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A dancer's thoughts on working with Four Hands

Introducing Claire Lambert: artist-collaborator and performer on Four Hands’ new performance work, commissioned by the Little Big Dance national initiative. The as yet untitled work is a duet made for an early years audience that focuses on themes of care, attachment and mental health.

A bit of info about Claire…

Supported by Birmingham’s strong network of youth dance training, Claire was introduced to movement at the age of fifteen. She later graduated from London Contemporary Dance School with Postgraduate Diploma in Performance, having completed her BA (Hons) in Dance Theatre at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. 

With a varied career to date, Claire has found particular interest in devising and performing dynamic, narrative and socially relevant work for indoor, outdoor and site-specific settings. 

Claire is currently working with Lîla Dance for the creation of My Bit following R&D in 2019. Recent work includes R&D for a concept film vertical dancing on cliffs, touring children's theatre production Up Up and Away and vertical dance piece Home for Coventry City of Culture 2021. 

Claire enjoys building longer term working relationships which include developing new work with CoDa Dance, expanding company repertoire with award-winning Highly Sprung Performance, pursuing professional development in aerial harness techniques with Kate Lawrence and supporting the sustainability of Birmingham Dance Network. 

Claire has had the pleasure of performing in Olivier award winning Angels in America at the National Theatre; working with Steven Hoggett, Finn Caldwell and Marianne Elliott before continuing on to R&D for National Theatre Studio's New Work Department. 

Personal highlights of her career include touring Breaking The Ice to Shanghai with Filskit Theatre, playing Sandra in Beautiful Thing for GDIF18, touring Night at the Theatre with Casson & Friends, singing internationally with Town Hall Gospel Choir, singing with Birmingham Opera Company, six years of touring Urban Astronaut (Highly Sprung), discovering aerial techniques with RoguePlay and Wired Aerial and performing in the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. 

Claire enjoys a collaborative process in which imagination, playfulness and invention can thrive and is driven to produce performative work by a desire to draw audiences into a compelling and meaningful experience.

Here are some of Claire thoughts on working with the company on this project…

What have you enjoyed about the project so far?

I have enjoyed exploring a new area of research and delving into creative methods, games and tasks I had not ever tried before. The subject matter I find very interesting and it has been really enjoyable to be involved in the shaping of the work from the very first step and to be challenged in a new direction. It feels as though we have carefully crafted something together and that in itself is unique and a very rewarding experience.

How have you developed as a performer/artist over the course of the project?

I feel the process has allowed me to express my ideas very openly and this has helped me to understand my own artistic preferences and areas of interest. As a performer, I feel I have found a new freedom of movement through the element of play on which the work is heavily based. Rediscovering the sheer joy of just moving with no judgement has been extremely refreshing and has brought me a lot of joy in the studio. Also, the act of 'caring for someone' and 'being cared for' has had a deeply nourishing impact on my mental wellbeing at times. 

Has working on this project had an emotional impact?

Undeniably so. I have found myself reflecting on the themes of the work long after rehearsals and sharings have finished. The work has resonated with me personally and allowed a lot of healing and processing of memories to take place. There are rarely moments where the work we are doing together doesn't have an emotional impact. It has been very powerful for me personally. 

Which elements have you found challenging?

A challenging moment occurred whilst exploring audience interaction. We tried an idea during a sharing and it felt inorganic to the process. It made me realise that the work is extremely special and fragile. The work makes us as performers vulnerable, in a good way. The performative moment we are creating in itself is very vulnerable too. 

How have you found the creation process?

The energy in the room is positive, calm and open. I think George is generous with time and process and sees the need for it not to be rushed or limited. He is a collaborative director who responds well to what is being generated in the moment and allows space for the organic connections to form and for the ideas that emerge to lead the way. This creates a rich and delicate outcome that he gently forms into something that can be shared without making it feel like a "product". Whatever we end up creating for the tour will have been born out of the moments we've shared as creatives and with ample consideration for the particular audience we hope to celebrate and give a voice to. 

Is there anything about the project that has particularly interested you?

The concept. 'The process of healing touch'. I think what has emerged is a hugely powerful tool for reconciliation, trust building, care and safety. Especially in this current context, when touch is allowed to return, I can imagine the impact of the method we have discovered will be profound. 

Due to Covid-19, the creation process of this work has been put on hold. We hope to resume as soon as it is safe to do so and look forward to an upcoming national tour in the not-so-distant future.

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