Colab Day 5 – The performance

The final day of Colab came about very quickly. Restrictions with room bookings meant we had a shorter 3 hour rehearsal time in the morning to run our work. The final day was just an opportunity to  keep running the piece to let it sink in.

As usual we started with warm ups to bring every one together, and get every one thinking on the same level. In this warm up we looked more at stretching, and movement of the body. Various exercises meant putting the body in to different positions and feeling the transference of weight, sometimes working in pairs to reposition our selves. This was another peek into exercises from martial arts.

After this we headed straight to our places to make our first run through. Now a routine has developed, so people knew what to expect and it started to fall in to place like clockwork. Overall the run through was good, however the level of concentration that is needed for this music is so high that minor slip ups occurred. I speak on my behalf for this. ‘Odd’ Metres are a very weak subject for my self, and require much higher concentration than others, despite playing the compositions now for a few days, there were still fragments of the music, I would still trip over (much to my disappointment). At this point however it was too late for me to do anything about this, as the information simply needed longer to filter into my brain.

Here’s our final run through in the studio from start to finish:

Now the work was set, it was just a case of organising our selves in the theatre and then performing! We re-assembled in a circle to reflect on the week by  listening to each others thoughts and comments on what they have learnt or will take away from the week. Our favourite comment that came from all the musicians was ‘I really enjoyed working with the dancers’. It has been apparent how great it is to work with another art form to feed your own ideas and influence your performance. Making a much higher form of art for the audience and performer.IMG_6297

I recorded our thoughts and can be found here:

We had a sound check at around 5, were we set up and got used to the sound and the space, moving our selves around stage as necessary. After this a break for a couple of hours until we came back to warm up. Keeping on the similar thread to what exercises we have been using, we assembled in a group to warm up and connect with each other so we were ready to perform.


The performance for me was very nerve-racking. Although I had tried my best to control this with the warm ups, this did have a negative impact on the performance. It was the usual chattering of the brain, ‘will I remember this’, ‘whats the next bit’, ‘I dont want to play a wrong note or let any one down’. Despite being completely relaxed in rehearsals, the new space and the audience piles on the pressure. I think also due to the music requiring such a high level of concentration, none of us wanted anything to go wrong out of respect for Nik. The whole performance though was a success and flowed from start to finish. The dancers were as spectacular as ever,  with the two mediums feeding each other. Nik was as calm as ever, effortlessly cueing each part with complete clarity.


The performance was a success.


What has become apparent throughout the week was the connection between Nik’s artistic direction and his daily life, they worked as one. Everything he did with in his martial arts worked directly into the music or his day-to-day life. Nik is such a clear defined leader, everything approached with a clear level head and with self belief in what he is doing. This didn’t however affect his openness to suggestions or to let us perform his work with our interpretation. These are all traits I would love to take away from this week and integrate into my own leadership and projects. The whole week was planned and structured brilliantly with a clear development and purpose. We progressed quickly because of the mutual respect every one had for each other and that clear stimuli were given to create work from. Nik’s independence of rhythm has challenged my playing and approach. Its become apparent that I need to create exercises to develop this in the future.

It has been a pleasure to work with so many talented people, and ones with a such a driven work ethic. To learn from Nik’s approach has been a meaningful experience and I hope I have the pleasure of performing with him again.

The only sad thing, about the final day, was the fact I didn’t have a chance to see what others had created. So much hard work and effort had been put in to so many different projects, I just hope they all got the appreciation they deserve. I just managed to catch the klezmer band after our performance in the foyer and a another dance project in our break before sound check.


After all this hard work, it was time to wrap it up and celebrate by going to the pub for a good pint or two! It has been great to finish my Colab experience at trinity with a great project.



Colab Day 4

Already we are at the penultimate day to our concert.

The day started with our usual warm ups and group concentration games. Now the games and movements started to move towards martial arts and aikidoo, as we started to introduce certain movements and breathing patterns to control our motions. The games started to become more complex and challenged our use of peripheral vision and sense of sound. The idea is to process the now, not to overload our brain with thoughts which will affect our performance. One of the exercises we completed was having a circle of people with multiple balls being thrown, in which we had to pass the ball randomly however by making visual contact with the person.IMG_6271

Nik talks briefly about how many path ways and connections that can be made between different people and how miscommunication leads to the ball being dropped or the mind overloaded by information coming from multiple sources.

