Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 4: Making Accessible Work

Talking Moves | 10 June 2022

In this episode, we talk to Rosie Heafford and Neus Gil Cortés about making accessible work.  

Today, there probably isn’t a company or organisation that would say they didn’t want to make accessible work, and yet there are still people excluded from it: be they performers, collaborators or audiences. We talk to two artists about their approaches to making work accessible and get some tips about how we as a sector might do this better. 

We begin by asking our guests to talk a bit more about the work that they do before jumping right in to discuss the almost ‘buzzword’ accessibility. What does the word accessible really mean within our art form?  

We acknowledge that it is really difficult, if not impossible to create work that’s accessible for everybody and hear about two very different approaches and pieces of work that Rosie and Neus have made as artistic directors and choreographers.  

We move on to discuss the audience experience – how do you remove barriers and make the work exciting for all? We talk about different approaches of making with audience members being part of the process from the start, and how creating different versions of the same work gives audiences choices in what, and how they would like to experience it. 

Naturally, the conversation reflects on the pandemic and how practices for creating had to change in the studio. We discuss how this allowed for a more collaborative process and even opened new doors to creating work for the digital stage. 

We speak about the importance of describing what the experience is going to be like for audiences, listening to what people need and the importance of taking the onus to make needs clear away from disabled people. 

And finally, we talk about what it means to be a disabled leader, what it means to the work and how it affects fellow collaborators and audiences. 

Who's Who

Neus Gil Cortés. A woman with long brown hair is wearing a blue boiler suit. She is sitting with her knee tucked under her chin. The background is purple

Neus Gil Cortés

Neus Gil Cortés is a Spanish choreographer, dramaturg and mentor based in UK. With more than fifteen years of experience as a dance artist, Neus has danced in companies such as Hofesh Shechter Company, National Dance Company Wales and Dance Works Rotterdam, amongst others.

Neus choreographed from early on in her professional career, first supported by the different companies she was dancing in, and from 2009 as an independent choreographer, when she was selected for One Night’s Dance, a platform for young choreographers hosted by Dansateliers Rotterdam. In 2015 Neus formed the company Nua Dance.

Neus’ most recent creation is NOISE, a BBC interactive film and an immersive performance for deaf and hearing audiences co-commissioned by BBC Arts, One Dance UK, The Place and Dance East. NOISE is touring the UK Autumn 2022- Spring 2023

Previous works include QUIMERA, a dance and circus performance supported by Jackson’s Lane and The Point, and two commissions for National Centre for Circus Arts.
Rosie Heafford. A woman wearing a flowery patterned dress with a brown belt and pale green cardigan. She is smiling and her dark hair is swept into a plait which sits on her left shoulder

Rosie Heafford

Rosie Heafford is a disabled choreographer and Artistic Director of Second Hand Dance. Established in 2013, Second Hand Dance has toured the globe – from the UK to Europe, China, Canada, and the USA. They create beautiful, sensory live dance experiences with a rich visual and participatory aesthetic such as We Touch We Play We Dance, a celebratory dance performance for 0-3 year olds that is currently touring and Grass, a show for ages 2 – 7 that has been performed over 20 times to nearly 15,000 audiences since 2015. Since 2020 Second Hand Dance have developed digital dance films for young audiences with access at their heart, experimenting with creating access tools such as audio description for children by children.

Collaboration with audiences is vital in the creation and performance of her work. With every project she makes, she engages with children and adults throughout the research. Dancing together, talking together, observing together, and allowing this to inform her creative decisions. Second Hand Dance believes that audiences of all ages, including babies, deserve a world where dance, empathy and play are central to our lives and as vital and fluent as language.

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