Stopgap Dance Company’s film Artificial Things, directed by Sophie Fiennes, launches exclusively on BBC iPlayer from March 31st 2019 as part of the BBC’s Dance Passion season.
Filmed on location in a derelict suburban shopping mall and featuring an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled dancers, the film explores human interdependence, strength, and vulnerability. The film is a re-imagining of the stage work of the same name and dancers Amy Butler, Laura Jones, Chris Pavia, David Willdridge and Dave Toole, who devised the original piece, all appear in the film.
‘I like dance to have a sense of place. This location shed a new light on the work,’ says the choreographer and Stopgap Artistic Director Lucy Bennett. ‘When Sophie saw the space, she was quite clear that she wanted the dance to speak for itself in the film, this would not be a documentary but a performance film.’
Director Sophie Fiennes, best known for feature documentaries on Grace Jones, Slavoj Zizek and Anselm Keifer, is no stranger to dance, having made films for television with UK choreographer Michael Clark and Belgium theatre maker company Les Ballets C de la B.
‘Its very hard to talk about dance,’ says Fiennes, ‘but by filming it new sensations and feelings can be articulated through the camera and editing. This is particularly true with inclusive choreography, working with the combination of learning disabled, physically disabled and non-disabled dancers. There is a particular kind of beauty here.’
‘Chris Pavia is a dancer with Downs Syndrome and the filming environment really suited him’ says Bennett, ‘We could work in short bursts and he could really take it to the next level; Chris didn’t want to do something nice and friendly, he wanted to make a solo about all the things he hated in the world, and that’s what came out’.
Produced by Lone Star Productions, the film Artificial Things, duration 25 mins, is a The Space commission for BBC Arts. Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director of The Space, said, ‘The Space was delighted to support Stopgap in the filming of Artificial Things. The film is not only brilliant, but helps to challenge traditional perceptions around ability and dance and its inclusion on the iPlayer within the BBC’s #DancePassion season will mean that even more people will be able to enjoy this fantastic work.’