive thank you to Izzy, Rin, Lucia, Jorja, Arseca, Christiana and Abbey for taking part.
Neon Dance’s ‘Cultural Connectors’ has been a paid opportunity made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England Project Grant funding.
A track from PuzzleCreature’s score premieres on Fluid Radio!
Neon Dance commissioned composer Sebastian Reynolds to create new work PuzzleCreature’s score for 8 speakers. ‘Drum Pyramid’ (stereo mix) is now available to stream online exclusively via Fluid Radio and features guest percussionist Greig Stuart.
Watch PuzzleCreature live:
5th/6th Oct – Tramway, Glasgow
10th – Cornerstone, Didcot
12th/13th – The Place, London
17th/18th – DanceXchange, Birmingham
16th Nov – Swindon Dance, Wiltshire
Neon's Artistic Director has been interviewed in the upcoming issue of The Funambulist magazine due out in early September. The Funambulist is a digital and printed bimestrial magazine dedicated to examine the politics of space and bodies, with new images taken from our Puzzle Creature creation process, issue number 19 "The Space of Ableism" can be ordered now! ✨
Neon Dance seek two Cultural Connectors (age 18-24) in 5 locations across the UK to work alongside Neon Dance's Artistic Director Adrienne Hart to act as a bridge between Neon Dance’s work Puzzle Creature and their local community.
Role: This role is task based, not hour-based. We work flexibly and remotely, operating on a trust basis. As long as tasks are complete, you define when and how they get done.
Deadline: 12 noon, 3rd September 2018
Interviews: 5th September
You’ll find ways to record and describe the production on your own terms, exploring ways to engage your community with the work and Neon Dance. We want you to tell people about it (locally, physically & digitally), excite them and engage them in a conversation about it.
You will have an important role in the physical and local digital campaign to reach (face to face) people in your community who may not have engaged with the arts before. You will be responsible for a ticket budget of £150 to ensure those in your communities who are unable to purchase a ticket (for whatever reason) are still be able to attend the performance.
We expect you to attend at least one of the performances and create your own response to the work (GIF, poem, film, blog, song, review, art work etc.), which would be shared online afterwards.
PuzzleCreature is inspired by artist/architect duo Arakawa and Madeline Gins and is a 60-minute work that brings together contemporary dance, a newly commissioned surround sound score and immersive set design to enable our audience to question their attitude to ageing and the body. Audiences occupy the same physical space as Neon’s world class performers with the theatre ‘black box’ transformed to affect body perception. We are exploring the (in)visibility of access with this new production, having built in bespoke access solutions for audiences with visual & auditory impairments with audio description, British Sign Language and Japanese Sign Language.
Puzzle Creature will tour to: Glasgow (5+6 October), Didcot (10 October), London (12+13 October), Birmingham (17+18 October) and Swindon (16 November).
Cultural Connectors follow on from our paid Media Intern initiative, which has given a creative self starter the opportunity to work with Neon Dance during the creation of new work for the last three years. As we embark on UK touring of new work PuzzleCreature we are looking to expand our reach and provide more entry level employment to young people interested in pursuing a career in the arts.
How To Apply
If you think you are a good fit for the role, please tell us:
Why you suit the role
How you will tackle the responsibilities
You can do this via a written (1 x A4 page maximum) or recorded (3 minutes maximum to audio/camera*) statement. Send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon, 3rd September 2018 with:
- Your CV (maximum 1 page A4)
- Names and contacts for 2 referees
*For emailing large files, please use We Transfer.
Skype interviews will take place on 5th September. Please make sure you’re able to participate in an interview on that date if you apply for this role
Equality and Diversity
Neon Dance values representation and strives to promote equality and diversity at all levels. We welcome and actively seek applications from those currently underrepresented in our workforce and the arts community.
We will guarantee an interview to any D/deaf or disabled candidate who fulfils the minimum criteria for the role and we are open to proposals of ways this role might be undertaken if our proposed structure presents barriers to any applicant.
If you have any specific access requirements please tell us what they are and whether you are registered for an Access to Work grant when you apply.