Heinali talks to us about his latest score for Jean Abreu: A Thread

Music composer Oleg Shpudeiko (Heinali) from Ukraine, discusses his latest work for Jean Abreu: A Thread.

Oleg writes and performs beautiful, emotive music under Heinali moniker — Electroacoustics, live piano improvisation, music for films, games, performances and exhibitions.


What attracted you to get involved with A Thread?

While some of my existing compositions have been featured in a few choreographic performances, I’ve never composed original music for a choreography before. But I always was interested — some works that were composed in the past were written with choreographic performances in mind. Plus, it was a great chance to work with wonderful musicians (Andrew Maginley and Benjamin Kaminski) which I don’t get very often as I specialize in electroacoustic music, don’t have a formal music education and usually spend most of my time working alone in my studio. Using studio as an instrument, as Brian Eno would have probably said. So when Jean offered a collaboration I couldn’t resist. Actually, while working on Bound, I was working in parallel on another exciting project which is quite related to choreography — Bound, a video game by Plastic / Sony Santa Monica. Princess, the game’s protagonist, moves and interacts with the world with dance. Her movements were captured from a professional dancer and feature if I’m not mistaken both contemporary dance and ballet. I think some of the ideas I had for Bound were influenced by the work I did on A Thread and vice versa.

What should the audience expect from the show?

In terms of music, it features both rather free interpretations of old music by Monteverdi, Dowland, anonymous author performed by Andrew (theorbo) and Benjamin (viola) and electroacoustic compositions recorded by me. Both original pieces of music were written specifically for A Thread and one old composition which Jean decided to have in the work. Actually, music’s structure was heavily influenced by Jean’s method of work, which is much closer to improvisation and the process itself feels like solving a difficult puzzle. Instead of composing for a fixed, rigid structure of a complete performance, I had to make lots of edits and rearrangements as we went through numerous changes both in the structure and fragments. It was quite challenging because, when you deal with a composed electroacoustic it’s very difficult to make changes to it, as it exists in the form of audio recordings, not scores (there are exceptions, of course).

What influences did you draw upon when preparing for A Thread?

It might sound strange, but Rothko’s works. In my solo work, I rely heavily on a looping and layering technique, which is similar to Rothko’s Color Field painting. I employed this technique to a certain extent in music for A Thread. Another influence is Renaissance and late Medieval pieces that were considered for the project. Fro example, some of the electroacoustic compositions started out as heavily processed versions of music by Dowland and Monteverdi.

Please can you describe how your music interacts with the dancers and set design?

A Thread’s set design feels both ‘minimal and’ ‘unsafe’ — the dancers interact with heavy and loud weights, there’s a lot of tension in the choreography. Instead of writing a clashing percussive score, I decided to incorporate the sounds produced by the dancers and accentuate the mood and dynamics for the particular fragment of the piece. As I mentioned before, the music wasn’t written to fit a complete, finished performance. Both choreography and music were in a flux until the very end. I believe, a lot of decisions Jean has made were influenced by music and a lot of decisions I made were influenced by Jean’s changes in choreography and structure while we worked together in London. I think it became so intertwined and interdependent that’s it’s difficult to separate certain aspects of it and tell how a specific part interacts.

Jean Abreu: A Thread takes place Fri 4 Nov 2016, RFH – book tickets here

Dance at Southbank Centre

Wendy Martin, Head of Dance at Southbank Centre was recently interviewed about our dance programme and our Unlimited Festival.

Hi Wendy, can you tell me a bit about Southbank Centre’s dance provision?

We want to share our passion for dance by presenting and commissioning the work of artists and companies that excite, inspire and provoke. We also look for work that speaks to the themes of our festivals. Across the year, the programme at Southbank is driven by a series of thematic festivals that provide a framework for investigating the world of contemporary dance from particular perspectives.

How are you engaging new dance audiences at Southbank Centre?

Learning and participation is hugely important to us and there are always opportunities to become engaged with dance more deeply than by simply watching a performance. This is a great way for people to step into the world of dance. For Unlimited – our upcoming festival celebrating the artistic vision and originality of artists with disabilities – people can take part in a workshop led by integrated dance company Stopgap, where disabled and non-disabled people with no dance skills can learn together.

We’re also presenting the return of Groove on Down the Road, ZooNation’s hip-hop dance show inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The performers are from ZooNation’s youth company, all aged between nine and 19. The show is bringing in family audiences, many of whom are seeing a dance show for the first time.

What’s your programming process?

The only way you can really understand the landscape of what’s happening in contemporary dance is by seeing a lot of work. To make a festival like Unlimited, I endeavour to see as much work as possible created by disabled artists and I also get to know the artists so I can understand their particular point of view, their creative goals and career ambitions.

Finding work is the beginning of the process. When I see a show I analyse my own response but I also ask a series of questions about why I would present a work, who would want to see it and what our marketing and PR team might say to sell it. In the end, the decisions you make are always driven by questions of context, budget and marketing.

