The exam board AQA’s new specification for GCSE Dance, which was accredited last week, includes a focus on promoting excellence in dance to disabled and non-disabled young people. AQA signalled its intension by selecting Artificial Things by Stopgap Dance Company as one of six compulsory works to be studied by GCSE students.
Artificial Things has been included alongside works such as Infra by Wayne McGregor and Shadows by Christopher Bruce, and it is an indication of the growing importance that disability dance now has in the British arts scene.
Stopgap Dance Company is a resident company at Farnham Maltings and The University of Surrey, where it makes dance works with exceptional disabled and non-disabled performers. The company tours these works internationally to critical acclaim.
Lucy Bennett, Stopgap’s Artistic Director and the choreographer of Artificial Things, said:
“I am delighted that Stopgap’s work has been included in Dance GCSE. The company has some of the best disabled and non-disabled dancers, and they all played a key part in devising Artificial Things with me. Stopgap is constantly discovering new choreographic approaches for a diverse cast, and all of us at the company are looking forward to sharing our knowledge with young people. Diversity is a real source for innnovation because it opens up artists to wider creative possibilities. It contributes hugely to giving British dance industry a cutting edge in the international scene, and getting more young people to appreciate diversity can only be a positive for the future of our industry.”
Artificial Things features the acclaimed disabled dancer David Toole, who caught the public’s eye through his main role in The Cost of Living by DV8 Physical Theatre, and more recently as the soloist in London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony. He said:
“I’ve been working as a performer for some time, but I am particularly impressed with Lucy’s ability to incorporate each dancer’s unique physicality in her works.”
Stopgap Dance Company is the leading expert in what they term as ‘inclusive dance and choreography’, and it has an excellent track record of training the next generation of disabled dance artists. The company will be working with AQA’s Performing Arts team to create videos and other resources to help teachers and students embrace these methodologies through Dance GCSE.
Seb Ross, AQA Art and Performing Arts Qualifications Manager, said:
“We’re proud that students will have the chance to study Stopgap Dance Company’s choreography as part of our Dance GCSE. Artificial Things is a stunning example of inclusive dance work and we hope it will provide inspiration to disabled and non-disabled young dancers alike. This is an important moment – it’s the first time that it has been mandatory for all Dance GCSE students to study the work involving disabled professional practitioners.”
The new Dance GCSE sepcification will come into use from September 2016.