Funding for dance company performance with swarming robots

By Barrie Hudson - 9 December 2020

Arts and Culture

Swindon-based contemporary dance company Neon Dance has received funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

  • A scene from a previous Neon Dance production

    A scene from a previous Neon Dance production

The money will be used to create what is billed an an original and ambitious contemporary dance work.

Called Prehension Blooms, it is described as a one of a kind interactive performance experience with attendees free to roam, encountering five dancers and a beguiling, playful robot community. 

By moving, sitting, lying down and congregating, the audience will influence all aspects of the performance.

Neon Dance artistic director Adrienne Hart said: “Many of us have been isolated in 2020. With Prehension Blooms we’re aiming to bring people back together. 

"We’re designing tele-operated robots as part of the production so that remote audiences can join in, interacting with physical audience members, robots and performers." 

There will be the opportunity to join Neon Dance and help co-create the swarming robots for the production during a series of workshops which will take place across the UK. Confirmed workshop locations include Swindon Brighton, Oxford, Bristol and St Ives. Details will be made available at neondance.org

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, for Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to award Neon Dance £86,000 for Prehension Blooms Creation, Community Engagement and Company Development through our National Lottery Project Grants funding programme. 

"This significant investment will allow Neon Dance to reach new audiences, specifically older people and young people, to help combat loneliness. Prehension Blooms is an original and ambitious project that will give audiences a unique experience, combining dance with robotics. 

"Arts Council believe in creating new opportunities for every person in England to get creative and enjoy brilliant culture, which is why we’re so pleased to support this project from Neon Dance”.

Created in partnership with an award winning international team including the visual artist Ana Rajcevic, choreographer Adrienne Hart, composer Sebastian Reynolds and Hemma Philamore from Bristol Robotics Lab, Prehension Blooms is set to premiere next autumn.

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