After this we followed an exercise on the use of peripheral vision to enhance spacial awareness for communication on stage. We moved using only what we could see on our outer vision to avoid collisions and then switching between normal focal view and peripheral to be aware of more things in our area. Furthering to this we developed our sense of others presence by focusing on one person and kept attention to where they were even if they went out of sight.


After our first break it was time to continue refining and practicing module 42. Many transitions needed to be worked on between sections, and thus repetition was kept to making the whole piece settle. New ideas and changes were appearing in the dancers too, so the only way to progress was to repeat and repeat.


The first run through for the musicians can be found here:

We played to the dancers so they could get a greater idea of structure and how they needed to distribute their material over the length of the piece. After we had played we sat down and discussed our options.




After this creative discussion it was time to try ideas and see how they fit. After a couple of false starts.

After this we wan the piece twice, they can be found here:

The next step was to put the two pieces together. At the time unfortunately I could not capture this, however it was successful and gave us our first full insight to the whole performance. Lasting around 20mins both pieces are very contrasting, one faster pace and agitated the other with groove.

One more intense rehearsal in the morning and then the performance.


See you at the bonnie bird theatre, Laban building creek side for our performance at 9pm!!

Colab day 3

Day 3 followed a similar format today two but with further investigation and depth into the ideas we have been studying. The warm up today consisted of a few variations on the clapping game. It has become apparent after a nights sleep that the process of the game has settled in people’s mind and that they are able to deal with the ‘now’ much easier. Now when a person makes a mistake it doesn’t affect the flow as much as it used to or others are able to cover for a mistake that has been made.

After we had warmed up we moved straight to the first piece playing it from start to finish. This made us start thinking to the performance space and that we should change a few aspects to move the band more towards the dancers so that there can be interaction. A second run brought about this and so now the dancers can surround the band. This piece has now formed and is read to perform, allowing us to move on to the next piece.

Here is our run through


At this point we separated the dancers and the musicians to be able to go away and work on individual tasks. The band had only reached half way through the piece so we needed to learn the second half. Although ‘simple’ in its note choice the rhythmic integration and poly rhythmic nature of the music is a big challenge to me. With multiple sub divisions happening at once, I find rhythmic independence a great struggle and being able to switch between different subdivision’s pulses.  Before lunch we reached the end of the piece and finalised the structure. The second half contains and interlude, more subdivisions and shifts of key.

Whilst we were working hard rehearsing the dancers were formulating and structuring their routine to the first half of the music.

The band working on the pieces:


After lunch we extended the clapping game by introducing shakers to work on rhythmic independence. This brought another level of independent thought as you had to multitask keeping a regular rhythm with the shaker whilst passing the numbers or claps in the right direction. It was very apparent that one group succeeded much more than the others. Despite working in time and moving to rhythm – the dancers struggled greatly with being able to independently control these three things, however it must be said that for freedom of motion and movement the musicians are stiffer than a plank of wood. It surprised me greatly however as dancers have to use so much rhythm in their work that keeping even tempo or changing the tempo was a great challenge for them.

Here is a short video of the game:


The final part of the day was putting together the dancers and the musicians for the whole of the second piece, module 42.

We had several run throughs and here are a couple of takes:


The final arrangement has been set, so the dancers set to work on extending what they were doing. It was apparent that there needed to be more material as we had a shortfall between the piece and the dancers. Tomorrow we will work on bringing the two together and starting to put the final structure in place ready for the performance.


De brief of the day:


Colab Day 2

‘Do not Analyse or you will be thinking in the past, when you perform play in the present’


Todays colab started with an extension of yesterdays exercises. further motion study and clapping games to continue the development of the group and the process of working together. Here is a short clip of one of the games where the number is passed one way and the clap the other. The combination fell on to my self which caused a brain overload, which then led on to the discussion from Nik about being in the present rather than analysing what you are doing. Let the subconcious mind control as the concious mind can only process one thought at a time. This relates very well to the art of performing as mistakes arise but you have to keep going, the moment you analyse you affect the next moments of the performance.

One of Nik’s games was to try and balance a ball on your head whilst trying to keep freedom in the rest of your body and draw attention to how the spine is shaped, as can be seen in the first photo. ( I tried doing this for the rest of the day as my posture is something that needs much improving!)

