Ms Rachel Davies
School: Design School
Position: Senior Researcher / Senior Lecturer Moving Image
Rachel Davies is an artist and filmmaker with more than 20 years experience of directing movement-based moving image works across commercial and art platforms: MTV Asia, BBC Open University, Dance films, Film installations, and Projections for stage.
Her first film, Room to Dream, made while she was a BA Fine Art student, was selected for the London Film Festival in 1991. Soon after, Davies left the UK for the Far East where she directed promos for MTV Asia. She then returned to London to complete an MA in Animation at the RCA in 1997.
After a stint of directing at BBC Open University, Davies became Associate Artist at The Place in 2000. She also began researching and developing her own 'kinetic aesthetic' by re-considering the function of moving image interventions as joint drivers of narrative exposition within live dance scenarios. Using integrated film and moving image sequences as part of an animated set design, Davies has sought to expand the possibilities for performer interactivity and nuanced storytelling in a theatre setting. She has also built a reputation as a consummate collaborator having directed film and projection works for the stage in partnership with choreographers and performers, such as Akram Khan, as well as dance/theatre companies including H2Dance, Protein Dance and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, among others.
As a recipient of public funding Davies has been able to further other research interests concerning the interplay of dance and film as an enhanced method of visually documenting the biographical experience of others. She was commissioned by the Arts Council to make the short film Gold (2004) in collaboration with Hanna Gillgren (H2 Dance) and two female gymnasts from the Europa Gym Club, Erith. The film encapsulates four months of observational research, and is notable for its technically challenging cinematography and unexpected sharp framings, used by Davies to create a poetic metaphor for the promise and adrenaline of 'everyday' youth. Following screenings on Channel 4 and at over 50 venues around the world the film subsequently won the IMZ Dance Screen Grand Prix in 2006. Davies also became a John Thaw Fellow at Manchester University for one year from 2006-07. Later, Gold (2004) featured as part of the British Council and Forward Motion 2 dvd touring package (2010-12) reaching an estimated audience of 20,000 across major venues worldwide.
Davies's ongoing commitment to the idea of personal, emotionally driven work is also evident in The Assembly (2007) - a film installation commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Sadler's Wells. Examining the power of voices through a portrayal of collective memory, The Assembly (2007) initially draws upon Davies's own memories and experiences as a teenager in the Manchester Girl's Choir. It is also based upon extensive research on female teenage identity, fandom and the impact of pop music, supported by interviews with former members of the choir. The film installation, premiered at the Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester where it received a six week run (July – August 2007). Following the work's subsequent presentation at Live Screen International Festival, Sadler's Wells (1 -3 November 2007) ACE funded a single-screen documentary version of The Assembly, distributed via festivals and also broadcast on Channel Four in 2008.
In 2010 Sadler's Well's commissioned The Light Garden as a devised participatory form of theatre for under 4s. The original research imperative for this work came from Davies's Choreodrome residency in 2009 and the uninvited interference of children during a film screening event at The Place.
The Light Garden (2010) utilizes interactive film, video animation and lighting technology to create an immersive environment in the form of a campsite (in a theatre space). It also investigates methods for involving young children in the actual completion of an interactive live theatre/moving image artwork that adult audiences can also interpret and enjoy. Having initially toured nationally with ACE funding, The Light Garden (2010) has continued as a featured attraction at international festivals: Dublin Dance (May 2013); Imaginart (Children's theatre) Catalonia (November 2013); and Aarhus Festival Denmark (August 2014).
Since directing three short films (Postcards of East London) for Big Dance Olympic screens in 2012, Davies has been researching and developing her follow up to The Light Garden (2010). Funded by ACE and BDE, They Tuck You Up extends Davies's investigation into devised participatory forms of theatre for family audiences. Based upon the expanded premise of an immersive narrative environment contained within a live theatre construct, the new work also seeks to establish improved methods of triggering an audience to complete the work through the combined use of digital forms of interactivity and performer/actor led interventions.
Davies has featured in conversations with Lisa Le Feuvre on Woman's Hour, Radio 4 in 2007 and with Vincent Woods on RTE Radio 1, Dublin in 2013. She was also a speaker at The Watching Dance Consultative Forum, part of the AHRC Kinesthetic Empathy conference (2008). In addition, her work has been reviewed by Dance Theatre Journal, Leonardo Digital and the Body Space and Technology Journal.
