My experience at: ChampdAction.LAbO


24 October 2019

LASALLE students (from left):  Chua Pei Yun, Valerie Lim and Eilidh Harrower at ChampdAction.LAbO in Antwerp, Belgium.

LASALLE recently supported four of its 2019 graduands to attend the interdisciplinary laboratory ChampdAction.LAbO in Belgium. In late August, Eilidh Harrower from BA(Hons) Acting, Khoo Li Min from BA(Hons) Music as well as Chua Pei Yun and Valerie Lim from BA(Hons) Dance spent a week with other young creators from various disciplines in Antwerp.
As part of the International Summer School hosted by deSingel arts centre, the intensive programme aimed at providing a platform for communication and interaction between various arts disciplines. Through short workshops and lectures, participants were encouraged to collaborate to produce new work centred on the theme of ‘Disobedience’, with the emphasis on creating together across disciplines. Outstanding works were selected to be shown to the general public.
Eilidh shares more about her unforgettable experience at ChampdAction.LAbO.

Mission impossible
It seems almost impossible that people from all over the world convened in Belgium to create new work in just over a week, but that was exactly what we accomplished at ChampdAction.LAbO 2019

To support our artistic journeys as visual artists, illustrators, actors, dancers, musicians, we attended guest lectures and workshops on a variety of topics with coaches from various arts disciplines guiding us through our projects.

20190825_144638.jpgImage credit: Champd’Action.LAbO

We were encouraged to evoke the theme of ‘Disobedience’ in the work we created. Some people took the theme quite literally, with one girl choosing to do a solo performance in defiance of the ‘no solo performers’ rule laid out by the coaches to ensure interdisciplinary work. Some took a subtler approach, allowing the idea of disobedience to influence the way they usually approached their practice with musicians playing instruments in ways they never normally would, while others tried to push themselves out of their comfort zones to engage with the projects.

Climate change
I chose to approach disobedience differently with each project. The first was a live-installation centred on climate change. The installation’s centrepiece was an animation of a tree slowly devolving into a statue of plastic and trash, against improvised music and voice. It focused on how we as humans has disobeyed the Earth and continue to disobey the warnings of scientists and climate experts. While the project did not make it to presentation night, the process of developing the project was an eye opener. Working with composers, musicians and an animator in ways never before, I gained insights on some of the amazing things people can create within their own arts discipline.

Sour Surrender
In my next project Sour Surrender, I collaborated with Emma and Roberta, who had come to ChampdAction.LAbO with a pre-existing idea for a piece that explored social constructs, memories and human senses. I was originally brought in as a writer/director/dramaturg, but as the week went by, became increasingly integrated with the piece, to the point that I became part of the performance on presentation night using lemons as props. At the end of the performance, the audience was invited to break the boundary between performer and audience by picking up and throwing the lemons at us. Sour Surrender is a piece that I hope to continue seeing through the next few stages of the development process.

Illustrative Movement Score
Another collaboration that originated from ChampdAction.LAbO is the Illustrative Movement Score collective which aimed to create a dialogue between illustration and movement. consisting of myself, fellow LASALLE student Chua Pei Yun and Belgian illustrator Sarah Alves who created fascinating illustrations of the metamorphosis of a creature which Pei Yun and I turned into choreography.

DSC03427.JPGOne of Sarah Alves’ drawings. Image credit: Illustrative Movement Score

When translating Sarah’s metamorphosing creature into improvised movement, we focused on different aspects of the creature. Pei Yun’s improvisation concentrated on the shapes created with her body and how they mirrored the drawing while mine focused on embodying the creature’s energy and the impulses that stemmed from it.

While discussing the differences in our interpretation, we were struck by how the project opened up opportunities for an expanded exploration of the connection between movement and illustration. Hence we explored how Sarah could respond to our movements in the form of new illustrations and how artists from other disciplines could interpret the movements. 

Although we had a wealth of insights on the dialogue between illustration and movement, we had no idea how to present it as a final piece. This was when we decided to document the process instead and explain how we intend to continue with it in the future. The Illustrative Movement Score collective is something that we intend to grow and expand to include more people.

impossible pattern.jpg Impossible patterns and their interpretation. Image credit: Illustrative Movement Score

Lessons for the future
ChampdAction.LAbO was an incredible experience that expanded the perspectives of everyone involved in interdisciplinary art making. It brought artists and creators together in ways that would have been unlikely outside of the laboratory. I really believe that this experience will impact my future work – gaining insights into other disciplines and seeing how beauty can arise even in the unlikeliest pairings. I recommend the Champ d’Action experience to anyone in the arts interested in the creation of interdisciplinary work, and I hope to return in the future to learn even more.

DSC03467.jpgA guest interpreting the movements as Eilidh explains the work to another visitor. Image credit: Illustrative Movement Score