It’s the start of the year, so everyone is making (and breaking) resolutions. But at The Place, the King’s Cross centre for contemporary dance, a very different Resolution is being prepared.
This Resolution is a dance festival – the biggest showcase of new dance in the UK, in fact. Staged annually for nearly 30 years, it has offered early glimpses of the work of many leading British choreographers.
Lead producer Jessica Greer tells us more about the six-week event and what to expect from 2018’s Resolution festival:
What is Resolution?
Resolution is the UK’s largest festival for new dance. It’s staged at The Place, home of London’s boldest dance theatre, located in the heart of King’s Cross. Resolution is the place to discover the unexpected, be entertained, rub shoulders with dancers in the bar between shows and possibly discover the next big thing in dance.
Resolution is a fixture in the UK dance calendar. It’s been running for 29 years and has featured over 2000 artists. Almost all of today’s top UK-based contemporary choreographers presented their earliest work at this platform. This includes Wayne McGregor, Hofesh Shechter, Kate Prince, Luca Silvestrini and, more recently, Tony Adigun, James Cousins and Sarah Blanc.
Why was Resolution created?
John Ashford, who was the Director of Theatre at The Place from 1986 to 2009, created the festival. He saw that there was a need to create a platform for supporting very early stage work by emerging artists. Resolution festival helps to take ideas from the studio to the stage.
Has the festival changed since it was first launched?
Yes and no. The festival always runs between January and February, but each year we listen to feedback from the artists that take part and tailor the process to best suit their needs.
The secret to its success is the amazing amount of talented emerging artists out there and the need for a professional platform to showcase them. That, and a lot of hard graft by the selected artists and the team at The Place. It’s relevant and reinvents itself every year naturally due to the variety of artists that apply. The focus of the festival is on artist development. We think that’s very important and it’s reflected in how we interact with those involved.
Over the months between selection and performance, we offer specialist workshops led by industry professionals designed to complement the process. These can range from marketing and press, technical skills and lighting design, dramaturgical advice or project management. It’s a full-on programme but one designed to offer the widest support we can throughout the artists’ journey with us.
What do you look for when programming the festival?
Resolution is a festival of new ideas. Most of the work shown in Resolution is premieres, pieces brought to life for the very first time. In that regard the programming team take a leap of faith based on the ideas of the applicants. An element of surprise and risk characterises Resolution as we don’t know how things will evolve from that first spark, so it’s wonderful to see the concepts come into creation.
For me, one of the most interesting elements of Resolution is the breadth of work shown during the festival. As the boundaries between art forms grow increasingly blurred, we have made a conscious effort to reflect this shift. It makes for a diverse, interesting and eclectic series of programming that can range from what is considered more recognisable contemporary dance to other styles such as hip hop, performance art, contemporary circus and physical theatre. The brief is that the work is contemporary in ideas and content – no matter what style or form it might take. It allows for a snapshot of the UK at the current time – overlapping themes and issues are portrayed in completely different and nuanced ways.
The performance in Resolution isn’t the end of the journey for the selected artists. Lots use it as a springboard to get their work seen by other venues and programmers. Others use the video footage we provide free of charge to apply to other festivals, both in the UK and abroad. Some we will see in the festival again, returning to test out a new idea. For a few we will continue on a journey with them, offering up support in a new way.
Which show would you recommend for someone who’s never been to Resolution Festival before?
One critic summed it up using the words of Forrest Gump: “It’s like a box of chocolates – you never quite know what you are going to get.” I can’t tell you which night to come to or pick a festival highlight; each night is so different and diverse, exciting and unpredictable that you will have to come and take a look for yourself. If you can’t decide, you can always take our handy quiz to help find the perfect night for you.
Which show would you recommend for someone who’s a Resolution festival regular?
If you are already a regular you’ll probably be up for taking a leap of faith and choosing any night that takes your fancy. Or you might know a particular artist or dancer who is in one of the pieces and want to come and support them.
What has been your own Resolution highlight?
I’ve had loads over the years! We’ve had dancing politicians, gravity-defying acrobatics, dances only seen in your imagination and the dramaturgical journey of a goat. And that’s just since I’ve been here!
I joined the programming team at The Place four years ago, which just so happened to coincide with the opening night of the festival that year. It was an exhilarating experience, and also one that confirmed my love of producing live theatre. I get a buzz from supporting artists to make great work from first seed to curtain call with all the literal blood, sweat and tears in between. Resolution has since become my favourite season to return to each year to see another batch of new ideas brought to life.