Hagit Yakira www.hagityakira.com
I met in 2013 while working on my production 'Air Hunger' and I discovered an amazing collaborator.
With so much sensitivity, professionalism, and wisdom Lou helped me to choreograph the piece I wished to create. What was striking for me the most was Lou's approach, never imposing her opinion but rather always helping me in forming mine, always thinking about the art making, and the needs of the collaborators involved. Lou has a very generous and respectful way of challenging one's work, decision making, and habits.
The experience with Lou was very empowering for me as a choreographer and as a woman; I hope this is only the beginning of a longer creative collaboration, and I can't wait for the next process alongside her.
Kirsty Sulston, Producer – Public Programme South East Dance
Lou is a delight to work with. South East Dance engaged Lou to work on a dance and early years residency as Workshop Dramaturg. When discussing the possibilities of the role and the project Lou brought ambitious ideas and was always able to provide creative solutions to practical constraints. Lou embarked on this ambitious project with us with a very open mind and worked responsively to enable it to develop organically.
Lou’s ability to read people and situations was impressive and she quickly gained the respect of those she was working with for the very first time. Particularly impressive was her ability to work with two very different dance companies and mentor, steer, provoke and help shape their work in a non-obtrusive manner and always with a sense of humour. As a Producer I felt reassured working with Lou as she is a true collaborator with the ability to listen, support and inspire all in equal measures.
South East Dance has already agreed to work further with Lou and I was delighted to learn that the dance companies we worked with on this project have both independently asked to work with Lou again.
I would urge other dance companies snap up Lou and very much look forward to developing a stronger relationship with her at South East Dance.
Koen Augustijnen - les ballets c de la b
Lou is as an inspiring and supportive dramaturg. She can bring a table full of documentation and information to the rehearsal space if required. She is a good listener and a sharp third eye, taking at times distance to be able to give the right feedback. Asking essential and critical questions without blocking the process, always with the goal of making the artistic proposal clearer.
She is also concerned with the position and point of view of the dancers which makes Lou a constructive bridge between the choreographer and the dancers.
For more see our chapter in 'International Dramaturgies - A fresh Perspective' due to be published by Methuen in 2014.
Jose Agudo - Choreographer 'KI' - Phoenix Dance Theatre
After my last creation Time/Dropper I felt that I wanted to move forward in my choreography and get deeper into my thoughts. So, the idea of bringing a dramaturge into the process was essential for me. I wanted to commit to an idea and develop it with good guidance. So I asked Lou to join the process of KI. She helped me to get through my ideas and to find exactly what I wanted to say. I found all the work previous to the studio really useful: all the questions about why I wanted to talk about Genghis Khan and what KI means for me. Particularly, I really enjoyed the moment when Lou came into the studio. It was just what I needed. I was confident that she knew the source of the work and her questions were essential for me and Josh, the dancer. Now, I wouldn't think about creating a piece without her!
Damien Jalet - Choreographer
From our first day of work I knew we had a collaborator with a total investment in the creative process . A quality that I usually demand from anyone I work with but in this case I was been repeatedly very impressed by how serious and committed Lou was during the making process.
The theme of the piece had a lot to do with the space one takes for himself among other people's spaces. It was definitely a concrete challenge for everyone in the creation since there were two directors, and many people were assisting us . In this I really appreciated how Lou found her way to have a strong point of view which she expressed with clarity but without imposing it in any way.
She finds a balance between subjectivity and objectivity, respecting our desires and visions but being able to question them when they didn't really convince her. In this way she's a real interlocutor. She pushed us to be intelligible and rigourous in our choices, encouraging us to analyse our doubts and helping us to identify what we were really looking for. Pushing us out of our comfort zones and evaluating any propositions in the context of an overall coherence.
Her background is in theatre but she has clear points of view on every aspect of the creation and definitely on movement, movement quality and choreographic choices. She also engaged a strong dialogue with some of the dancers, and even wrote them notes to help them to find the right state and engagement for certain dance sequences.
Some of her greatest contributions to Babel are the texts that she wrote completely, or the ones she condensed and clarified for better timing and understanding; doing incredibly efficient work in matters where I felt unqualified. The same goes for any of the promotional texts, where she presented intelligent and sharp points of view and clarification on both the creation and its process.
Lou would also give us impressively detailed notes after each of her working days, and somehow always paid a lot of attention to them, sometimes helping us to solve problems we had with scenes.
The function of dramaturg is sometimes hard to define, and difficult as well to identify precisely how much one has influenced a show. In the case of Babel I can say that Lou definitely left a very clear and concrete print on this piece.
