Why and when was VDT started?
VDT was formed in 1994 by artistic director Charlotte Vincent, after working as a performer in several small physical theatre companies and directing community theatre work in Newcastle Upon Tyne. After taking part in two group projects as part of a dance co-operative based in Sheffield, Charlotte decided to form her own company, making initial duets with Harry Theaker, and Vincent Dance Theatre’s work has grown from there.
How often does VDT produce new work?
In the past VDT produced one middle scale work every two years and then toured it across the UK and abroad. In between years, the company toured some repertoire, created smaller live works, films and installations. Since 2014 the company’s emphasis has shifted to develop a truly integrative, accessible and inclusive approach to making new work on stage, on film and online. Production and participation activity interrogates who we are and how we live, transforming socio-political issues and personal testimonies into socially inclusive, high-quality dance theatre, and participant generated online content, that everyone can relate to. New productions are often informed by social engagement activity and sit alongside mentoring and professional development, dialogue and debate and special projects.
How is VDT funded?
VDT is one of around 650 National Portfolio Organisations, funded by Arts Council England. Our annual grant together with earned income (from touring fees, commissions, participation work and earned income) covers our core staffing, storage and office costs, core management costs, some research and development activity, production costs.
How is the company structured?
The artistic director is currently the only full-time post, with our Company Administrator working 4 days a week, Development Director and Participation & Digital Development Director both working 3 days a week and our Finance Manager 2 days a week. All collaborators and creatives are employed as freelance specialists, including performers, composers, production managers, technicians, marketing and press managers. See The Company page for further details.
How often does VDT tour?
Historically each new production has been performed around 25 times on tour across the UK, with additional performances of repertoire work scheduled outside our main touring periods in the UK and abroad. However we have radically rethought this schedule in response to personal and ecological sustainability. We now focus on creating 5-7 city hubs for each new project (currently Brighton, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Warwick, Glasgow and Leeds) offering longer periods of sustained engagement with a range of venues and groups in each city, with the aim to build more ‘invested’ audiences. See our Calendar for further details.
Where has VDT work been seen abroad?
Live work has toured to the USA, Spain, Australia, Germany, Lithuania, Ireland, Austria, Poland, Italy and Switzerland. Video and film work has been screened in the USA, Canada, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Slovenia.
How does the company find performers to work with?
Artistic director Charlotte Vincent usually works with a loyal core group of collaborators, to whom both she and the company is committed. Performers and collaborators long associated with VDT are Harry Theaker, TC Howard, Aurora Lubos, Janusz Orlik, Patrucja Kujawska, Alex Catona and Rob Clark. All these practitioners also have extensive performing / making careers in their own right. Charlotte unearths new collaborations via her choreographing or facilitative practice in commission, research or professional development contexts. VDT does not audition regularly but details of any auditions are posted on the Opportunities page.
How do you train the dancers / warm up?
When making work as an ensemble, the company usually starts the day leading a yoga, release based / partnering warm up that feeds directly into a playful improvisation where dancers and musicians move freely together. The improvisation is sometimes directed into the creation of new material, offering starting points for the day’s work during the early stages of making process. Some days the group are given private time to warm themselves up, to give their bodies what they know they individually need, but this happens less when children are in the cast. At least once a week a company member will lead a massage/hands on session to ease fatigue and muscle tension.
How can I arrange a work placement or work experience with VDT?
We receive many requests to accommodate work placements both in the office and in the studio, and accept 1-2 placements a year, depending on timing and the company schedule. Please email email@example.com if you would like to know more.
How can I involve VDT in my research at A level, BTEC or Degree level?
We have created this comprehensive website to support students with their research, around specific productions, about the company and its processes. There is detailed information about all of VDT’s past and present Productions, while Charlotte offers 21 Reflections on previous VDT Productions, and gives 5 Insights into the company on the VDT YouTube Channel.
Can I sit in on rehearsals with the company?
VDT’s devising and rehearsal periods involve a closed process, accessed only by those taking part in the making of the work or being mentored by Charlotte.
Can I interview someone from the company?
Due to the number of requests we receive, we are usually unable to communicate directly with individuals regarding specific questions about our style, approach and working methods. We hope that most questions are answered within this website. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can’t find what you are looking for.
How can I involve VDT in my research at PhD Level?
Charlotte welcomes PhD students writing about VDT’s work and will accommodate interviews and significant access to our making process if an appropriate proposition is made.
How could I work with VDT as a composer, musician, designer, technician or production manager?
Artistic director Charlotte Vincent usually works with a loyal group of collaborators, technicians and designers to whom the company is committed. However, we are always interested to hear from experienced back stage crew: production managers, lighting and sound technicians. Please email email@example.com or, for specific vacancies, please see our Opportunities page.
What should I do if I would like to stage one of VDT’s productions?
VDT’s work is copyrighted and we do not permit any reproductions of the work without negotiated consent. This includes student, amateur and professional productions.
Is the music from VDT productions available to buy on CD?
Many of VDT’s commissioned soundtracks are available to stream on VDT’s Soundcloud Page.
Does VDT hold workshops?
VDT leads a wide programme of student, continuing professional development and participation workshops and residencies at theatre/venues, colleges, universities and dance agencies across the UK. engagement workshops are available associated with our latest production. For upcoming professional development opportunities see our calendar for details.
Could you explain the company’s devising process?
VDT devises interdisciplinary performance. This means we make work from scratch. Our work involves sets and/or a feeling of place, original live music, original texts, original song, dark humour and (increasingly) a live acknowledgment of the audience watching the show as we perform it.
Initial stages of development involve Charlotte Vincent conceptualising the work, the core ideas and themes she thinks will drive the work. This is usually done through writing, reading, sketching out ideas an imagining the stage space and what it will look like. Charlotte then starts to discuss the idea with a potential creative team, and with her management team (informing the board of d irectors of her intentions along the way). She then writes about the work so the company can approach venues and commissioning partners to support the making of it, then approaches collaborators (performers, composers, writers, set and lighting designers, dramaturgs) to confirm their interest and involvement in the production.
When the making process begins, Charlotte gathers collaborators in the studio for 8-10 weeks to make a middle scale work or 3-5 weeks to create a small scale production. Sometimes the company will stagger the rehearsal process. Led and directed by Charlotte, the performers, musicians, writers and dancers develop a language together, through improvisation in the first instance, that slips between the forms, integrating text and movement, music and dance, gesture and song, working with set and objects and making bad jokes.
Found objects and found costumes are brought in by Charlotte (and sometimes the performers) and the staging is there from the start to to create a sense of place. A ‘feel’ or era fixes the style and aesthetic for each new work. Increasingly we build a ‘set’ as we go, establishing an environment to play in that could exist in the real world rather than seem fictional. During the making of each production we always ask: Who are we, where are we and what are we doing here? We get clear about the context we are in, the concept we are working to and the content we are creating and whether it is saying what we want it to say. VDT performers perform as extensions of themselves, exploring what they are personally interested in. They are never fictional ‘characters’. Using their imaginations, bodies, voices and their developed sense of ‘play’ VDT aims to create work that draws you in, moves you and makes you think. VDT’s dramaturg Ruth Ben Tovim and rehearsal director supports Charlotte during the process to be as clear as she can be about the content, form and structure of the work and how it is functioning as a whole.
Once the structure and content of the work is set and rehearsed, we go on tour to perform it live. Charlotte spends the first leg of any tour tweaking and re-rehearsing the work, to ensure it is the best it can be and that it is somehow ‘saying’ what it is she wanted to say when she initially conceived the work.