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Alumni commissioned to create interactive digital work

Wed 5 May 2021

John Darvell and John Chambers are part of creative team for The RIDDLE

Under the Artistic Direction of Trinity Laban alum John Darvell, NOCTURN collaborates with artists across genres to develop a unique blend of dance, accessible technology and interactive events.

Their latest creation, The RIDDLE, is a fun, interactive outdoor experience,  produced by Spin Arts, that focuses on society’s consumption of digital technology.

The experience is a commission for Greenwich Dance’s ArtsUnboxed programme, which is a new way to safely create, produce and tour work in 2021 funded by the Culture Recovery Fund.

Unlike a traditional production, there is no live event. Instead, audiences can download The RIDDLE for free and engage in the adventure at their own pace.

Participants help the central character Pæn re-engage with the wonders of the outdoors by hunting down QR codes, solving riddles and making and sharing their own dance moves. Audiences can even use NOCTURN’s Spotify playlist to add to the mood as they explore.

“Your mobile phone is part of the problem – and the solution!”, explains Darvell, who is the show’s Director and Choreographer.

He continues –

“This is our first outdoor work and a new exciting development for the company. It is also a work which responds to the restrictions and impact of COVID-19 and can be engaged with during these difficult times.”

Darvell’s professional journey into dance began at 37 when he decided to retrain in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban, leaving the security of day-to-day office work. He completed his Postgraduate Certificate in Community Dance in 2007 and has spent the last decade forging a remarkable approach to creating and choreographing work, placing community interaction and inclusion at the heart of his creative process.

The creative team behind The RIDDLE also includes fellow alum John Chambers, who wrote the music for the digital experience. The freelance composer, sound designer and lyricist graduated from Trinity Laban in 2008 with BMus (Hons) in composition. During his studies, he won the Daryl Runswick Prize, the John Halford Prize, and the Chappell Prize.

Chambers and Darvell first worked together while both studying at Trinity Laban, collaborating on Darvell’s final choreographic project ‘No More’. They have been collaborating ever since and Darvell describes Chambers as “the musical backbone” for many of NOCTURN’s pieces.

“He’s very talented in understanding the needs of a piece and creating a musical landscape which helps drive the narrative forward. He’s brilliant at marrying two opposing creative needs together which is no easy task.”

Chambers says –

“Over the years we’ve developed a good creative understanding of each other’s style, which means I was able to quickly compose the music for The RIDDLE – speed is crucial for a tightly scheduled project where the score has to happen in pre rather than postproduction.

“It’s been great seeing dance artist Tom Davis Dunn embody and respond to my score, and I look forward to members of the public being able to experience the work for themselves.”

The team received the commission at the end of 2020 and started work on the project in January.

On receiving the commission at the end of 2020 Darvell comments –

“It was amazing news for us especially as when everything else had gone back into lockdown. A bit of a lifesaving project to be involved in.”

The RIDDLE launches as part of ArtsUnboxed in May 2021.

Discover more about studying at Trinity Laban.

Image L-R: John Chambers (credit Pauline Chambers); John Darvell (credit Savannah Photographic)