I very much look forward to working with her again.
Larbi Cherkaoui - Choreographer
Lou Cope first worked alongside my team for nearly 8 months during the making of my piece, Myth, which she had observed and studied as part of her research. These experiences appear as the chapter "Mythologizing Myth" in the forthcoming book, Making Contemporary Theatre, to be published by Manchester University Press later this year.
From the beginning, I was struck by her grasp of group dynamics, her curiosity in and her understanding of contemporary performance and above all, her capacity to observe without intrusion or judgement. Despite the seeming "outsiderliness" of her position as researcher, she was soon accepted by the entire team of about thirty people from more than ten countries - musicians, dancers, actors, carers, choreographers and technicians. The discussions we had on some of the key issues in the creative process - such as role of the director (and therefore the performer) in collaborative devising or the questions of signature in multiply authored work - were invigorating and eye-opening to both of us. I deeply appreciated Lou's ability to situate her perspective within its inevitable individual subjectivity, never imposing an opinion as more than itself - a rare quality.
Our first collaboration was such a constructive one that I was delighted to invite her as dramaturgical consultant on Sutra, my 2008 piece made with Antony Gormley, composer Szymon Brzoska and 17 monks from the Shaolin Temple of Henan, China. Although Lou could only come in towards the end of the making (the first three months having been spent in a monastery in China), her contribution to the narrative unfolding of the piece and its central conceit is significant, and her presence during the last week of production was both inspiring and reassuring. She help me establish the dramaturgical nub of the piece and to articulate it through an accessible device.
I look forward to our next venture together, and I am very happy to recommend Lou Cope as a dramaturg and a writer.
Professor Emilyn Claid – Professor of Choreography Dartington College of Arts:
Lou’s investigations are unique as she explores the collaborative devising methodologies for dance and theatre, where questions of directing, choreographing and performing are reconsidered within contemporary cross-disciplinary performance frames. She is aware of, and utilises, the merging focus between dance and theatre, that draws her into current debates in theory and practice regarding the interplay between the roles of performer, director, choreographer and dramaturg. Her own practice as a theatre director and collaborator continuously energises her questions of research.
She writes with clarity and in a style that is accessible, knowledgeable, articulate and energised with humour.
Practicing as a dramaturg provokes discussion regarding the ‘expert-spectator’ position, the challenges of observing, writing and describing process and performance. These challenges allow her to question and re-think the role of dramaturgy. Writing in the role of dramaturg, about the processes of making, brings together her skills as a practitioner in both performance making and writing. This is a definite strength of her research and places Lou in the forefront of practice led research.
Dr Simon Murray – senior Lecturer University of Glasgow (Former Head of Theatre – Dartington College of Arts)
Lou taught as an associate lecturer in the Theatre field of Dartington College of Arts for a number years, and quickly became a valued and much respected member of a large team. We employed Lou particularly for her knowledge, experience and practice as a maker and director of devised theatre. Lou made a challenging and productive contribution [seminars, staff development, training days] to intellectual debate within the Theatre field, specifically around pedagogical strategies to improve students’ compositional and dramaturgical skills and knowledge. She made intelligent and highly constructive interventions into curriculum development and planning around the function of director in devised theatre, and particularly helped us to [re] examine the role of the tutor-director in the syllabus. It is relevant to note that Lou did not simply teach other people’s courses, but planned, wrote and managed modules and workshops in both university and professional contexts.
Lou’s research preoccupations around the presence [or otherwise] of a director in devised work is very timely as the still relatively young history [less than 4 decades] of collaborative performance practice wrestles with issues of specialism, interdisciplinarity and how to enhance and enrich the dramaturgical qualities of the process. Little of academic quality has been written about the complex nature of devised theatre, and even less on the reconfigured role of director in these practices. Lou’s research and dissemination of its outcomes promises to make a significant impact, both academically and practically in the world of devised and experimental theatre. As a writer myself [e.g. Jacques Lecoq, Routledge 2003; Physical Theatres, Routledge 2007] inhabiting a similar territory to Lou, I have been impressed by the depth and sophistication of her understanding of the issues facing both practitioners and academics in this area of theatre practice and intellectual enquiry. Her history as professional theatre maker/director, teacher and researcher equip her most appropriately for this endeavour.
Lou is assiduous, committed, sharply intelligent and sensitive in both her research and her teaching. She has an exemplary facility for integrating theory and practice, and for translating her own professional history into an academic and pedagogical context. Students and theatre colleagues find her properly demanding, but also thoroughly supportive and receptive to their needs and problems.