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After the first break we performed the first piece, to see where we had got to. We were now joined by a choreographer to help form the ideas that were presented. Once a few moments of discussion had taken place and a few trial ideas has been put together the whole thing had taken shape. IMG_6252

Whilst on my lunch, I stopped at the cafe to ‘experience’ the small flash mob performance of contemporary dance in the cafe. As every one was having their lunch as usual, 2 dancers suddenly broke in to contemporary movement, much to the others suprise. Mind you, its colab so anything can happen. Heres a video of this



After lunch was the start of the next piece. Module 42. In similar construction to the previous piece it contains many poly rhythms with 5 being imposed over 9 along with 3. For me this piece formed much quicker than module 17 and was much easier to grasp. The piece is built on augmented triads moving major 3rds with open 9th voicings. Of course this is a vague description but is a small key to how the piece works. Imediatly as we started playing this piece, the dancers were in discussion on what to do. It seemed to flow easier with the dancers due to the longer and slower moving pulse which under lies the piece. The natural attraction was to a longer phrase length rather than the quaver pulse in module 17.IMG_6251

Heres nik talking about longer phrase lengths

Here is a link to the rehearsal of the piece.


The de brief for the day can be found here:


Jean working on some hot licks:



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Colab Day One

As part of the requirements for the Colab module at trinity laban, we keep a daily blog of events happening and our experience through out the week or the day.

This weeks project is titled Nik Bärtsch’s – Music and Dance. Urban groove habitats, Ecstasy through Asceticism. It is a collaborative project between musicians and dancers performing and creating art from 3 of Nik Bärtsch’s compositions. The goal is to develop a modular, flowing performance in which music and dance-patterns are given as stimulus so dance and music can influence each during the performance.

To start we did some warm up exercises which were an extension of my year one engaging audiences. We did team building exercises to develop presence, awareness, rhythm training and to get to know each other. This envolved various clapping games, group challenges, movement exercises to get sense of grounding and connection to the body. It was also to develop a sense of universal mind, by being aware of others actions, motions, space and time by collectively trying to match rhythms by passing balls.


A personal note that became apparent is lack of flexibility and motion in my own body when in comparison to others and especially the dancers. It is apparent I need to re gain motion in my body to help with my playing. IMG_6240

Something that has become apparent is the ‘meditative’ nature of the music due to its repetition. You have to repeat the music until it enters part of the subconscious as the conscious brain can only process one thought at a time. This then allows you to open your mind to minor variations or focus on other things that others are doing.

Here’s a link to our first run through ‘Module 17’:

Here are the three pieces we will be using as stimulus this week.

Modul 17:

Modul 42:

Modul 22:

All pieces are also in different interpretations:

Any body guess what im listening to whilst I write this blog???



Having lunch with the lads!



From the Peacock Room to the Burberry Greenhouse

Stephen Street recently reached that scary point in life when a road, or let’s say a Street, ends and you find yourself at a very important junction. After a breathtaking final recital that marked the end of his four years at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance studying jazz and classical double bass courses, Stephen was offered to join a fantastic musical company on their UK tour and a full scholarship to study a classical double bass Masters at Trinity.

It was indeed very hard to choose from an invaluable work experience that would expose him to the country’s most renowned professionals and the unique opportunity to further his studies at one of the best music conservatoires under the guidance of some of the most distinguished music teachers in the UK. Although he felt he could not make a better decision but to further his studies, Stephen wanted his opportunity to shine and boost his confidence.

After only a couple of days following his final recital and decision to accept his full scholarship for the Trinity masters, Stephen received an offer to join what certainly was the most opulent 24-piece orchestra he has ever had the chance to join. Here he is, with his splendid double bass, all suited and booted in a classic Made in Italy Burberry tailored suit, performing in the Burberry Greenhouse in Kensington Gardens during the Burberry Prorsum Menswear S/S16 fashion show.

So, sit comfortably, treat yourself to a classic afternoon tea, and enjoy this luxurious 20 minute fashion show, accompanied by the music of one of the most elegant 24-piece orchestra. And, if like me, you love fashion and music, well… It can’t get any better than this.

Click here to watch the Burberry Prorsum Menswear S/S16 featuring double bassist Stephen Street.

Courtesy of Emily Fontana

Ph: Burberry (