News: Live Vibe - Making it Happen

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Jane Coulston & Ricardo da Silva, Live Vibe winners 2013. Photo: Nick Gurney

Live Vibe, created by Impact Dance’s Hakeem Onibudo, is a programme offering young artists the chance to present work in a professional environment during the early stages of their performance careers and supporting them in progressing to the next level. It started in 2009 with showcase events at the Lilian Baylis Studio Sadler’s Wells in 2009, progressing to the larger stage of the Peacock Theatre – and in 2010 went international, with Live Vibe Hong Kong. In Live Vibe: Making It Happen, choreographers work with non-dance artists to create work for performance at the East London venue Rich Mix earlier this month.

Eight initial pairs had two weeks to collaborate before Round One, where five works were selected to proceed for further development. Then in Round Two, the final acts, including Gemma Hoddy and JP, Xena Gusthart and Kindred Tribe, Stefanie Freeman and Ana Paz, and Natasha Khamjani and Cherri Prince – were judged by Kenneth Tharp (Chief Executive of The Place), Lyndsey Winship (Time Out’s Dance Editor) and Boy Blue Entertainment’s Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, along with the audience, to select the Live Vibe Champion 2013. For Tharp, the opportunity for artists to collaborate is invaluable: “The process can be incredibly challenging but it can take you to unchartered territory, placed you couldn’t get to alone.”

Our reporter Laura Dodge talked to this year’s winners, choreographer and dancer Jane Coulston and spoken word artist Ricardo da Silva, who performed a humorous piece investigating the nature of fanaticism in football and yoga….

You clearly get along really well and share the same sense of humour. How did your collaboration come about?
Jane Coulston [JC]: Hakeem sits you down together and says “you’re collaborating”. So we had a conversation. We talked about ourselves and what we liked doing.
Ricardo da Silva[RDS]: I said that I liked football and Jane told me she does yoga. I hate stretching so we thought we could make a funny sketch out of that. We wanted to go with something comedic. Spoken word is always so serious, with people saying things like ‘I am oppressed by the sun’. We wanted to play with the spoken word and the movement, and make the piece different to the others at Live Vibe, which we imagined would be serious.
JC: We didn’t want to go with the usual format for spoken word/dance collaborations ie. I dance and you speak. We both wanted to be onstage and to really collaborate.
RDS: I like to have fun. When you’re comfortable, you’re able to express yourself more and really put your ideas out there.
JC: I can’t imagine Ricardo not being comfortable! There is nothing he wouldn’t do in rehearsal or on stage.
RDS: It’s about breaking boundaries. We didn’t want Jane to look cute – she had to speak like a proper footie fanatic.
JC: I released my inner thug!

Your piece was mainly humorous, but there were some serious undertones. For example, Jane pointed out that Ricardo loves Man United even though he has no connection to Manchester as a city…
JC: It was a kind of personal vent for me about people putting so much time and energy into something when the world’s such a mess.

Couldn’t you say that about dance?
JC: Yes, absolutely. I’m passionate about creating great dance but it’s counter-productive to be too serious about anything. Someone should be able to say ‘I like Arsenal’ without being punched in the face.
RDS: Both football and dance are languages that translate across different countries and spoken languages. They are ways for people to connect, not things to be fanatical about.
JC: Ricardo’s not a football fanatic and I’m not a yoga fanatic. Football fans have a bad reputation, but I see similar people in yoga who are very competitive and have to wear the most expensive outfits and be the best in the class. Any fanatical behaviour is unhealthy.

How did you go about collaborating in the studio?
RDS: We started by writing about each other’s passions and the movement came organically from that. We didn’t want the movement to be an impassioned imitation of the words. When dancers work with spoken word artists, they usually feel like they have to express the sentiment of the speech – dancing word for word. But I think you should dance about how you feel. If I say ‘I poke you in the eye’, you don’t have to do an eye-poking dance – it can be whatever the words make you feel. Our piece was theatrical rather than dance as the movement went where it wanted naturally.
JC: It was liberating to do something that challenged people’s expectations. Coming from a contemporary dance background, there are boxes that you are expected to tick – body ripples, rolling on the floor, high legs…
RDS: …looking at my hand like I’ve never seen it before and it’s amazing.
JC: There are these trends from major choreographers like Hofesh Shechter and Wayne McGregor but I want to work on something new. This wasn’t just about the performance but about the collaborative process. I don’t know why collaboration is so good, but it is.
RDS: The other person helps you release new techniques and tools. Being comfortable kills you as an artist.

How did you feel when it was announced that you had won Live Vibe?
JC: We were both really shocked to have won. We were really pleased with what we had created but there was such great work in the competition we totally didn’t expect to win! It took a few days to sink in, but we are so pleased and proud of what we achieved.

Live Vibe 2014 is currently being planned. If you would like to apply to participate, visit

Laura Dodge writes for a number of publications including Dancing Times, The Londonist and English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word blog.

Photo: Nick Gurney

Leave a comment

You must be signed in to post comments.

Sign in now

What’s On