3 October 2017
Author: The Place

Faculty member Carolyn Deby presents work at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

We caught up with Carolyn Deby, Head of Professional Studies / Career Development at London Contemporary Dance School ahead of her Performance event urbanflows (you were here) which is part of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, 10-13 October.

Tell me a little bit about how this project came about/the inspiration for this piece?

I’ve been interested for some time in how dance and performance can, by being situated directly in the everyday spaces of the city, transform our perception of how we live. The urban is in fact intricately entangled with systems of nature, wildness, technology, social interaction, living and dying. In 2014, a meeting with urban specialist Prof Nicolas Whybrow (Warwick University) led to a three year commission to experiment further as part of his Sensing the City project.

What can audience members expect to experience?

urbanflows (you were here) will invite audiences to shift their perception of the city and their own relationship to it. The details of the experience are top secret but it will unfold in a sequence of city locations! The idea is to enliven people’s senses using sound, images, movement, while incorporating the ordinary spaces and ongoing energies of the everyday city.

Who are you working with for the performance?

My main collaborator for this piece is dancer/choreographer Jia-Yu Corti. Jia-Yu is an experienced dance artist and an MA alumni from LCDS. She has been collaborating with me and sirenscrossing since 2012.

Can you tell me a bit about the ‘Sensing the City’ project and how you became involved in it?

Sensing the City is a three-year, practice-based research project, led by Prof Nicolas Whybrow and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Involving both artists and academics, it will undertake a series of site-specific studies of urban rhythms, atmospheres, textures, practices and patterns of behaviour in the city of Coventry. The overarching aim is to make use of the sensate, performing human body as a data-gathering sensor.

Where are you happiest?

Well, I have to say I’m feeling very nostalgic for the wide open wilds of Canada right now…so perhaps it was being in a canoe on a clean fast-moving river in the northern part of the area where I grew up. 

What’s your favourite city?

It is hard to pick one! Places that come to mind include Vancouver and Stockholm. However, having said that I’ve become a proud Londoner. 

Which city would you most like to visit and why?

Istanbul has been calling me for a while. There’s something intriguing about it’s geographic and cultural position at the intersection of both Europe and Asia. 

Favourite and worst thing about city living?

Favourite thing: the overwhelming collision of possibilities, places, cultures, languages, foods, people
Worst thing: the concentration of pollution, noise, and nasty people

What’s the best piece of advice / best tips you give to students about making the transition from study to the professional world?  

Never lose sight of why you are an artist or dancer. The professional world will often seem indifferent or cruel. The need to survive financially may sometimes seem impossible but if you stay in touch with your heart you will be ok. Find your people, your family in art and dance, and be inspired. Take time to enjoy the world!


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