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Celebrating Surrey with StopGAP

PUBLISHED: 11:21 26 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 20 February 2013

Celebrating Surrey with StopGAP

Celebrating Surrey with StopGAP

As the resident dance company at Farnham Maltings in Farnham, StopGAP are at the heart of one of Surrey's most creative hubs – little surprise then that they have been gearing up for this June's Celebrating Surrey arts festival in Guildford

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2010

As the resident dance company at Farnham Maltings in Farnham, StopGAP are at the heart of one of Surreys most creative hubs little surprise then that they have been gearing up for this Junes Celebrating Surrey arts festival in Guildford. Here, we speak to artistic director Vicki Balaam to find out more about them

So tell us about your group
StopGAP is a contemporary dance company made up of five professional dancers, with and without disabilities, which showcases the work of both international and home-grown choreographers.

Founded in 1996, out of an education project for Woking Dance Festival, we perform around 40 times a year all over the world and deliver a huge programme of education activity. Our performances are a combination of precision dance technique and theatrical dance, always guaranteed to entertain the crowds.

Last year, we also formed the StopGAP Youth Company an integrated group of 15 young adults who make and present work in Surrey.

What do you think is most worth celebrating about the arts in Surrey?
I am most excited about the way artists are talking to each other and the fantastic level of openness and interest in each others art that happens in Surrey. This seems to be increasing and is also nurtured and encouraged by Surrey Arts.

I am particularly proud of the quality of work that involves people with and without disabilities, as I think that it is a real jewel in the countys cultural landscape. Celebrating Surrey is great and I am looking forward to the best of Surreys artists coming together and showing what we do best.

Is there a Surrey-based artist that you particularly admire?
I moved to Surrey to study dance at the university and never left the county, so a lot of my influence has come from people I have worked with in the area.

My biggest influence when I got here was Hannah Curr, Guildford arts development officer, who initiated the StopGAP project. Although not a trained dancer, she has such passion for the way dance can unlock peoples belief in themselves and helped me rediscover my love for my art form.

She also taught me the value of well thought out development work that has long-term sustainability at its heart, with an irreverent approach to making it happen!

Where in Surrey do you tend to go to seek inspiration?
Always, always, always Virginia Water contemplating the lake, getting lost in the valley gardens and being among such immensely strong yet pliable trees puts everything in perspective.

Which is your favourite exhibition space in the county?
I know it sounds strange, but my favourite place is Painshill Park in Cobham. As a young dance worker, I created my first site-specific piece with young people of all abilities there, which had been a long-term ambition of mine. I found the mixture of formal landscape and rugged nature very inspirational, and I admire the way the park was created to give a theatrical experience to each person who walks its pathways and has a real sense of fun.

And finally, will you be creating anything special for Celebrating Surrey?
We will be presenting a number of pieces as part of Celebrating Surrey. We are in the process of making our new show, Trespass, which will be touring nationally from May 2010 onwards with performances in Surrey at Loseley Park and Farnham Maltings. StopGAPs integrated youth group will also be performing their latest work as part of the festival.

  • Celebrating Surrey takes place on Saturday June 26 and Sunday 27 at the historic Loseley Park in Guildford.

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