Creativity, arts and culture are at the heart of the University of Southampton experience, whether in supporting your studies or offering a range of activities to enjoy in your down time, with world-renowned music and arts venues found alongside numerous creative communities.Continue reading Arts at University of Southampton launches Home of Creativity student campaign
What is your role at Arts at University of Southampton?
I’ll be working as “Arts, Culture and Student Insights Coordinator” which is a fancy title I came up with to look cool on LinkedIn. In reality, it means I’ll be working closely with Louise Coysh and Jen Harris in the University’s Arts and Culture team, alongside our venues John Hansard Gallery and Turner Sims, to look at how we can develop the student experience around the University’s arts and culture offer. This involves supporting the student voice in the Heart of Campus project and city-wide cultural development. I’ll be particularly focused on making sure we have extensive student consultation and input!Continue reading Introducing Fiona Sunderland, Student Insights Coordinator with the Arts team
By Thea Hartman and Kate Briggs-Price
To our shame and huge excitement and curiosity, the opening night of ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s Heist was the first time either of us had seen a dance-only production. And on top of that, whilst between us we have a few years’ worth of mostly amateur dance experience, we know nothing about contemporary dancing, which was the show’s predominant style. In a nutshell, we went to the opening night of this show with absolutely no expectations and completely ready to see contemporary dance with fresh eyes.
And that is exactly what happened. As ZoieLogic Dance Theatre Artistic Director Zoie Golding expertly put it (she created the show after all), Heist mixes “the adventure of Mission Impossible, the gaming of Crystal Maze, and a little bit of the heart of The Goonies” – an emotionally dynamic, cleverly woven, action-packed show bursting with the most graceful moves which kept us on the edge of our seats throughout.
One of the most striking aspects of Heist was in the way it established the tone so promptly and accurately from the very first minute with the help of soundtrack and a villain with robotic moves, deeply unsettling facial expressions and Matrix-like costume. We like to think that we don’t get scared easily, but we definitely found ourselves huddling close into each other as the villain slowly approached our end of the stage. This almost instant characterization was also instilled into the four ‘good’ guys – despite there being absolutely no words spoken for the entire duration of the show, we quickly got a real sense of the dynamic between the characters in the first act, as their movements started to organize themselves into patterns and motifs to show their quirks and mannerisms, their teamwork and their willingness to do whatever it takes to escape the prison.
Interestingly, the storyline was quite minimalistic. Whilst the general plotlines were conveyed by the characters’ interaction with the set, the soundtrack and the dancers’ movements and facial expressions, the lack of words brought with itself a lack of specificity which Heist turned on its head into a vagueness encouraging audience engagement. We did not know exactly why the four men were imprisoned, or what they tried to set free at the end of it, but when we talked about it after coming out of the show we both thought it had something to do with identity. Whether or not that’s what it actually was about is a different question.
The great thing about the show is that none of this guesswork actually matters: you don’t get brownie points for identifying one specific metaphor the author wanted to convey. The focus was simply on how the incredibly skilful and graceful movements affected the audience’s emotions (and trust us, they did). The plot was merely shaped by some classic heist film tropes (e.g. the chase scene), and the fantastically adaptable set which enhanced the experience of the show by being as fluid as the dancers’ movements; the essence was all in the relationship between movements and emotion. As the dancers were climbing the prison’s walls showing some real parkour skills, we waited anxiously for them to fall. As they supported each other through their feeblest sequences of choreography we felt feeble with them. As they were running from the villain through the set which became a maze we were rooting for them to get away.
For us, that was the essence of Heist. It did not matter that we knew close to nothing about contemporary dance. It only mattered that we opened our eyes and hearts to see and feel this show, and we left NST City all the richer for it.
MA English Literary Studies student Thea Hartman talks about her passion for escapism, textual analysis, her experience of the Southampton art scene, and what plans she has for her time as an Arts Ambassador!
This is going to sound ridiculously cliché, so brace yourselves, because I really don’t know how else to say it: yes, I have loved art in all its forms for as long as I can remember. The philosophy behind this love is simple: if you’re looking to escape the real world for a bit – and I honestly bet you do – there is no better way to spend those rare spare hours than with a film, some music, a trip to the theatre, a gig, or many a good book.
As far as that goes, I am an expert fugitive. My Mum taught me how to read early because I would always ask her to read me one more story and she couldn’t catch her breath. And that hasn’t really changed (well, I did learn to read, but you get the idea) – ‘one more story’ became a BA English degree, and then an MA English Literary Studies degree, with a focus on twentieth century literature. Turning a text on all its facets, understanding it in its present and in our own – to me, there’s nothing quite like it, even if it does sometimes push my limits so much that I can’t touch a book for months… Luckily, there are other ways to keep escaping.
And because we’re in Southampton, we have loads of them right on our doorstep! I started discovering the Southampton arts scene due to The Edge, the University’s student entertainment magazine, which sends writers to a wide range of theatre shows and concerts (even after over three years of writing for it I’d probably have a hard time naming all the music venues in Southampton…), but it wasn’t until my summer internship with ‘a space’ arts that I had the chance to get to know the arts community in Southampton and learn just how complex and welcoming it is!
I’m not an artist, so I’m not a stranger to thoughts like “I’m not artsy enough to go there,” or “I don’t belong there” – but I realised I couldn’t be more wrong. And that’s what I’m most excited about doing as an Arts Ambassador – helping to spread the word not only about what the arts scene in Southampton has to offer generally, but also about what it has to offer to those who think like I used to. I’ll be found mostly on this blog and on social media, trying to put all these feelings into words as I explore Southampton’s art scene with Molly and Kate this semester – I hope you join us on this journey!
Christopher Amedu, law graduate and marketing intern at John Hansard Gallery, introduces himself and the aspirations he has for the role. Continue reading Introducing Christopher Amedu: John Hansard Gallery Marketing Intern