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Bursary allows Saffy to explore new avenues in Dundee

An independent dance artist and choreographer has been awarded a £3,000 bursary by The Saltire Society and Scottish Dance Theatre.  

Saffy Setohy was presented with the Emerging Choreographer Bursary, to support her in developing a new work – Hidden Architectures – which will premiere at Dance International Glasgow in May 2017. 

Both The Saltire Society and Scottish Dance Theatre celebrated landmark anniversaries in 2016 - The Saltire Society marked its 80th birthday, while Scottish Dance Theatre its 30th.  To mark this milestone, The Saltire Society has launched a programme of support to help young and emergent artists and creative individuals to explore, innovate and create.  

Saffy is a Glasgow-based artist who works across choreography, performance, education, participatory work and movement direction for devised contemporary theatre. 

She said: “It is an honour to have my work recognised by The Saltire Society, and to have the opportunity to work with Scottish Dance Theatre while developing and investigating my choreographic practice. 

“I want to explore how audiences ‘feel’ the work as a result of engagement with resonant objects which conduct sounds and vibrations within their bodies.  My aim is to explore how what I am making responds to and reflects the specific sensory perspectives and experiences of people we invite. 

“Scottish Dance Theatre has a history of engaging with marginalised and disabled audiences, and I see this bursary as an opportunity to explore this further, and engage with individuals that have an existing relationship with the Company.” 

Trained at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, from which she graduated in 2007, Saffy has worked as a performer with choreographers including Henrietta Hale, Matthias Sperling, Angela Praed and Willi Dorner. 

In 2009, Saffy was selected for Dance Beyond Borders, creating Towards Stillness in collaboration with fine artist and sound designer Reynir Hutber.  She performed in a re-staging of Yvonne Rainers' seminal work Trio A at the Hayward Gallery, part of the Move: Choreographing You exhibition, and was an ‘emerging artist in residence’ at the Southbank Centre from 2010 until 2012.  She has since made a range of collaborative installation, site-based and stage works for rural and urban contexts, commissioned and presented by partners in the UK and internationally. 

Between 2015 and 2016, she was one of the artists selected to participate in the dance artist-curator mentorship programme supported by Siobhan Davies Dance. She is also an InSitu artist supported by UZ Arts.  

Saffy, who enjoys teaching and facilitating in a range of education and community contexts, is also a visiting university lecturer.  

Hidden Architectures is a new, site adaptive live dance and sound installation, which explores the body as a living instrument. Through movement and sound, the work expresses a multitude of ideas about humanity. 

An immersive installation performance made for mid to large scale venues and unusual dark sites/spaces, Hidden Architectures is co-commissioned by Tramway and Science Gallery London, and will premier in May 2017 at Dance International Glasgow. 

The piece combines movement/dance, sound installation and visual design. The audience will see performers dip, glide, and carve through space; the sculptural geometry and architecture of the choreography shifting and changing.  A palette of long, low frequency sounds, shorter higher sounds, squeaks, scrapes and twangs are heard. Sounds like snippets of barely heard conversations, a roaring monster, or a whispered moment in an unknown language unfold, each emerging through breath and resonating as performers pluck and bow thread on threads, sculpting and being sculpted in the space. Facial expressions shift, and mouths half-form words which hang unspoken in the air. The threads emanating from the performers mouths appear and disappear in the light. Abstract yet playful and relatable in its transparent exploration of human connectedness, Hidden Architectures will include a sound score composed by Jan Hendrickse, alongside the sounds made by the dancers.

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