In 2021 we launched bursaries for young Dorset performance makers. These creative development bursaries were awards of £500 made available due to the generous support of individual donors. The idea behind the bursaries was to develop a young person’s practice as an emerging theatre or dance artist, and the money would be complemented by support from Activate’s team of producers.
One of the successful applicants was Bournemouth-based Emilie Barton, a dance practitioner, contemporary performer and choreographer. Emilie used the opportunity to advance her piece ‘The Call’, which at the time was very much in development. The bursary allowed Emilie time to focus on two key elements: voice and costume.
Emillie was able to pay voice and body coach Kate Smith for her time in helping to develop voice techniques. ‘The Call’ relies heavily on connecting emotion to the voice, use of howling, and this training with Kate allowed Emilie to understand the demands on her voice and progress her own techniques. She also attended ‘Voice for Performance’ – an online course from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with coach Leon Trayman. It included 2 sessions every week for 4 weeks and provided Emilie with valuable insights into voice work including articulation, breath control and projection. Emilie also used the money to purchase costumes specifically for this show, allowing her time to adapt elements of the clothing to suit the movement in the piece.
In the same year as receiving the bursary from Activate, Emilie also became a Sanctuary artist at Lighthouse Poole which allowed her extra support and time in the rehearsal studio.
Beyond the £500, Activate also offered Emilie on-going support from Producers Ki (Youth Dance and Diversity) and Caroline (Theatre, Education, Outreach). Emilie embarked on writing a series of applications for showcasing ‘The Call’ at various dance platforms and Ki offered feedback on these. This included advice on how best to talk about the piece and making the most of tricky word count limits on application forms. This helped polish Emilie’s application writing process and ultimately led to being successfully awarded a place as a Resolution Artist in this year’s biggest festival of new choreography at The Place in London.
Beginning as a work in progress at Motus Dance’s ‘Adjustments’ platform in November 2019 to performing on a world-class dance stage in London this summer, Emilie has developed the piece successfully with support from Activate, and other arts organisations along the way.
Emilie says, “I was thrilled to receive the bursary in 2021, it was the kickstart I needed to focus on and finish ‘The Call.’ It’s my first solo choreography piece that I’ve been working on for a few years so it’s exciting to get to this stage. The support from Activate was great in helping me build my confidence and the bursary allowed me to put money towards rehearsal space, developing my voice technique and buying costumes. It’s amazing that a small bursary like this can lead to bigger things. And what’s even more amazing is that the initial idea for the piece was sparked when I saw an Activate event way back in 2016!”
You can see ‘The Call’ at The Place on Friday 26 May.
Resolution is the biggest annual showcase for new choreography in the UK, offering artists a platform to present their work on an established London stage. A key event in the contemporary dance calendar, Resolution returns to The Place across 19 nights from Thursday 18 May to Friday 16 June 2023. A festival that tests the boundaries of dance and performance, this year’s Resolution will bring together 57 artists and companies to perform bold new contemporary dance work.
To find out more about the support we offer artists, head to our For Creatives page.
Photography by David Froud.