UCL East


Blog: Dancing can illustrate a sequence of stories

4 December 2020

Seren Metcalfe, one of the two Student Artists in Residence in 2019/20, writes about her artistic research and the journey she embarked on in this UCL East residency.

Artwork from Seren Metcalfe that is looking at decibels in sound, as part of the UCL East student artist in residence scheme.

In September 2020, I was appointed Student Artist in Residence for a year-long residency at UCL EAST to create work alongside the development of the new UCL site in Stratford.

Throughout the year, I have immersed myself in the building and development of the site and have been gathering research with the intention of creating a performance with East London dancers, displaying my findings through movement. Throughout this project, I took part in various meetings and conversations with those working on the project - from planners, contractors and labourers to academics, community engagement teams and members of the local community. 

A common theme in this project was movement; whether that be designing the building to encourage movement of bodies through the space, movement in terms of positive change, or moving forward on a scheduled timeline.

I became interested in the idea of the timeline to create a musical and physical score. Timelines form a key part of the planning process, creating clear lines of past, present and future. As an Artist in Residence for something that is only in the beginnings of existing, I was effectively an Artist in Residence for a building site.

A lot of the conversations involved imagining the future.

My plan was to present a journey of research through an artist's lens: moving through the history and community of the site, language taken from conversations and meetings, diagrams from plans and the physical actions of the labourers. I wanted to create something that captured these movements within a timeline.

Dance to me was the perfect way to illustrate a sequence of stories and ideas. With dance, I could use the body to map the landscape and cover all bases of the term movement. I could use the body to tell the stories of the past, illustrate the diagrams from 2D to 3D and borrow movements of body language from those involved in the project. My intention was to work with a group of bodies from the East London area.

The soundtrack for the performance has been composed from sounds recorded on the construction site as well as drumming from East London's Pandemonium drummers. The sounds have been composed and produced by Harvey Klee.

Due to Covid-19, I decided to continue the performance virtually and contacted East London Tik Tokers to create a 15-minute Tik Tok. The Tik Tok dance was created with dancer and choreographer Chloe Walker.

You can view my work and research for UCL EAST on my website.

Watch the Tik Tok creation:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3DXtwq4X44&feature=emb_logo

Photo and video credit: Seren Metcalfe
Read a blog by Jacob Blackaller, the other 2019/20 Student Artist in Residence.