Test Pressing Project 1: “Extract”

From teaching over the years, I’ve observed that older students often wish to be extended with performance experiences that provide more substance than dance eisteddfods and recitals. This was the case for students Mill Street Studios at the university age: some who wanted to take dance professionally, and some keen to extend their dance experiences. The Test Pressing group was established to give student dancers a taste of making a contemporary dance work in a professional context.

Aged between 16 and 19, I guided the five student dancers in aspects of making an immersive contemporary dance work where we convert a space into a performance space and also where the audience shares the space with the performers.

The first project for the Test Pressing group was titled “Extract”. It was a 42-minute immersive contemporary dance work performed by five senior students of Mill Street Studios who were keen to experience working with a choreographer in a non traditional theatre format.

In terms of the subject matter, the piece drew inspiration from the space that the work was created in. For the dancers, this saw them drawing on various memories of Mill Street Studios where they had spent many hours and where many memories had been formed at this point in their lives. The project explored themes of hierarchy, acceptance, pressure, anxiety in a dance class environment.

The agenda for the audience is the first day of classes, and the characters emerge around the audience as the story unfolds. 

I applies my “immersive dance” formula that I established making SlowDive, Video Set, Hey Scenester, and The Factory, and I mentored the students in various aspects of making a dance show including marketing, ticketing, promotion, costuming, sound, and (very DIY) lighting and stagecraft.

The cast performed two shows to a capacity of audience members and even held a little Q&A at the conclusion of both shows.
Here’s are some photos of the performance. Photos by Gemma Blake

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