BLINK Dance Theatre

Inclusive Dance and Drama Workshops in London

PULL UP Professional Development

Project PULL UP: what will the future hold?

Photo credit: Rachel Cherry. Delson is a black man in his 30’s, tall and average build. He is in a suit with a large silver bling chain. Delson is balancing confidently on a red carpet on one leg pointing directly into the camera.

Photo credit: Rachel Cherry. Delson is a black man in his 30’s, tall and average build. He is in a suit with a large silver bling chain. Delson is balancing confidently on a red carpet on one leg pointing directly into the camera.

CONTEXT:

Last year our Co-Director Delson received a commission from Unlimited to direct his own work. In Winter 2017 Project PULL UP was born. Phase one of the project Delson composed an original 11 track album, phase two he devised a live animation of each track, which was performed by members of BLINK.

The album debuted live in Romania and the full show previewed at Goldsmith’s University. PULL UP then went on to be performed at Crystal Palace Festival and ROAR festival Oxford.

Delson was well chuffed with the project, but didn’t want it to stop there; so we set about exploring the options for the future…

Delson using the Makaton Mychoice app on his iPad to communicate

Delson using the Makaton Mychoice app on his iPad to communicate

STAGE ONE:

Delson met with Fiona Slater from Shape Arts, his key contact for the Unlimited Commission. He reflected on PULL UP and decided the music and live work were finished, but he would like to explore making a music video plus keep developing his drawings. Delson secured some more funding for mentoring and professional development to explore the options…

 
Delson, Slyvia and Seb are sitting at a table in the  Lyric Hammersmith  foyer looking at a laptop

Delson, Slyvia and Seb are sitting at a table in the Lyric Hammersmith foyer looking at a laptop

MEETING 1:

First Delson chose the tracks he would most like to see in music video form. Then we met with film makers Sylvia Entwistle and Sebastian Hinds who had 3 routes to pitch to Delson with reference films for him to watch.


Delson’s self portrait of his own foot on wooden decking. To the left of his foot he has drawn a colourful joyful cartoon character

Delson’s self portrait of his own foot on wooden decking. To the left of his foot he has drawn a colourful joyful cartoon character

 PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Delson likes to try things out to see if he likes them before he makes a decision.

Seb set Delson a practical task to take some photos and then see if he liked drawing over the top of them. This was inline with one of the reference videos.

Delson communicated he really liked his drawings being in ‘his world’.


WORKSHOP 1:

Delson was sure he wanted real life film as opposed to pure animation but he was not sure what effects he would or would not like in the film. So we went to the Gate Arts Centre to have a look at their green screen. We had lots of fun and Delson left with a good idea of what could be achieved. He had a go at directing the videos; choosing backdrops, music and performers.

WORKSHOP 2:

We were invited to Queen Mary’s University for second workshop to look at their Motion Capture equipment.

Technical Manager and MoCAP researcher David Wright demonstrated some of the uses of MoCAP then we had a go. Professional dancer Junior Nwachukwu joined us alongside Co-Director Francis Majekodunmi so Delson could have a go at directing as well as participating.


DISCOVERIES:

Delson communicated his vision for the film:

DO’s:

  • To use the track ‘dealing’

  • Want it to have a ‘real life’ and urban feel

  • Use some performers to bring to life his perception of ‘the streets’

  • In his area

  • Him to do some filming

  • To include his drawings if possible

DON’T’s

  • Cartoons/ animation

  • Stop motion style

  • Green screen was ok, but only when it adds to urban landscape (such as graffiti) not fantastical

MEETING 2:

Sylvia is posing on some decking in the sun standing with her hands outstretched and a big smile. Delson has drawn a colourful line drawing to her left.

Sylvia is posing on some decking in the sun standing with her hands outstretched and a big smile. Delson has drawn a colourful line drawing to her left.

We meet film maker Sylvia who pitched a final idea to Delson which encompassed all of Delson’s vision preferences and put him firmly in the directors chair.

The idea also problem solved the reality Delson has no filming training. He also has some fine motor and mobility difficulties which have previously prevented him pursuing filming.

 

DRUMROLL PLEASE….

 

THE IDEA:

To use a camera (such as a GoPro) which would strap to Delson and follow him in a self directed journey. Delson loved this idea so we did a very impromptu mini test run in Delson’s ends.

We have since been in conversation with animation artist Isabella Rose Nelson who has had some amazing ideas about how to layer Delson’s drawings on top of the film.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

So with all the findings we hope to secure some funding to make this a reality for Delson soon. Watching the footage from the test shoot, and also just observing the process I was alarmed about how many people were staring at Delson as we walked. Far more than my experience as a white non-disabled woman. As a non-verbal learning disabled black man Delson rarely gets a chance to show the world how things are from his perspective.

We hope to create an accessible exhibition which showcases the music video, plus a documentary showing our process as well as some immersive activities. The film would then tour film festivals.

Thanks so much for reading, if you have any ideas or suggestions about how to take this project to the next stage or any thoughts at all please do comment below!

Thanks to Unlimited, Shape Arts and Spirit of 2012 for making this research possible.


(This blog was written by Co-director Vicki on observation of Delson’s process and with direction from him on his behalf as he is not able to type).