A Lighting Designer’s Gift

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750 746 The Red Line

A first step in collaborating with a lighting designer, supported by South East Dance’s Flourish Bursary


A huge thank you to South East Dance and their Flourish Bursary, their kind support has allowed me to begin my collaboration with lighting designer Vanessa Brooker.




As an emerging artist and a recent graduate, it has been a tough year and a half of understanding the dance world. I was very fortunate to become Lîla Dance’s apprentice straight out of training where they supported me to dive straight into learning about Arts Council Funding and the skills to support myself as a dance artist.

In early 2017 we then began the research and development of my new work Turtle Dove. The work looks at humanities notion of love, it is told by real people’s accounts of companionship and compromise. It focuses on the heart-warming, heart-aching and perhaps funny at times tales of a life with love.


After finishing the 3 weeks R&D it was time to get sharing the work-in-progress. Our first sharing was at The University of Chichester where many friends, family, teachers and students came to support.

On the back of this sharing I decided that the work was then equipped to be taken to Resolutions at The Place. I felt that the work was ready but it needed a lighting design to enhance the fragmented story line of Turtle Dove. This would not have been possible without the Flourish Bursary and I am very grateful for South East Dance’s kind support.

In late November 2018, I met with Vanessa Brooker to begin our collaboration. Vanessa was already buzzing with ideas from the footage I had previously sent to her and we chatted for hours about all the different possibilities there were for Turtle Dove. Vanessa (a fellow Chichester University graduate) was extremely helpful and fantastically patient with me as I only really knew the basics potentials for the work!




Our next meeting involved studio time – we were fortunate enough to receive space-in-kind from the University of Chichester and support from Natalie Rowlands to physically see what the space was going to look like. It was great to be able to chat with Vanessa about how I wanted it to look and how I wanted the audience to feel in each moment. Vanessa provided so many possibilities and really challenged me in what I wanted to say with the work.

For our next and final meeting, Vanessa had created the design and we were ready to start running it with myself and dance partner Joe Darby in the space. The day ran so smoothly as we tried and tested each section of the work.

It was then time for Resolutions. Our tech slot started at 12 o’clock and it was just fantastic to have Vanessa there – I felt in very safe hands. The rig was a lot bigger from the one we had been working with and it was amazing to see how Vanessa adjusted to it, suddenly all the ideas Vanessa had drawn out for me came to life and the space was transformed.

The performance went the best it could have gone and there were many excited comments after the show about the lighting.

This year myself and Lîla Dance have plans to develop Turtle Dove into a 40-minute work and I am extremely excited to continue the collaboration with Vanessa throughout the year.


Photo credit: Brandon Clarke

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