20 Years Dancing Together

Questions from our online community


As part of our celebrations of Lucy, Chris and Laura’s 20 years dancing together we invited questions from our online communities. Read the full answers from Lucy and Chris.

  • A rehearsal of Artificial Things. Four dancers sit in a line in front of a white curtain. A fifth stool is empty on the right, draped in a jacket. Left to right: David Willdridge, Amy Butler, Laura Jones and Chris Pavia.

  • A black and white image of Chris Pavia on the left, two dancers hold his hands behind him and he pushes forward. Laura Jones watches from her wheelchair in the background. Taken during an Artificial Things rehearsal.

  • Behind the scenes of the Artificial Things Film, shot in an abandoned shopping centre, Laura and Dave Toole dance on the floor in the centre. In the foreground a track stretches across the shot into the distance. A filming rig sits to the left with two people filming the action. The image is hazy due to the cold.

  • A black and white photo from behind the scenes of the Artificial Things Film. In the foreground, two people in thick coats and hats film the dancers, behind the camera the dancers are having a hot drink break.

What’s your favourite memory with Stopgap so far?

Lucy: I loved being on the film set with Chris Pavia and Sophie Fiennes for Artificial Things. I think Chris and I really found our medium to work together. I was able to coach Chris in between takes, Chris could repeat the choreography as many times as he needed, and he was able to develop it and we would keep the cameras running.

Chris: I think my favourite memory would have to be the short version of Artificial Things. We performed it in Italy, we had some changes to make it shorter and the people really liked it, we had good audiences. In breaks we looked around, we did site visits which I really enjoyed, the places there were amazing.

Did ‘disability justice awareness’ impact your choreography? If so, how?

Lucy: If you had asked me this a few years ago, I would have turned to Dave Toole or Laura Jones and asked them. We always said Stopgap did not need to be political. As a dance company of disabled and non-disabled people performing professionally – we were political.

The world feels very different now and looking back on our twenty years together we can see that from 2012 when we became a devising company in which either Chris or I facilitated the choreography – it was all about Disability Justice whether we were aware or not.

For my first piece for Stopgap in 2006, I created a finale dance sequence for Dan Watson, Laura Jones and Chris Pavia. Because it was my movement on three very different dancers the sequence was clunky and flat. After that I realised that creating material with the dancers as individuals was paramount to the success of our inclusive culture.

When we began researching Artificial Things, it was Laura that said she was tired of learning standing dancers’ steps. Translating Laura’s way of moving in her wheelchair and not adapting her glides to suit the standing dancers’ conditioned way of moving gave us our signature style.

Dave, Chris, and Hannah have taught me less is more in choreography. By concentrating what they did well into selective scenes, we could make a powerful impact without exhausting them physically or mentally.

Now our latest production is part funded by the Law Department in Maynooth University and the European Research Council who are researching our inclusive choreography to support their recommendations for enhancing cultural diversity through European Law.

It’s been a journey.

What was your favourite bow moment after a show?

Lucy: To be honest, bowing as a performer felt awkward, a bit like someone switches all the lights on and wakes you up from a dream. I prefer watching the cast bow now and my favourite moment must be Frock in my hometown of Worthing. It is an outdoor show, and the Frock team are so happy and exhausted by the bow, it is really rewarding to see the connection between audience and artist when they are but a meter away from each other.

Of all the touring you've done, where is your favourite place you've visited?

Chris: I think my favourite place I’ve toured and performed was actually New York. It was a long time ago when we performed, and the city is incredible. Performing there was one of my highlights with Stopgap… performing on a big stage there.

Lucy: Beautiful Cambodia where I met Nadenh Poan – one of my favourite dancers.