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As part of the Dance Insights Online programme,2020 Artist in Residence Roberta Jean shares an exciting programme offering a unique insight into her creative inspiration.

This is the fifth in the series Dance Insights Online – a curated online programme of performances, discourse and events, provocations and artistic inspirations.  Each programme will be online for two weeks and offer audiences an insight into the process and mind of the creator.


Roberta’s Inspirations

Robert Altman (Various works including Nashville and 3 Women)

In relationship to watching Altman’s work, film and actually most art, I really appreciate this quote from film critic, Roger Ebert:

‘We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us’.

I’m really into watching older artists/makers body of work just now. I’m happy to have become further acquainted with Altman’s work over lockdown, having previously only seen a later work. I find his earlier films so enchanting and funny. I love the way he works with stories in naturalistic/ real settings, and critiques and pokes fun at societal norms. Also, I’m more than willing to spend my time watching Sissy Spacek, Lily Tomlin and Shelley Duvall on screen.

Film: Steve James on Nashville via Criterion.

Rosemary Butcher

“This British artist is an icon of the New Dance movement. Radically, uncompromisingly and indefatigably expanding the limits of dance”
– Suddeutsche Zeitung

In nearly four decades Rosemary Butcher has made over 50 works, toured internationally and is regarded as one of Europe’s most consistently radical and innovative choreographers.

Profoundly influenced by her time in New York from 1970-72 where she encountered the work of The Judson Group at its height, she subsequently introduced those ideas to Britain at her 1976 groundbreaking concert in London’s Serpentine Gallery. Since then, Butcher has developed her own movement language and choreographic structure. By her determination to remain an independent artist, her use of cross-arts collaboration in music, visual arts, film and architecture within the choreographic process and her frequent choice of non-theatrical spaces to present her work, she has forged her own place within the European contemporary dance scene. Unlike many of her British contemporaries who see their work as Dance-Theatre, Butcher’s influence has followed the ideas and concepts of the visual arts, particularly in painting and sculpture, and has engaged with the developing philosophies within those movements.

I knew Rosemary quite well and I’m still getting to know her incredible and extensive portfolio. I’m fascinated by how she made sense of her practice and each choreography.

Click here for Rosemary’s work 

Jonathan Webb

Jonathan is a sound designer and creative researcher who specialises in the translation of the story into sound. He creates audio works inspired by and in response to historical events and works of fiction.

Working across a range of areas, including film pre-production and historical interpretation, Jonathan analyses and interprets narrative, setting and character from a sonic perspective, using an audio montage of appropriated materials to concretise the fictional world and evoke the soundscapes of the past.

Jonathan is my husband and collaborator and obviously the person I’ve spent the most time with during lockdown! His attention to detail with regards to creating a narrative from the sound is brilliant. His work is so evocative and layered and he inspires me to intensify and bring more rigour to my own practice.

Click here for Jonathan’s work


In Conversation with Roberta Jean and Victoria Gray


Roberta speaks with Victoria Gray about dancing at the intersection of health, choreography and somatic practice.

Victoria is an artist and practice-led researcher and has presented work nationally and internationally throughout the UK, Europe, USA and Canada. With an initial conservatoire training in dance and somatic practice (1998 – 2004), her primary medium and material is the body. Her work includes actions, interventions, time-based sculpture and video, being presented in museums, galleries and festivals in performance art, fine art and choreographic contexts. Currently, she is an Autism Spectrum Specialist, working within FE, HE and arts-based contexts. This aligns with her current artistic research, developing on her PhD (awarded 2017), exploring experiences of autistic perception and sensory differences in ASC through somatic practice and process philosophy.

Content Warning: This conversation addresses themes such as suicide, mental health and drug use.  If you are affected by any of the issues raised by the artists there are links to further reading in the article, or you may wish to visit NHS UK for advice and links to relevant support organisations.

Please Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of FABRIC. FABRIC does not endorse the taking of drugs of any kind without medical advice and supervision.


Roberta’s Lockdown Selection

Find Solace and feel nostalgic with Roberta’s playlist.