- Rachel Davies Film
- Mobiledance Postcards of East London
- The Place
- Protein Dance Theatre
- Barrowland Ballet
- Cornerhouse Gallery
- British Council forward motion collections
- ReelDance Moving Image Collection (MIC)
- Quarantine Theatre Company
- British Dance Edition research projects
- The Art of Intervention AHRC project Fran Lloyd
Davies's research expertise is linked to her track record as a director and producer of dance and performance related films and her associated roles as a video installation and projection artist.
Rachel's current research interests are in applying her extensive knowledge in directing dance films, animations and projections to her own authored video installation work which seeks to actively incorporate a family theatre audience in an interrogation of the contemporary status of the family and the familiar.
- 2011'Graft' mentoring programme with Quarantine Theatre Co.
- 2009'The Big Intensive' Jerwood Studio, invited participant
- 2007John Thaw Fellow in Drama at Manchester University
- 2000Associate Artist at The Place
Educational and professional qualifications
- 1996MA Animation Royal College of Art
- 1991BA(Hons) Fine Art Nottingham Trent University
Conferences & events
Conferences / presentations:
» 'Moves' festival Liverpool. Festival launch presentation. 16 March 2010
» The Watching Dance Consultative Forum, part of AHRC Kinesthetic Empathy conference October 08 2008 http://www.watchingdance.org/news_events/archived_events/index.php
Work in collections:
» Gold: British Council tour & Forward Motion 2 touring dvd package 2010-12
Reached 20,000 audience in major venues worldwide
» Gold: ReelDance Moving Image Collection (MIC). University of New South Wales Sydney. 2012
» Loose in Flight: British Council Forward Motion 1 touring dvd package 2001
» The Assembly. Cornerhouse July 2007 / Sadler's Wells 2007
» A Time And A Place Solo exhibition. Stanley Picker Gallery 2005
» Real Taste Mile End: ExDox - Experimental Documentary Film Festival touring collection 'art & moving images in a global context'. CologneOFF Sept 2012- Sept 2013
» Postcards of East London: Stepney Green Football Pitch, Bancroft Library, Real Taste Mile End. Big Olympics Screens UK
» Gold: Royal Festival Hall 2012
» The Assembly (the film): WhatIf Festival, Siobhan Davies Studios. 2011
» Gold: broadcast on Channel 4 TV and Arte, and screened at over 50 festivals around the world, including 'Reeldance': Australia inc. Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh Film Fest, Chicago Film Fest, Montreal Fest of New Cinema, Brno 16 Czech Rep: Honourary Mention, Tampere Film Fest Finland, 'VideoDance': Athens, World Cup Gymnastics Championship Birmingham NEC, Science Museum London.
» H2Dance. Say Something. Cultural Olympiad ACE / Digital Dance. UK 2012
» Mobiledance. Postcards of East London. BIG Dance. UK 2012
» Protein Dance Theatre. Dear Body, LOL (lots of love). National and International touring 2009-2012
» Barrowland Ballet. A Conversation with Carmel. London and Scotland tour. 2011
» Polka Theatre. How to Catch A Star. 2009
» Erzatz. Lap of the Dogs. Bedford University 2006
» Robert Cohan. Study. The Place 2005
» Kadam. The Art of Travel. Edinburgh Festival & UK tour. 2005
» A2. All The People I Have Met. Hoxton Hall. 2003
» A2. Do You Want This Once Again? ICA 2002
» Erzatz. 24 Acts Of Arson. Purcell Room 2002
» H2Dance. Dithering Heights. Place 2002
Grants, funding and awards
- 2012ACE/BDE They Tuck You Up Your Mum and Dad
- 2011LOL (Lots of love): collab with Protein, received Winner of Best Independent Dance Company, Nationl Dance Critics' Award
- 2010British Dance Edition
- 2010ACE/Sadlers Wells, The Light Garden
- 2007MIF/ACE/Sadlers Wells, The Assembly
- 2005ACE Gold
- 2005Gold: IMZ grand prix (£15K award)
- 2005Gold: Portobello Film Festival Audience Award
- 2001AHRC Living Just Enough
- 2000The Place Dance Film Commission We Got Old
Research groups & programmes
Conference or Workshop Item
Barber, Stephen [Speaker], Davies, Rachel [Speaker], Horrocks, Chris [Speaker], Mancke, Carol [Speaker] and Maude-Roxby, Alice [Speaker] (2009) The art of intervention: Kingston University responses: Japanese mob. In: The art of intervention: critical perspectives on the intersections of private and public memory; 14 Feb 2009, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)