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CAKE 17: The Science of Performance

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Dance City

Temple Street

Newcastle upon Tyne


United Kingdom

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The Science of Performance

Creative Fuse North East presents an exclusive CAKE (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) event: ‘The Science of Performance’, in collaboration with Dance City, Southpaw Dance Company and the Institute of Physics.

The event will take a behind-the-scenes look at dance and performance, considering ways in which science and technology enhance our appreciation and understanding of the performing arts.

Our speakers will discuss the scientific principles of performance and reveal the technical skills and expertise that make a show appear seamless. From the stage to the city streets, we will consider a diverse range of performance spaces and the technologies that bring these spaces to life.

Limited spaces are also available for Dance City's Physics of Dance public workshop on the 19th February, 18:30-20:30 - reserve your space here.


Welcome Address by Dance City

Robby Graham, Artistic Director, Southpaw Dance Company

Southpaw Dance Company works under the artistic direction and unique vision of Robby Graham who, over the last decade, has been developing a distinctive and innovative new dance vocabulary. Drawing on the relatively unexplored vocabulary of b-boying, or breaking, the Company has developed a style that crosses the boundaries of what is defined as contemporary technique and hip hop movement, engaging audiences who have never bought a ticket to see contemporary dance, as well as to sold out festivals and theatres.

To date Robby has created a wealth of outdoor touring dance work including the hugely successful Faust, Carousel, and the large scale spectaculars, Rush and Wordplay, as well as creating work for a conventional theatre context, notably having been commissioned for the Place Prize 2010. Robby creates work based in a strong physical movement vocabulary, with universal imagery and relatable content, whether working with a professional dance cast, with actors, or with large scale community casts.

Robby has performed, taught and choreographed around the world, including the Royal Opera House in London, the favelas of Rio Di Janeiro, and New York. In 2015 he was a Hip Hop Second Round Judge for BBC Young Dancer of the Year. Also in 2015, Robby was the winner of the UK Dance Artist of Choice, Kevin Spacey Foundation. In 2017 Robby was on the selection panel for the Kevin Spacey Foundation and was Movement Director for Marianne Elliott’s acclaimed production of Angels in America at the National Theatre.

Catrina McHugh, Artistic Director and Writer, and Roma Yagnik, Sound Designer, Open Clasp Theatre Company

Originally from Liverpool, Catrina moved to Newcastle in 1993 after falling in love with a Geordie, Newcastle and the North East. Driven by a passionate belief that great theatre can bring about social change, she co-founded Open Clasp in 1998. She has unparalleled experienced working creatively with the most disenfranchised women and successfully works with communities to create risk-taking and exciting theatre providing powerful stimulus for discussion and debate. She has been hailed as the ‘female Lee Hall only better’. Rattle Snake, her most recent production, was named as ‘Best New Play of 2017’; Key Change won the Carol Tambor ‘Best of Edinburgh Award, 2015’, resulting in a three-and-a-half week run off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop's 4th Street Theatre in January 2016, where it received the New York Times ‘Critics' Pick’. Catrina’s writing is the heartbeat of the company, and she was recently awarded an MBE for services to disadvantaged women through theatre.

Roma makes music for films, ads, theatre productions and television and her clients include BBC, C4 and Random Acts, Sky, EMI, Universal, UNICEF and Tate Britain. Her theatre and live event work includes Open Clasp plays Key Change, Rattle & Roll, Swags & Tails, BlueGiro and The Space Between Us; The Taming of the Shrew (Sprite Productions), Leaving (Curious Monkey), Moving In at Wallington (November Club), Arthurs Odyssey (Circus Central), Sunderland Illuminations and Enchanted Parks. Roma is a currently part of BAFTA Crew.

Dan Adams, Production Manager, Lumiere Festival

Dan Adams and his company DAT Events provide production and operational services for live events, Ceremonies and site-specific art installations across the world. Dan has a wealth of experience delivering projects that require complex technical and production solutions often including the use of new, innovative technology. For the last 8 years Dan has worked with Artichoke on Lumiere in Durham as a key part of the team managing the technical and logistically delivery of this unique project.

Lumiere is the UK's largest light festival, organised by Artichoke, a leading arts charity that works with artists to invade public spaces and put on extraordinary and ambitious events that live in the memory forever. For each Lumiere festival Artichoke invites international artists to create works that light buildings and public spaces, changing the way that we think and feel.

Austen Atkinson, Senior Producer, Lexicon Learning

Austen is an author, producer, director, a script doctor in film and script editor for broadcast TV drama and animation. He has developed a raft of AI and VR - notably for Google and the Google Expeditions App platform, as project lead. He has created educational films, learning apps and interactives at Twig World, children’s drama for BBC Worldwide and factual programmes for BBC, History Channel, Discovery, Channel 4 and many more.

Austen trained with the BBC to be a Creative Alchemist - specialising in taking linear storytelling and developing it for immersive experiences. He has been creative lead on projects in traditional linear, VR, AI and emerging technologies in B2B, Military/Government, Consumer, Entertainment and Education sectors. His creds include writing animation in Hollywood, writing, directing and producing the USA Network award winning series Parelli: Live Your Dream, award winning educational dramas for the BBC, and Exec Producing, Directing and creating the production pipeline for Doctor Who specials - re-animating past Doctor Whos for the 50th anniversary season. He began his writing career at Marvel Comics and the Sunday Times, then moved sideways into script editing on TV soaps.

Austen's books have sold in 17 countries and been adapted for TV, notably Lost Worlds by Darlow-Smithson for Channel 4 and Discovery USA. Recognising the power of narratives, Austen has produced high profile full-lifecycle projects and programmes - often writing them himself - for renowned and iconic organisations such as the BBC, Sky, C4, C5, History Channel, Sunday Times, Virgin, Google and many others.

Getting There:

On foot: Dance City is located on Temple Street off St James' Boulevard in Newcastle City Centre.

By train: Newcastle Central Station is a seven-minute walk from Dance City - head towards the city centre and turn left down Westgate Road, then left onto Thornton Street and right onto Peel Lane. Dance City will be directly ahead.

By Metro: The nearest Metro stop to Dance City is Central - please follow the instructions above.

By bus: Several bus routes pass close to Dance City via Westgate Road, please visit to plan your journey.

By car: Car parking is available next door to Dance City at Grainger Town multi-storey, NE1 4DN, priced at £0.90/hour, or over the road at Blandford Square Public Car Park, NE1 4HZ, priced at £1.80 for 2 hours.

About CAKE:

CAKE (Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange) is Creative Fuse North East's monthly networking event, bringing together businesses, freelancers, academics, charities and creative practitioners from across the Creative, Digital and IT sectors. Each themed CAKE event has expert speakers delivering short presentations that explore opportunities and innovation challenges. The events generate debate, explorative discussion and stimulate new innovative ideas by looking at each event’s theme from a variety of different perspectives – in keeping with the event name, attendees enjoy a slice of delicious cake while they network.

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Whatever your professional background, this event is designed to support this potential by inspiring new conversations and allowing introductions to take place that will enable collaboration.

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Dance City

Temple Street

Newcastle upon Tyne


United Kingdom

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