CoLab 2021 /
a digital iteration
Every year, CoLab features dozens of projects which have been proposed and developed by students, staff or invited guests. Students receive expert mentorship and guidance from Trinity Laban professors, or from visiting artists from around the world.
Projects often include an exciting range of styles and influences, exploring subject matters such as literature and art, community relationships, world-music, gender, and politics.
Find out more…
What is CoLab?
Joe Townsend explains
“CoLab 2021 is completely online and digital, so don’t expect the usual interactions, processes and performances. However, human endeavour is infinitely more adaptable, ingenious and creative than the limitations of the tools we have to make our art. I really believe that it is down to everyone in our community to make CoLab a unique rich learning experience as we support each other in making a new kind of creative experience. Whether your project is the juxtaposition of art forms or an immersion in the skills of others, it is a challenge that we should all relish and even take delight in. And, as we emerge from solitude we will look back on this crazy and sometimes frustrating time and be able to say that we were there. Have a great CoLab.”
Joe Townsend (head of CoLab)
Welcome to CoLab 2021
Welcome message, Frankenstein, live music and improvisation
Dive deeper /
Over the course of the fortnight we spoke to three of our CoLab mentors about their experience of the digital festival.
Singer, songwriter and facilitator Lilli Unwin reminded us that “creativity wasn’t cancelled” and shared her mentoring tips. Her groups focused on exploring breath and turned to daily walks for inspiration.
Rome-based live-event producer, pianist and composer Dave Morecroft has been involved with CoLab for the last four years running Brexchange. For 2021 he focused on body percussion as a way to create sound without instruments, inspired by artists like Pentatonix. He told us what collaboration means to him.
Theatre-maker, writer, poet and performer Claudia Creed mentored ‘Breaking The Binary’, a project exploring the roles and expectations of gender. We caught up with her to find out more about her work, and what she hopes students will gain from the project. Watch the interview.
Over the two weeks the Brand and Communications team was supported by a team of students from across the TL community. They were the eyes and ears for all things CoLab and kept everybody up to date throughout the festival. Find out what how they found the experience and what their CoLab highlight was.
Second-year MT student Callum Bruce – “It’s great working alongside and being mentored by experienced professionals. It’s satisfying looking back each day and seeing our work on TL social media.”
Third-year pianist Ellen Taylor – “I am enjoying seeing the blossoming creativity of the first-year students in such trying times. They are adapting so well and have so many great ideas for their final videos!”
Masters composition student Emily de Gruchy – “I’ve done the occasional social media post for promoting concerts, but I never really delved in deep enough to know why marketing is effective. That’s why I chose the co-pilots scheme – to understand the necessities of digital communication, and to patch up the gaps in my knowledge that I wish I’d known earlier! I’ve really enjoyed interviewing all different kinds of people during CoLab – I really like getting to know why they’re passionate about the things that they do.”
In week one of CoLab we saw inspiration, reflection, exploration, discussion and collaboration.
Day one of CoLab was a day of Inspiration – In each group, collaborators reflected on their worlds of art and culture. They gathered and shared their favourite pieces with each other to create. In each group, collaborators reflected on their worlds of art and culture. They gathered favourite pieces of work, music, writing. Through their musings they began creating.
BA1 Contemporary dance student Eera Gupta improvises to the song ‘Blackbird’. Experimenting with angles and the limits of the camera frame to create patterns reflected in the music.
Another CoLab group asked themselves this question: What did we go through last year? They took a piece of text as inspiration – something that has been significant and resonant over the past year and lockdown. “I instantly wondered if a Banana Bread recipe would be suitable. Certainly, for me baking Is never my strong point, but I really enjoyed making banana bread, and eating it!” (Rebecca Chandler, BMus1 Vocal Studies) This song is the result.
During day two, students have been exploring themselves, their bodies, their senses & their sense of place. Whilst collaborators reach out from their individual homes, they bring personal experience to the process.
“Inspired by musical works such as Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, Brad Mehldau’s Love Sublime and Mica Levi’s Love,” is how BA1 Contemporary Dance student Zoe Stevens began her creative process that day. “I created visual responses using coloured inks. I hope they will further influence directional or dynamic choices within future choreographic explorations.” Zoe’s group explored the process of ‘sampling’ or ‘lifting’ from previous works, experimenting with taking layers and manipulating them to create something new.
