Genny Steccone, Laban archive volunteer, has spent the past three months uploading VHS and DVD recordings of performances by Transitions Dance Company, Trinity Laban’s in-house dance company, on to the video-streaming site available in the Laban library. Here she describes what she has been doing:
I have been involved in a project focused on the digitisation of all the performances of Transitions Dance Company. The Company was founded in 1982 by Bonnie Bird (1914-1995) who was Artistic Director until her death. The principal aim of the Company was, and continues to be, bringing together well known choreographers with skilled young dancers and bridging the gap between training and the profession of being a dancer.
The first part of my commitment was recording all the performances, avoiding any possible future damage to the format, considering that most of them are on VHS and the more recent ones on DVD. Planet eStream is the software which we worked with. It is fast and easy to use, and indeed after recording the content, the results are immediately available on the Trinity Laban website to students and staff who log in on-site. We have one video for each year from 1983 to 2007. Every video consists of about five or six choreographic works recorded during a performance. The programme of the show includes information about the choreographers, dancers, music, costume designers, lighting designers for every choreographic work and the order of appearance of the works for each performance. However the order on the programme has not always been the same as that on the recording. Therefore the first issue has been to recognize each choreographic work, and verify and find the right order. There are different ways to approach this. The musical score has often been the more intuitive resource, so I have just searched for the tune or the artist mentioned in the programme. However sometimes there is no score or it is not recognisable.
Another useful way to gather information has been through the comparison of the recording with the folders of photographs of Transitions Dance Company, held in the archive. The folders contain pictures of different entities: portraits of dancers, snap-shots from workshops, from journeys in foreign countries, and from the performances themselves, so in some cases I was able to identify the performance from the costumes or choreography. Occasionally we have been able to insert audio or video interviews with the choreographer about the creation of their work. It is an inspirational chance to gain an insight into individual artistic patterns for students and for researchers.
The purposes of this project are to make these resources available, accessible and as user-friendly as possible, to encourage other companies to deposit records about their artistic work at the Laban Archive, and to allow the choreographers and the dancers themselves to review their work.
If you would like to see what Genny has been doing, log on to the video-streaming site available at http://video.trinitylaban.ac.uk and search for Transitions. Access to view Transitions performances is only available in the Laban Library and Archive but some of the interviews with guest choreographers can be viewed online by everyone – just click on the Log-in as guest link. If you spot any information that needs correcting or can identify any works which we haven’t been able to, then do get in touch – we would be glad to hear from you!
Photograph of Genny Steccone adding Transitions Dance Company performance recordings to the video-streaming site in the Laban Library and Archive, Creekside, London