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Guide to CoLab 2020

Fri 7 February 2020

Our annual two-week cross-faculty Festival of Creativity is back for 10 – 21 February 2020.

Head of CoLab Joe Townsend comments –

“CoLab is a time of imagination, experimentation and risk where students are empowered to take control of their creative learning. By working together across disciplines students develop core skills needed to flourish in the competitive and varied arts industry. Through initiatives like CoLab, Trinity Laban is driving a revolution in learning and performance that is recognised across the world.”

Over 1000 students, staff and visiting artists will join forces for CoLab 2020 to create, develop and rehearse 115 diverse projects in response to the theme of ‘what I care about’. 

The result is a series of informal sharings that give the audience a chance to see what goes on under our roof, culminating in a Valentine’s Day event across our faculty sites (14 Feb) and the CoLab Proms at Blackheath Halls (21 Feb).

Now in its ninth year, CoLab’s unique approach to learning and teaching has attracted international attention and acclaim. For 2020, we look forward to welcoming students and leading educators from international institutions across the globe including National Taiwan University of Arts, University of Southern California, University of Music and Performing Arts (Graz), University of Michigan, Codarts (Rotterdam), Utrecht Conservatorium, and Liszt Academy (Hungary) who will be participating in CoLab projects alongside Trinity Laban.

In collaboration with Liszt Academy (Hungary) and University of Music and Performing Arts (Graz), we have the privilege of hosting a Gala Concert dedicated to the Blackfoot First Nations people of Canada (18 Feb ORNC Chapel). Conducted by Head of Strings Nic Pendlebury with viola soloists Rivka Golani and Péter Bársony, the special performance sees the world premieres of 10 new compositions written by distinguished composers from around the globe: Luis Caballeria Barrera, Quim Miracle, David Jaeger, Na’ama Tamir Kaplan, Charles Heller, Benjamin Ellin, Oded Zehavi, Máté Balogh, Máté Hollós, and Adam Kondor. Trinity Laban professor, Rivka Golani has been made a sister of Blackfoot First Nations people of Canada, the culmination of a relationship stretching back two decades.

All female collective Mass Hysteria presents THE GAME (18 Feb, TATE Modern), a day of exploring the themes of female power. Drawing on the embodied experience of womxn and femmes, the audience is invited to observe and take part in activities surrounding image, technology, hierarchies, and the body. There will also be a discussion hosted by Independent Dance’s co-director, Gitta Wigro. Founded in 2017 by 11 dance artists, Mass Hysteria is a recipient of the Trinity Laban Innovation Award which provides a unique opportunity for emerging artists to access professional development support as they establish themselves within one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy.

We also have an exciting selection of visiting industry experts leading projects this year:

  • Led by a director, composer and vocal director from award-winning performance arts charity Streetwise Opera, students collaborate with people affected by homelessness on a newly devised work. (21 Feb, Blackheath Halls)
  • Trinity Laban join forces with Brighton Youth Orchestra and Sir John Tomlinson for side-by-side performances and recordings including the world premiere of Salamanca 1936 by Peter Copley and Ekstasis by Sir John Tavener. (20 Feb, ORNC Chapel)
  • Acclaimed international artist, composer and researcher Hyelim Kim promotes an exchange with a wide variety of musical cultures by leading Singing with Nature: Intercultural Improvisation Ensemble (21 Feb, Blackheath Halls), an improvisation on Korean instruments using their natural materials as inspiration.
  • Poet Andrew Mitchell leads Voyage with Charles Darwin (21 Feb, Laurie Grove), a project that follows Darwin’s encounters with different places and cultures and shows how his ideas change on his journey.
  • Nigerian-British keyboard player Dele Sosimi – arguably the most influential artist working in today’s afrobeat scene in London, leads Fela the King, where students learn, play, dance and perform Afrobeat music (21 Feb, Blackheath Halls).

In the spirit of exchange, we are once again taking CoLab beyond South East London.

  • Codarts Exchange is an opportunity for our students to collaborate with students from Codarts in Rotterdam. The two-week project takes place in London (17-21 Feb) and then Rotterdam (23-27 March) where they will create a cross-disciplinary performance, involving jazz, dance, circus, musical theatre, new and classical music. It is part of the Incubator Programme run by Codarts Head of Production Jan Kuhr.
  • Continuing to build our links with Juilliard, our Trombone Choir will have an intensive rehearsal period to prepare British and American works ahead of their visit to New York later in the year.
  • Worker’s Union at Tate Exchange, TATE Modern (19 & 20 Feb) sees over 40 dancers and a musical ensemble respond to this seminal work by Louis Andriessen.
  • Music in hospital sees students collaborate with experienced arts and health music leader Jez Wiles and clinical and admin teams at Lewisham Hospital to explore the potential for creative and dynamic music performance in hospitals with patients and staff.

Renowned for its spirit of experimentation and collaboration, CoLab encompasses numerous styles, formats and settings. This year, several projects focus on activism and identity:

  • Deeds & Words (14 Feb, Laban Building), led by composer Diedre Gribbin, aims to create a compilation of short pieces exploring the themes that flow through the waves of Feminism, showing the similarities between Suffragettes and modern day.
  • Climate Crisis (14 Feb, Laban Building) asks what the role of the arts is in current climate activism and how can we create a cultural democracy that supports this through discussion, debate and creative connection across generations in collaboration with our Voices in Motion programme for older people.
  • Adventure in Discretion (21 Feb, Laurie Grove) is a new workshop musical, portraying the views of the people and touching on the UK’s most controversial issue of the moment: Brexit.
  • Trinity Laban Fulbright Scholar Garrett Snedeker leads musicians and dancers in an exploration of what identity means by performing new music and movement inspired by a Beethoven piano sonata, binary constructions, and creative responses to one another(Beethoven + Identity, 21 Feb, Blackheath Halls).

Ever evolving, CoLab is a hotbed for new work and innovation:

  • In advance of our Trinity Laban Opera’s world-premiere production of Syllable in December 2020, composer Edward Jessen leads an exploration of the opera’s characters, their singing, their actions and interplay with Syllable Opera characters and characteristics (14 Feb, KCC).
  • Trillium (21 Feb, Blackheath Halls) is a creative exploration of the connection between humans and plants and how they impact on each other and utilises technology which translates plant frequencies into sound.

Further highlights of this year’s collaborative festival include:

  • 80’s Symphonic Orchestra who will play some of the iconic decade’s best Pop, Rock, Funk and Film music. (21 Feb, Blackheath Halls)
  • A focus on Hugh Masekela, one of South Africa’s greatest jazz musicians and composers (South African Jazz, 21 Feb, Blackheath Halls)

The institutional-wide interdisciplinary event of exchange and discovery kicks off on Monday 10 February.

For more information on all the projects and how to get tickets please visit our CoLab page.


Image credit JK Photography