During a lunchtime walk, a student explored sense of place and musical improv through performance in the snow and Groups 15 & 16 experimented with making music through senses, sounds & body parts. They strayed away from the comfort of using their instruments and used their own bodies and voices. Their inspiration? Hermeto Pascoal – Mistérios do Corpo
Day 3 and our collaborators have started putting their thoughts & discussion into practice – through improvisation: Group 24 had a ‘Conducting Physically’ workshop – leading & arranging music via improvised dancing. Using physical signals to control tempo, pitch & volume to convey a shared approach to improv. The motivation was to make a visual connection with collaborators.
In Group 23 – Congling, Kornelia, Aleksandra, & Alessia Tomassi improvised based with rainforest imagery & sound. They have especially been focussing on global warming & deforestation this week.
During days 4 and 5 of CoLab, the collaborators have reflected on some amazing days and we are looking at process.
“As long as you’re alive, you’re breathing… It’s okay to just breath… It’s so, so important and I think we do take is for granted sometimes.”
Group 15 have focused on their breath. From meditative visuals showing the effects of breath to a soundscape made completely through what their lungs could muster.
We also asked our students what they enjoyed most about week 1 of CoLab Digital 2021.
Week 2 starts and all the collaborators have met up to talk about their projects. This week is all about exploring various art forms, process and collaboration.
On day one, one of the groups explored words and the art of poetry. “A work-in-progress, visual poem created digitally by the collective, drawing its words and sentences from free-writing and other poet’s works.” – Jessie Jing Is Ng.
Another group explored the predessor to modern-day: ‘mindfulness’. Student Matthieu Esnult says “[it] is a fantastic tool for musicians & dancers who want to have a pain-free body and a healthy mind… it can be done by anyone who would like to explore the mind body relationship”.
During day two, group 44 – ‘Transitions’ tried out a sequence on zoom. They experimented with the movements they discussed paired with various sounds.
Group 66 explored Yorùbá music alongside Ọlá Akindipe and Aanu Sodipe. When asked about the challenges of performing and collaborating online this year for CoLab, Amy was not deterred by the technological barriers: “I think the energy is all still there. Trying to get energy across on a screen is really hard work, but you can see that Ọlá and Aanu are really enthusiastic about their project and that brings it to life. That’s still there – it doesn’t matter that I’m sat behind a screen.”
On day three, each group is deep into their process, making notes, mindmaps and visual plans.
While pianist Christina Koti, is using eerie photos with literature by Edgar Allan Poe and music by Alexander Scriabin as visual and verbal promptsto create the ultimate amalgamation of spine-chilling, group 42 are blurring the lines between words and art as they explore the striking structures and sombre subtleties of concrete poetry.
On day 4 group 54 steps into an out of this world experience. They created a Sci-Fi Radio Play for which they were split into three groups Spaceships, Aliens and Planets and were workshopping ideas and building up different sounds created only by their voices and bodies.
In group ‘Kalaidescope’, Tamara is exploring other artforms as part of her creative, collaborative process. She worked on a Haiku and sketched an image to accompany it:
Silent stretches of
time. Propped up against a wall,
filed away in bed.
– Tamara, dance student
On day 5, the last day of CoLab, the collaborators are finalizing their projects. Group 40: Projection Vacancy have been experimenting with the intensity of stillness. This clip of Leah Wallace sums up the cloning they’ve been playing with this week in relation to life being “on hold”.
In another project, BMus Jazz Students Caius and Richie’s improvisational response in Greenwich Park to the music of composer and bassist Charles Mingus. They have been exploring the intricate elements of Mingus’ work through discussing and listening to a wide range of his discography.
For two weeks each year, CoLab provides a place to take risks, be creative and experiment within a rich and supportive environment. Over 800 students from across the Faculties of Dance and Music come together to create, develop and rehearse projects without the distraction of any other learning activities or performances.Find Out More
CoLab Projects 2020
CoLab’s festival atmosphere results in an abundance of performance events across Trinity Laban and beyond. Students in previous years have taken CoLab to the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Opera House and even to Aarhus Royal Academy of Music in Denmark.Discover our 2020 Projects