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Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

Overview of Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

This submission presented work carried out by 32 members of staff in the Departments of Performing Arts and Media at Middlesex University.

  • REF 2021 Impact Case Studies

    • Inter/transcultural Dialogic Exchange (IDE): making change across political and cultural borders through artistic collaboration

      The impact we achieved

      For over ten years the research has crossed contested histories and political and cultural borders bringing together over 300 participants to engage in creative processes, performances, conferences and forums. Forty-five new dance works have been created reaching over 9,000 audience members and over 38,000 people online. In one of world’s most sensitive geopolitical and militarised zones, Professor Christopher Bannerman worked with Beijing and Taipei colleagues to lead the Intercultural Dialogic Exchange research project and artistic collaboration that brought together creatives to stimulate dialogue and change.

      The impact in mainland China was:

      • Institutional with changes in the curricula and teaching styles in China’s leading dance academies
      • Widely influential through involving some of the most significant and highly regarded dance artists in China
      • Sector-wide by enhancing capacity in the arts through professional development for writers and producers.

      The research behind it

      In 2009, the research partnership began between ResCen Research Centre, Middlesex University and Beijing Dance Academy. With funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2011, the Taipei National University of the Arts joined and the exchange developed new understandings and insights by weaving together perspectives from practice and theory to initiate an intercultural dialogic exchange in, about and through artistic practices.

      Key aspects of the project included:

      • Intensive three to four-week performance projects for exchange and collaboration between Anglophone and Sinophone artists, academics and producers
      • The curation of sustained spaces for dialogic exchange and active engagement between diverse and/or divided community/ies
      • The first dedicated edition of Choreographic Practices published in English and Chinese in 2016.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      At Middlesex, Professor Christopher Bannerman was London Curator and Director alongside Beijing Curators and Directors Professors GUO Lei and XU Rui, President and Vice President respectively of Beijing Dance Academy and Taipei Curator and Director WANG Yunyu, Taipei National University of the Arts.

      The research team included Dr Ola Johansson, Dr Alexandra Kolb, Professor Vida Midgelow, and Dr Stefanie Sachsenmaier from Middlesex; Martin Welton, Queen Mary University of London, and Rebecca Loukes, University of Exeter, with additional researchers from Beijing and Taipei.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

    • The Newham Plays: enhancing cultural provision, developing young people’s talent/skills, and benefiting local organisations through pro-localist, site-local, new writing

      The impact we achieved

      Created, produced and written by Dr James Kenworth, and directed by Dr James Martin Charlton, both long-term residents of Newham, the Newham Plays are a series of localist-focused plays rooted in Newham’s history, culture and people. Performed in site-sympathetic locations in Newham, East London, they feature a ‘mixed economy’ casting of young people and professional actors. The series, which contributed to addressing historically low levels of cultural engagement in the Borough, has originated a Pro-Localist approach to cultural engagement, in which the plays are partnered and supported by local funders, partners and stakeholders. Its key impact includes:

      • Developing skills, building confidence and boosting self-belief of over 250 young people from diverse backgrounds living in Newham
      • Benefiting local organisations, raising awareness of Newham’s sites/venues and the heritage of the Borough, and enhancing cultural provision.

      The research behind it

      The London Borough of Newham (population 353,134) experiences significant economic and social challenges, including poverty affecting one in two children and cultural engagement significantly below the national average. Middlesex contributed to redressing this problem by contending that a localist and grassroots approach is the most effective way to widen access to the arts, and by arguing for an increased emphasis on performance in local spaces rather than in prestige or heritage theatres.

      Our impact is underpinned by a coherent body of research practice and engagement resulting from the Newham Plays – a series of four plays developed through our Department of Media’s collaboration with the community of Newham between 2012 and 2019 (only the three most recent plays were submitted to REF 2021). Through our successful, long-term partnership with three local schools, we helped approximately 250 young people from diverse backgrounds, such as Asian, Black, African, Caribbean or Black British, to develop skills and self-belief by acting in the shows and partaking in a range of associated activities. Working with schools’ drama teachers, we identified talented and enthusiastic pupils, and ran auditions and workshops as part of their drama classes. Crucially, after each show we offered a series of free drama workshops which engaged pupils in an exploration of the plays’ themes and issues.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      Our research team comprises Dr James Martin Charlton and Dr James Kenworth.

      Their three plays submitted were partnered and supported by local grassroots organizations and charities The Royal Docks Trust, Community Links, and Ambition, Aspire, Achieve. The plays were delivered in collaboration with Gallions Primary School, Kingsford Community School, and Royal Docks Academy.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

      ' A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham (2016)' (Photo credit: Prodeepta Das)

    • Advancing Movement Practices in Doctoral and Professional Contexts

      The impact we achieved

      Research undertaken at Middlesex by Professor Vida Midgelow has changed the way movement artists and teachers undertake and facilitate creative practices, increasing their understanding and confidence. Her work has revealed gaps in awareness and provision of Artistic Research in Doctoral Education, identifying a need for a co-ordinated approach across academic and arts sectors. The impact was generated on three key areas:

      • Creative practice – by enabling dance practitioners to appropriately articulate their embodied practice, such that they have the skills to recognise, reflect and communicate movement and choreographic processes
      • Provisions for Artistic Doctoral Research – by offering enhanced connectivity, opportunities and mobility for candidates and by influencing the delivery and development of artistic doctoral degrees
      • Arts Sector thinking and practice – by increasing awareness of artistic research/doctorates, and their value, and challenging perceptions and practices.

      The research behind it

      This research has benefited dance artists, students and teachers, arts organisations and universities in the UK, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden. Professor Midgelow has transformed creative practice and university education by advancing both the conceptualisation of practice in the sphere of postgraduate pedagogy and its application and dissemination in academic and non-academic contexts. This provided processes, benchmarks and an aspiration in respect of what constitutes rigorous practice procedures and effective environments.

      More specifically, impact was underpinned by research:

      • in the field of practice-as-research (PaR), which led to the development of the ‘Creative Articulations Process’ (CAP), in collaboration with Professor Jane Bacon (University of Chichester). CAP is a method which enhances creativity, offering an embodied framework in support of self-reflexive artistic enquiries
      • in the undertaking and supporting of PaR within the frame of a doctorate, an area previously neglected by researchers. To address this research gap, Dr Midgelow established ‘Artistic Doctorates in Europe’ (ADiE), an Erasmus+-funded research collaboration between universities and arts and dance organisations in the UK, Sweden and Finland. ADiE research offered insights and guidance to candidates and supervisors, proposing a creative, co-relational process and incorporating partners beyond academia in the development of ‘third spaces’ for doctoral engagement.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      Middlesex Professor Vida Midgelow undertook this research, in collaboration at different stages of her work with academia and industry in the UK and abroad, including key partner Dance4.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

      Photo of a dancer during a CAP workshop at Weld dance house, Sweden

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