Dance received almost a 10% funding rise in the recent national portfolio organisation (NPO) round – why do you think Arts Council England (ACE) upped its investment?

There are so many people and organisations in the UK passionately committed to dance – from the brilliant artists creating the work we see to community programmes like Big Dance that bring people together. Dance plays such an important role in our culture and community, and the NPO funding increase is acknowledgement of that fact.

What’s the key then to making sure that investment stays strong in the long-term?

Creating and touring work requires serious financial commitment so the idea of organisations pooling resources is a smart one. The important thing is that the work is seen and that opportunities and audiences continue to grow. Wouldn’t it be great if the corporate world could see the immense value in this and begin to support dance the way it supports sport?

How far do you think disability arts have come since the London 2012 Paralympics?

The Unlimited programme and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympics proved, as Lyn Gardner recently acknowledged on her blog, that disability arts are an integral part of the arts ecology and society itself. ACE, Creative Scotland and the Spirit of 2012 Trust have acknowledged this by committing ongoing funding to enable the Unlimited programme to continue to commission, develop and show ambitious and high-quality work both nationally and internationally.

The disappointing thing is that as these funding agencies recognise the merit and value of disability arts, many artists with disabilities are finding it difficult to get the support they need to make work because of government cuts to the Access to Work scheme. There is a paradox there that needs to be addressed.

What needs to change?

Without the support of the Access to Work scheme, creating work can be a massive challenge for artists with disabilities. Deaf artists who require sign interpreters for communication or artists who need carers to be with them are simply not able to work without support. We are not talking about benefits; they are essential.

As presenters we must also consider the needs of audience members with disabilities. A huge part of our budget and planning for Unlimited is committed to ensure that as many performances as possible are BSL interpreted, captioned and audio described. These are essential provisions. They are costly but venues must commit to making work accessible to everyone.

What do you make of what’s going on at the moment with the Australian arts and culture sector?

It’s devastating to have a government that does not respect and support the role of the arts. The biggest arts cuts in the recent budget were to the Australia Council for the Arts and Screen Australia.

Take cinema: for a small country, Australia has punched well above its weight and our films speak to a broad international audience. But it’s the leadership that makes a difference. Culture thrived in Australia under Edward Whitlam and later Paul Keating. These were enlightened individuals.

This interview was first published on the Guardian website.

Groove On Down The Road – Meet Jaih!


Critically acclaimed UK dance company ZooNation are just five days into their run of Groove On Down The Roadbut this Wizard Of Oz re-imagining is already taking Southbank Centre by storm! We caught up with some of the young cast to talk music, dance, and what inspired them to groove on down the road…

Jaih Headshot

Name: Jaih Betote Dipito

Age: 15

Character: Scarecrow

Dance style: Hip hop

InspirationSeveral, including MJ, also the ZooNation dance teachers: Jack Mackenzie, Tali. I have also loved watching and meeting Flawless.

Favourite trick/dance move: The Angle. But also making up my own.

How long have you been dancing? Since 2008 when I came to live in the UK. Before then, I did Capoeira in Brasil for 3 years.

How did you first get into dance? I have always loved sport, gymnastics and martial arts. I used to do karate as well as capoeira. Then my dad bought me a MJ video and talked to me about him and his music and I replayed the video until I could moonwalk and do other MJ moves. I also watched Billy Elliot and wanted to dance too so my mum Jaih cutoutfound me a “ballet for boys” class which I did for a few years when we came to live in England. Then I joined a street dance group in Oxford, Messy Jam and spent a fantastic 3 years doing shows and competitions with them.
What achievement are you proudest of? Getting into Zoonation and winning a scholarship to Tring park School for the Performing Arts in Sep 2013.

What’s the most exciting thing about performing at Southbank Centre? Performing everyday and having a real experience of working in the performing arts which is what I am going to do. It is like have a proper professional job.

What’s your favourite part of Groove On Down The Road? I love my solo of course but also “let the groove get in” when we all dance together

If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be? Depressed and bored, stressed and lost. Dance gives meaning to my life. It gives me freedom and makes me believe I can do anything. I have never wanted anything so much as I want to dance for the rest of my life.

Jaih cutout 2

 What advice would you give to an aspiring young dancer? Stick at it. Train hard and take every opportunity that comes your way. Push yourself. Find people who will help you to grow and never give up on a move.

If you could work with any choreographer, living or dead, who would it be and why? I would have loved to work with MJ but I really love the choreographers I am meeting at zoonation and at my dance school. I would love to have more time to do all sorts of new classes to meet even more fabulous dancers/choreographers

Groove On Down The Road runs until 1 September, tickets from £10, kids get half-price tickets.

VIVA PELÔ! Join us as we celebrate the vibrant cultural hub of Pelourinho, Brazil

Capoeira - credit Yemisi Blake

This weekend, Southbank Centre comes alive with the sights and sounds of Brazil. We celebrate the irresistable cultural vitality of the Pelourinho neighbourhood of Salvador in Brazil, with our free weekend of Afro Brazilian dance, music and spoken word by artists from Pelourinho and London.

