Interview: Rebecca Edwards – Curator of Swansea Scratch Night

I chatted to Rebecca Edwards (Rebecca Edwards Contemporary Dance) about her latest project Swansea Scratch Night happening this April at Swansea’s Volcano Theatre. The night will include a ‘variety of work including improvisations, dance theatre and film….there really is something for everyone!’

Alice: Hi Rebecca! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rebecca Edwards: I have recently completed an MA in Dance Performance at the University of Chichester. An integral part of the course is to be a member of Mapdance, a touring Contemporary Dance Company who perform both nationally and internationally. Under the direction of Yael Flexer and Detta Howe, the company performed works by Jonathon Burrows, Rick Nodine, Kerry Nichols, Abi Mortimer and Ofra Idel. During my BA training I was a part of the third year performance group, 3Fall Dance Company, where I had the opportunity to work with choreographers Filip van Huffel, Ceyda Tanc and Aya Koboyashi performing in schools and colleges across the UK. Recently I have also danced for emerging choreographer Katie Cunningham whose work has been performed in Blueprint, Stratford and the Wales Dance Platform, Newport.

Swansea Scratch Night is my first venture as an event’s organiser, taking on sole responsibility for organising and funding the event in the hope that I can make contemporary dance more accessible in the area.

A: What gave you the idea for a Scratch Night in Swansea?

RE: I have attended scratch nights in the past and think they are a fantastic platform for emerging artists, giving them an opportunity to present themselves and their work in a performance environment. A crucial element of a scratch night is that the spectators are able to give feedback to the choreographers and this feedback can be taken forward and support them as they continue their creative processes. For artists who are beginning their choreographic journey I feel it is important that they are able to have this dialogue with their potential audience.

As there is little opportunity for emerging artists in Swansea I thought I would introduce the idea to the area, not only providing a platform for artists to perform but to make contemporary dance accessible to the people of Swansea.

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A: There’s a diverse mix of artists taking part from all over the country and even Europe – can you tell us a bit more about them?

RE: The evening has a diverse range of artists, both locally and internationally and all in different stages of their career.

Jessica Lerner has wealth of experience as a visual and movement artist. She studied at the Centre of New Dance Development, Netherlands in 1993 and since then has worked for organisations such as Chisenhale dance and Independent Dance. She has also worked alongside filmmaker Tanya Syed in creating work supported by the Arts Council Wales. Jessica is working towards a performance improvisation for Swansea Scratch Night.

Michael Williams has a great deal of experience as a performer working for companies such as Earthfall, Exim Dance and FFIN dance. Mike has recently taken to choreographing and will be performing his debut work 4.33.

After completing her MA at The University of Chichester where she toured with Mapdance, Svenja Hoffeller moved back to Germany but will be returning to the UK to perform her work for Swansea Scratch Night. Svenja is keen to keep connected to the dance scene here in the UK and is excited to perform in Wales for the first time.

Finally we have Sadia Karin and Anton Hinchliffe who are both emerging artists. As recent graduates their practice is very fresh and exciting.

A: What’s the dance scene like in Swansea?

There is very little contemporary dance in Swansea in terms of regular events, although we are very lucky to have the Taliesin Theatre, which regularly presents a variety of dance works. I hope by bringing events such as scratch nights to the area I will be able to begin to build a network of artists and organise regular events and activities for those who have an interest in the art form as well as introducing it to those who are yet to discover it.

RE: At what stage in the choreographic process are the works that are being presented? Are they all brand new pieces?

The five works are at a variety of stages, for example Jessica and Anton are both creating new work specifically for the scratch night. Svenja and Sadia are presenting works they have recently created during their University training and Michael is performing a work, which he has been touring for a year now.

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A: What do you feel the choreographers are looking to get out of a night like this?

RE: The artists are all in the discovery stage of their careers: discovering who they are as artists and what they are trying to say as a choreographer and/or performer. The night allows them to share their journey so far without the pressure of needing a definite answer. Some have been on this journey longer than others but that is what makes it exciting, as they are able to share their experiences with each other and with the spectators.

A: Do you plan on holding any future nights like this in South Wales?

RE: I really hope the event is the first of many and this is just the beginning of an exciting development of contemporary dance in Swansea. I am excited to see where this will lead …

Swansea Scratch night is taking place at the Volcano Theatre, Swansea on Friday 15th April. Tickets are £6 and there is a 25% discount for students, group bookings and children. To reserve your ticket email swanseascratchnight@outlook.com or for more information visit the website here.

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