30 years in pictures: Compass Commissions Part 3

30 years in pictures | 27 September 2023

Tara d’Arquian

We asked photographers close to the work of Greenwich Dance to pick out images which represented a memory close to their hearts and two, Chris Nash and Alicia Clarke picked Tara’s work: Chris selecting the first piece in her Trilogy series, In Situ and Alicia the second, Quests.

In Situ by Tara d'Arquian

In Situ

The trilogy revolves around Nietzsche’s Three Metamorphoses in which he presents a profound metaphor for human evolution and personal growth. 

“Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.” 

In Situ, conceived for a disused chapel, inaugurated the triptych by materializing the first state, the state of Camel.  

“Photographed in the Asylum Chapel in Peckham. I spent a lot of time balancing the interior lighting with the exterior daylight, so that the stained glass windows, the gorgeous walls and the two dancers would all look their best for the camera.”

Chris Nash  

“Soon after I graduated from Trinity Laban, just 23 years old, I saw this call for Compass Commissions, partnership between Trinity Laban and Greenwich Dance”. 

It was the first ever Compass Commissions. Three prizes were offered: one for a traditional-space project, one kid-friendly piece and one site-specific.  

I had a vague embryonary idea for a performance. Then I thought “which of these three scopes is less likely to be popular?”. 

I designed my idea to fit in the site-specific category and sent it. Soon after, I received an invitation to meet with Kat Bridge and Brian Brady to present my project. 

I was so young, not so experienced, although proposing quite a large scale immersive, site-specific performance project grounded in philosophical ideas…  

The kind of project other programmers would generally have been afraid of.  

I remember meeting Brian and Kat in the glass room at Trinity Laban. I was so nervous. Both of them welcomed me with great care and generosity. They were genuinely curious to hear about my ideas, no matter what my age or experience was. 

A few weeks later, I was visiting my parents in Belgium. I received a call from Kat Bridge. She announced to me that my project In Situ had been chosen for the site-specific Compass Commissions. 

I hung up the phone and cried for ages on my own. I was deeply moved to have been trusted by them and felt that the struggle of the past years had been worthwhile and rewarded.  

I didn’t know the real challenge was only just ahead of us.  

We got the best possible support on all level from Brian and Kat. They were such an amazing team. 

We did it.  

It was one of my first significant professional experience and I’ll be forever grateful for it and the kindness it came with.”

Tara d’Arquian

30 years in pictures: Compass Commissions Part 3. A performer walks up a metal staircase. At the bottom there is a swirl of motion in red

Quests by Tara d'Arquian. Photo by Alicia Clarke


An immersive, walk-through work, blending live music with a murder mystery and served with lashings of existential angst” Luke Jennings, The Observer

In 2016, Quests was commissioned by Greenwich Dance and designed for The Borough Hall and depicted the second state of consciousness, the state of the Lion.   

“This is a promotional picture taken for Quests by choreographer Tara D’Arquian which had been created as a site specific promenade performance in Greenwich Dance’s then home – The Borough Hall in Greenwich. They gave us free rein to shoot anywhere in the building and I believe this was taken in the boiler room. I love the strong sense of narrative created, and the sinister feel of the image, not shying away from difficult themes. Greenwich Dance has always championed new work and supported emerging artists and was there for me right at the start of my career. They may have moved building several time’s over their lifetime, but the heart of their work, nurturing talent and bringing people together remains the same.”

Alicia Clarke  

“A few years after meeting Kat Bridge on the Compass Commissions, I returned to Kat and proposed her another crazy project.  

I wanted to turn In Situ into a trilogy of site-specific works and for the second part of the trilogy to be tailor-made for the Borough Hall of Greenwich.  

The idea was to invest the entire Borough Hall and transform it into a fictitious world.  

We also wanted to engage the local community and sent out a call for participation to anyone from the neighbourhood.  

Yann Seabra geniously transformed the place into a whole new universe. With the music of Bruno Humberto and Philippe Lenzini, we carried out our audiences through the darkest corners of the building.  

The piece was about loss, love and creation. How the three intertwine to help us grow and overcome obstacles.  

We worked closely with Olive Kane and Constance Gibbs at the time who gave their soul to support us in making this project come to fruition.  

I still hold dear memories of the wonderful members of the extended cast from the local community.  

It was one of the richest creative experience of my life. Definitely one of a lifetime.”

Tara d’Arquian

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