Banda Dida - credit Yemisi Blake

See the first ever UK performance by members of Banda Didá, a drumming group for girls and women that teaches music and dance skills as well as focussing on the emotional and social development of its members. Rehearsing regularly in the streets of Pelourinho, the familiar sound of Banda Didá is the heart beat of the city. They say:

“Didá is a group of women that look for their growth through music [and are] given the opportunity to become educated of their origin, to build self-esteem, and widen their perspectives for a better future. Didá was the first women’s group/band to play samba-reggae in the world. The idea was birthed from Neguinho do Samba and today Didá is respected by great musicians from around the world.”


Pelourinho Weekend marks the culmination of Southbank Centre’s Festival Academy training programme in Pelourinho, which earlier this year worked with 30 local young people to help them plan the dazzling ‘Southbank Centre @ Pelourinho Festival’ in Brazil on 15 June. Now some of the young people who were involved in producing this festival, working with local and UK artists, are coming over this weekend for more!

So this weekend, join us and check out astounding feats of Capoeira, exuberant Afro-Brazilian dance and unique rap and hip hop. Plus artist Yemisi Blake works with young people from London and Pelourinho to create a performance that features photographs and spoken word, to communicate how people feel about their communities. And we screen Ebony Goddess, a short film following three women’s journey to compete to be carnival queen.

Check out all the events across the weekend here.

Southbank Centre at Pelourinho Festival and Festival Academy is a Southbank Centre initiative created and delivered with Neojiba and British Council, and supported by the Embassy of Brazil in London. The Festival in June 2013 was presented with additional support from ACE.

Opening tonight: international sell-out show Timber!

Cirque Alfonse are here and ready to conquer London!

The UK premiere of their log-balancing, axe-juggling lumberjack circus show Timber! is tonight.

Youngest member Arthur is clearly very excited…

Blending circus with theatre, dance, live traditional music and the folklore of their native Quebec, Cirque Alfonse take the audience on a wild ride of gravity-defying acrobatics and thrilling tricks with metal saws, axes and logs from the family farm.

Be one of the first to see the show that has blown audiences away across the globe: click here to book or watch the trailer.


Timber! Meet the family…


Alain in Timber!

Born   7 October 1946
Age     66
Position in Cirque Alfonse
Inspiration for the circus
Position in the family

Father of Antoine and Julie, and Grandfather to Arthur 

Circus History
Alain has no circus training at all.  He always wanted to perform, but never got the chance.  For his 60th birthday his son and daughter, Antoine and Julie, decided to put together a circus which he could be a part of.  And that is how Cirque Alfonse came about.  He was born in Switzerland and loved to travel, ski and play football.  He now appears in Timber! and has helped to design and build the set.                        

Circus Skills
Alain is a clown or a comedian in the circus.  He does some acrobatics and he brings an element of whimsy to the performance.

Fun Facts:
•  Alain’s favourite food is French Fondue – yummmmm….
•  If he wasn’t in the circus he would want to be a tapestry maker.
•  He can jump as high as his beard is long – about 4 inches!
•  The most dangerous part of his performance in Timber! is when he has to play in the becausse, a toilet they use in the show.
•  His biggest fear is the sky falling on his head!

To find out more about Timber! visit our website >>

Timber! Meet the family…



Born   24 August 1981
Age     32
Position in Cirque Alfonse
Position in the family
Son of Alain and brother of Julie

Circus History
Antoine started training for circus performance when he was young, learning his skills at a circus school in Montreal.  In 2000 he received his diploma from the École nationale de cirque de Montréal (Montreal National Circus School).  Over the past 11 years Antoine has collaborated on numerous shows and artistic projects including Cirque Éloize’s Nomade and Cirque Orchestra, Cirkus Cirkör’s show 99% Unknown, the Cirque du Soleil’s Celebrity Cruise Project, Maskarade by the Copenhagen Royal Opera and Traces by the troupe Les 7 doigts de la main (The Seven Fingers).

Circus Skills
Antoine is an acrobat, a multidisciplinary artist and a virtuoso.  He excels on the German wheel, the Cyr wheel and the Ladder, but he is just generally a superb acrobat.  In Timber! you can see him do thrilling manoeuvres with logs, wooden cart wheels and metal lumberjack saws.

Fun Facts:
•   Antoine’s beard is almost 20cms long!

•   He’s favourite food is Poutine, which is fries, with brown sauce and cheese that make a ‘squish-squish’ sound when you chew it.
•   His favourite circus trick is called the ‘Full full full’ on the teeterboard, which is 3 summersaults with 3 twists.  It is also the most dangerous trick he does!
•   He can lift a fully-grown man above head – check out the photos below to see him in action!

Find out more about Timber! here>>