• Photo: Chris Parkes
  • Photo: Chris Parkes
  • Photo: Chris Parkes
  • Photo: Chris Parkes
  • Photo: Chris Parkes

Stopgap Dance Company residency

Dancers from Stopgap Dance Company worked with French acrobats Michael Pallandre and Caroline Leroy from Collectif Prêt-à-Porter at Farnham as part of PASS in December.

The dancers benefitted hugely from the experience and are now back in the studio revising some of the skills they learnt. Many of these have sparked ideas for new movement material which will be developed for The Enormous Room, Stopgap’s next show to be premiered in Spring 2017.

One of the key things the Stopgap dancers really appreciated was how well prepared the acrobats were, and how much thought they had put in to working with an inclusive group. The learning process was broken down so well that the disabled performers could really get their teeth into translating the taught material. The dancers were pushed out of their comfort zones and challenged to take risks.

Stopgap’s learning disabled dancer Chris Pavia wrote a short blog about the experience:

‘I learnt a lot of new things with the circus group over the last week, a lot of new challenging acrobatics, which I’ve never done before. Such as being base and also the tuck and roll backwards was challenging but in a good way. It was very interesting and I found it difficult to do some of the acrobatics.

I liked how they explained what to do and took it step-by-step and demonstrated. That’s how you become a dancer too by learning from others and this is something that I can do in 2015.

I also liked doing the falling backwards from being up high. I fell from two stacked tables and then I took it to another level and it was incredibly fun and exciting.

Some of the other things we worked on were our handstands. We learnt to push into the floor with your hands and jumpy both legs up in a bent position and you also have to remember not to arch your back. And it is the same when you do headstands as well. These are things I can take away from learning acrobatics.

I’ve enjoyed working with the circus group and watching them was an inspiration. Watching their work was an example of learning something new and fresh. The hardest thing I found was the forward rolls and holding onto some else’s legs because you have to make sure that you keep the momentum going.’

Chris Pavia (Stopgap Dance Company)

The PASS Circus Channel project is a 3 year cross-Channel contemporary circus programme funded through the Interreg IV programme co-funded by the ERDF.

Note: in October 2020 we updated this gallery of images to celebrate the life of Dave Toole.