Call for collaboration – scottish dance theatre – China Now Call for collaboration – scottish dance theatre – China Now

Call for Collaboration - Scottish Dance Theatre

Areas of interest: Sustainability
Location: Dundee
Date: From 30 November 2020 to 18 December 2020
Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted

About Scottish Dance Theatre

Led by Artistic Director Joan Clevillé, Scottish Dance Theatre creates dance that is engaging and engaged. Our Artistic Vision is driven by artistic exploration, learning, and a desire to connect with others. The company is one of the few full-time ensembles in the UK and is made up of nine inquisitive and versatile dancers who have come from all over the world to work and create in our home at Dundee Rep.

Working at the forefront of the art form, Scottish Dance Theatre collaborates with internationally acclaimed choreographers and artists, supports the development of emerging and homegrown talent and promotes a plurality of voices.

For more than thirty years, the company has brought unique dance experiences to audiences and communities across Scotland, the UK and abroad, producing high quality dance that is thought provoking and holds resonance in people’s lives. Scottish Dance Theatre has received multiple awards (including the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Company Repertoire), and has built a strong international profile, becoming Scotland’s flagship dance company and a creative ambassador of Dundee.

Scottish Dance Theatre’s VISION: a world in motion. Our vision is that of a world in motion, a world open to change through dance. A world that embraces dance as a tool for personal and collective transformation. A world of equally empowered individuals and sustainable communities fuelled by the creative energy of our bodies and imaginations.

We dare to imagine a world in motion.

Scottish Dance Theatre’s MISSION: setting the world in motion Our mission is to set the world in motion through dance and shared artistic exploration:

  • ethically creating innovative, meaningful and inclusive dance experiences
  • sustainably sharing them with local, national and international communities
  • contributing to the development of sustainable civic and artistic communities

Scottish Dance Theatre’s DRIVING FORCES:

  • Explore = desire to meet the unknown through an inquisitive practice
  • Learn = desire to fulfil everyone’s potential
  • Connect = desire to meet others and otherness, to engage with our contemporary reality and become and agent for change in the world

Scottish Dance Theatre’s VALUES:

Rather than understanding the value of dance as a means to climbing the global ladder of high art, we strive to re-define it by its transformative power through the creation of new shared meaning that is essential to the sustainable life of individuals and communities.

Our core values are:

  • Transformative power > Trust
  • New meaning > Innovation
  • Sustainable > Responsibility

Collaboration Ideas with China

Since the first visit of Scottish Dance Theatre to China in 2009, Chinese programmers and audiences have shown a sustained interest and enthusiasm for the company’s work, with repeated invitations to tour across the country over the past ten years.

When the the international performing arts market emerges from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, our relationship with Chinese partners and audiences is being transformed. We are evolving our artistic practice and touring models to respond not only to evolving conditions in various sectors, but also to:

  • rapid changes in cultural consumption habits
  • a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of international activity
  • a desire to engage more meaningfully with local communities

China offers the perfect environment to explore these three areas and develop long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships that will trail blaze new paths for international collaboration and innovation in dance and the performing arts.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not diminished our commitment to live theatre and dance, which remain our primary focus, but it has also brought into sharp relief the need to engage with audiences through different mediums and formats, including the digital. This expansion on how we think about what a high quality dance experience can be in the 2020s has opened up a whole new range of opportunities. The innovative and dynamic character of the Chinese culture and economy offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop new ways of generating and sharing dance content and collaborating across sectors and borders.


The geographical distance between China and Scotland, as well as the vast scale of China and the richness and diversity of its local culture, offer us a unique opportunity to test new models for sustainable touring and cultural exchange. We are keen to explore these new forms of collaboration that can respond to the country’s huge appetite for high-quality, current, international cultural experiences in a sustainable way.


Key to this evolution is the relationship with local communities, and we want to explore ways in which civic and artistic communities can be centred in our international work. We strongly believe in the transformative power of cultural exchange and want to build bridges for connection between artists and members of the community in Scotland and China. Both countries share a strong sense of social commitment and solidarity and we are interested in developing relationships that will make our artistic practice more inclusive and responsive.

Scottish Dance Theatre is interested in exploring sustainable models for international touring, knowledge and skills sharing and artistic collaboration for the new decade. We are keen to work with Chinese partners in an ideas incubator environment leading to future development of prototype projects with the support of the British Council.

There is a range of projects and ideas that we would like to discuss, encompassing two interconnected areas:

  • Digital content
  • Alternative touring models


Over the last year, Scottish Dance Theatre has developed different forms of digital output, allowing us to expand our artistic practice and reach a much wide range of audiences and community participants.

