V&A Reveal presents dance inspired by Yoko Ono

Julie Cunningham & Company

Victoria & Albert Museum unveiled incredible new spaces as part of the week long cultural #REVEAL Festival in London.

With a new sweeping entrance architecturally designed to invite you in, there is a clear sense of wonder, an intrigue as to what lies beyond the new modern entrance and scrumptiously stocked courtyard cafe.

As you pass through the glass doors and walk down the winding steps you enter a stunning subterranean aircraft hanger sized acoustically perfect gallery space, with a ceiling that looks like an angular wave reaching different heights at the ends of the hall. It is an impressive, contemporary and distinguished addition to the V&A that will no doubt put the Museum firmly on the contemporary arts map.

As part of the celebrations the V&A commissioned choreographer Julie Cunningham to create new site-specific dance performance.

Julie was presented with Yoko Ono’s ‘Dance Pieces’ from ACORN, a seminal collection of ‘instructional poems’, from which Julie created 10 short pieces, performed throughout the Museum.

Early in Julie’s choreographic career, her movement language continues to evolve but she describes it as “quite rigorous and technical.” She uses the body and its form in a strong way with an interest in rhythm and creating dynamic movements.

Creating site specific work presents both challenges and unique opportunities for a choreographer. Julie describes what visitors can expect to see in the inspiring and iconic V&A.

“We perform the ten pieces consecutively over 45 minutes moving from space to space. So you can follow the whole dance or catch one of the dances, or stay for one or two of the dances, and then move on. I want people to encounter it rather than know what’s going to happen. So it’ll be like entering a room and something has happened that you didn’t expect.”

Julie’s work plays with attention and relationship, either between the dancers, the visitors, the space and to the objects within the space.

Julie shares the choreographic process, “For this piece, the process has been a little bit more unknown going into the studio. There was so much to work with, with the space, the poems, it was a bit more open to start with.”

“We started by using improvisation and tasks to create some kind of world or space, and then I built, from there, something more structured and more set.”

However the process has not been without challenges, “It’s been quite tricky because the feeling of time in the studio is really different from the feeling of time in the museum.”

When Julie took work from the studio into the Museum she immediately thought, “We have to slow down. Everyone needs to slow down. We need to have more stillness. We have to take more time.”

The short glimpse at the launch event saw three dancers moving, responding and igniting the actions of the other. It was quiet, considered, absorbing and no doubt the site-specific works in the V&A will be as impressive as the building and new spaces.

Catch the REVEAL Festival 30 June to 7 July and make sure you happen upon Julie Cunningham & Company.

For more info: www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/reveal