Artificial Things

Stopgap Dance Company’s film Artificial Things, directed by Sophie Fiennes, explores human interdependence, strength, and vulnerability.

Filmed on location in a derelict suburban shopping mall and featuring an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled dancers, the film is a re-imagining of the stage work of the same name. Dancers Amy Butler, Laura Jones, Chris Pavia, David Willdridge and Dave Toole, who devised the original piece, all appear in the film.

Online watch party

Artificial Things was streamed on 18 May 2019 at 8pm alongside a live Watch Party on YouTube with special guests choreographer Lucy Bennett, performer David Toole (OBE) and writer and arts producer Amber Massie-Blomfield.

Stopgap is a UK-based ensemble, which integrates disabled and non-disabled dancers and artists, operating with a distinctive movement aesthetic, and collaboratively developing work that “seeks to open a window into a parallel world where human interdependence, strength, and vulnerability play out with poetic realism.” Their original, 90-minute dance piece, Artificial Things (2014), gained so many accolades in Britain that it became part of the GCSE curriculum in secondary schools. Hence the genesis of this film: to record an excerpt from the company’s landmark performance with the aim of documenting and preserving an ephemeral artwork.

A black and white photo featuring 3 dancers - two women and one man in the middle - interlocked through arms and legs. They are performing on the floor of a dance studio
Artificial Things StopGap Dance

‘I like dance to have a sense of place. This location shed a new light on the work,’ says choreographer and Stopgap Artistic Director Lucy Bennett. ‘When Sophie saw the space, she was quite clear that she wanted the dance to speak for itself in the film.’

‘It’s very hard to talk about dance,’ says Fiennes, ‘but by filming it new sensations and feelings can be articulated through the camera and editing. This is particularly true with inclusive choreography, working with the combination of learning disabled, physically disabled and non-disabled dancers. There is a particular kind of beauty here.’

‘Chris Pavia is Downs Syndrome and the filming environment really suited him’ says Bennett, ‘We could work in short bursts and he could really take it to the next level; Chris didn’t want to do something nice and friendly, he wanted to make a solo about all the things he hated in the world, and that’s what came out’.

Artificial Things won the prestigious Dance Screen award in the category of Screen Choreography Over 15 minutes in 2019.

About this artist

Stopgap Dance Company creates exhilarating dance productions for national and international touring. It employs disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate. Stopgap values a pioneering spirit and is committed to making discoveries about integrating disabled and non-disabled people through dance.

Stopgap’s productions are devised by the company dancers and collaborators, working as an ensemble under the artistic direction of Lucy Bennett. As a choreographer-led company, Stopgap has expertise in inclusive choreography and has extensive experience of nurturing disabled and non-disabled artists. As a charitable organisation it openly shares skills and knowledge through performances for outdoor, indoor and digital platforms, and through training and outreach programmes and publications.  It engages a cross section of societies globally, to change perceptions about difference and inspire everyone to achieve their potential. “Difference is our means and our method”