Existing projects include:

  • these bones, this flesh, this skin: interactive music and dance digital platform. Users are invited to choose their own visual and sound layers to create a unique experience.
  • Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted: digital live event re-imagining our existing solo stage production exploring the Greek tragedy of Antigone and the role of the female body in resistance and civil disobedience. The event includes an introduction to the work, live- performance elements and a discussion with the artists.

Projects in development and new ideas:

  • Together/Apart (professional strand): long-distance film created through mobile phone technology in collaboration between dancers from Scottish Dance Theatre and professional dancers from China.
  • Together/Apart (community strand): long-distance residency bringing together two groups of young dancers in Scotland and China to create a short performance through a video-conference platform
  • Labyrinth: This new live-digital performance will feature the full ensemble of Scottish Dance Theatre dancers. Live-streamed from our studio, we envisage a 30min work following the surreal journey of a woman through a maze of images, characters, music and dance. The work will be a homage to the world of live theatre seen through a digital lens, exploring with playfulness and compassion the longing for a lost-world and the overwhelming wave of uncertainty that many experience today.

We want to work in close partnership with Chinese partners to understand the potential of these ideas and how to develop them to make them fully relevant for Chinese audiences and communities. Ultimately, our goal is to understand the role of the digital in the context of a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly touring and distribution model, including its implications in terms of intellectual property rights and monetisation.


Although travel restrictions and public health regulations mean that physical touring to China is currently not possible, we are keen to use this opportunity to develop our thinking around alternative touring models that minimise the environmental impact of international activities whilst maximising the deeply transformational effect of engagement and cultural exchange.

Some of the ideas we would like to explore are:

  • Concept/work franchise: we want to explore models of franchising creative content so that an original work by SDT can be presented in China without the full company having to travel. This could involve some level of digital rehearsals and the creative team travelling to China to work with local companies, artists or communities. As well as a smaller carbon footprint, this approach would open the possibility for skill-sharing and for adaptations of the original work in response to the local context.
  • Slow touring: rather than visiting many locations for a short period in a given tour, we want to explore reducing the number of instances and deepening the engagement with audiences, artists and communities. This extended space and time can allow for more meaningful interactions, contributing to the sustainable development of civic and artistic communities, for example through:
    • Capacity building and skills sharing residencies: in addition to a programme of performances, Scottish Dance Theatre has extensive experience in delivering capacity building and skills sharing programmes. This could manifest, for example, as a creative lab residency for local dancers or as a technical theatre school.
    • Every Map Has A Scale” is a performance and research project by SDT Artistic Director Joan Clevillé, involving company dancers spending time in different neighbourhoods of a locality, engaging with the people, the landscape, the architecture… A pop-up performance in outdoor spaces complements the work, inviting passers-by to become accidental audience members and highlighting the poetry of movement, language and architecture,
    • Choreographic co-production and co-commissions. On the long- term, we are interested in building trust with our partners to develop more ambitious collaborative projects in the form of co-productions and co-commissions, which could be in partnership with Chinese dance companies. This could lead, again, to more meaningful interactions between Scottish Dance Theatre and Chinese artists and, with fewer people traveling than in conventional touring.

With the support of British Council, we would like to identify a Chinese organisation that:

  • is passionate about cultural exchange
  • shares a strong interest in developing innovative and sustainable models for international collaboration
  • is both outward looking and with a strong connection with their local communities
  • has the capacity, resources and/or networks to be able to develop ambitious international projects
  • is interested in Scottish Dance Theatre’s creative practice and in building long-term relationships with the company
  • is part of or has a knowledge of the Chinese dance sector and could connect to us with other companies and artists working in the field of contemporary dance in order to develop future collaborations
  • shares Scottish Dance Theatre’s values of innovation, responsibility and trust

We would expect to establish a supportive dialogue with our Chinese partner to understand the complexity and nuances of the current situation for dance and the performing arts in China today. We would be interested in discussing new approaches to sustainable touring and the relevance and viability of the specific creative ideas outlined above. We wouldn’t expect to be able to discuss or realise all of these ideas, but rather to focus on what feels most appropriate and urgent. We would expect ideas evolving and transforming through dialogue.

Representing Scottish Dance Theatre would be Artistic Director Joan Clevillé, Executive Director Liam Sinclair and International Producer Nelson Fernandez.

We hope that this initial conversations will lead to a longer-term relationship and future collaborations but we don’t expect a commitment to realise and deliver the ideas discussed at this stage. We also hope to be enriched by this process of dialogue and to gain a deeper understanding of the international dance and performing arts landscape in China.

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