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Inside the Studio : Week One Layers of Skin

After the exciting build up to the beginning of rehearsals for Retina Dance Company’s Layers of Skin, I arrived in Antwerp on Sunday evening. Welcomed by Filip and Natalie, Retina’s Artistic Director and Producer, I had a great evening meeting the other dancers and could not wait to start the next morning. Not long after I was in Jan Fabre’s studio surrounded by 6 other dancers whose energy and unique creativity was an inspiration. From the word go we were learning complex, dynamic and quirky movement material inspired by the concept of how the body would move if only consisting of the skeleton i.e. no organs, muscles, tissue or skin. The level of physicality in Filip’s movement is exhilarating and fulfilling to do.

Each day brings something completely new. The movement is constantly changing and evolving… and its only week 1. When creating, Filip often teaches his own material which is uniquely his movement vocabulary. But during duets and trios a more collaborative approach is used. As well as this, this week we were given a range of creative tasks. We improvised on ideas within the concept of Layers of Skin to create our own material. Specifically, a solo task for which we used the image of our organs escaping through tears in our skin. The atmosphere in the studio is relaxed but productive. We’ve created so much already and I am excited to see where the process will take us in the next 11 weeks.

Written by David Michel, Retina Dance Company

Layers of Skin week 1 from Retina Dance Company on Vimeo.

Introducing our new Layers of Skin company

Retina Dance Company begin rehearsals for our new full length production Layers of Skin on March 21st. We auditioned in Belgium and London and now proudly introduce to you our new company of dancers. With a company of 6 dancers, live music from 7 musicians, and the inclusion of local professional and community dancers, this project is going to be huge! Keep an eye out for opportunities for see them on tour, premiere will be at Cultuurcentrum, Berchem on June 23 to 25.

David Michel

Dave Originally from Winchester, he completed his training at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, gaining a BPA (Hons) degree in 2009. Participating in workshops with Richard Alston and company residencies with Shobana Jeyasingh and Hofesh Shechter. He worked and performed with choreographers Kwesi Johnson and Antonia Grove. On graduating David joined Verve 10, touring works nationally and internationally by choreographers David Zambrano, Michael Schumacher, Laila Diallo amongst others. His extensive teaching experience includes assisting David Zambrano during flying low technique classes in Geneva. David joined Retina Dance Company in 2010 for the autumn tour of Antipode.

Erin Harty

Erinbegan her training with Swindon Dance and then went on to train at the Rambert school in London. Erin has worked with Diversions The National Dance Company Wales, Toni Mira, Regina Wielingen, Moving Visions, United-C and the Darkin Ensemble, as well as performing in her own work which was selected for performances at the Royal Opera House, London. Erin has most recently danced for Ann Van den Broek in Co(te)lette The Film by Mike Figgis, Ioviodio by Gabriella Maiorino and Hi! My name is… by Cecilia Moisio. Erin will join Retina Dance Company for the Layers of Skin tour in 2011 & 2012.

Matthew Slater

Matt completed training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) in 2005. He completed a UK tour with Verve, and went on to complete a postgraduate diploma with London Contemporary Dance Company, and international tour with EDge Dance Company. Matt joined Retina Dance Company for their graduate project Page1 and has since toured internationally with the company in 4 further productions. Matt has also danced with Yael Flexer's Bedlam Dance Company. He has taught freelance for Ascendance Rep, Artists in Schools, Dance 4, and Artesis. In September 2010 joined the Education and Community Department at NSCD. Matt also runs his own theatre school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Pauline De Laet

Pauline Belgium born she graduated from Kunsthumaniora, Antwerp in Contemporary Dance 2007. Performing choreography by Amos Ben-Tal, Sandra Dehertogh, Juri Korec, Andrej Petrovi and Nicoletta Branchini. She won 2nd prize at the dance and publics-prize at the 11th International Solo-Tanz-Theatre Festival in Stuttgart, touring Germany and the Netherlands with the winners. From 2007-11 Pauline attended Rotterdamse Dance Academie, performing work by the likes of Martha Graham, Itzik Galili, Jack Gallagher, and Rita Soeira. She danced with Conny Janssen Danst in RUIS (2009). In 2010 she received a stage contract with Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. Pauline is joining Retina Dance Company for the Layers of Skin Project.

Steven Martin

Steven began training in Scotland in 2003 at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance. During his training he worked with London-based SmallPetitKlein Dance Company. He graduated in June 2007 and then began an apprenticeship with Scottish Dance Theatre through the London Contemporary Dance School. He finished his apprenticeship but stayed as a dancer with the company until September 2008. Steven joined Retina in 2009 for the male quartet Antipode and has since also performed in the duet La Lutte. Steven often teaches for Retina in our education work and will be joining us for his third project with Retina, Layers of Skin.

Kristina Alleyne

Kristene born in London, she started dance at the age of 16 where she attended the BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology (BRITS) 2003-05. She went on to train at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) 2005-08, worked with The Place Prize winner Anna Williams 2009. She toured with postgraduate dance company Verve 09, working with choreographers Fillip van Huffel, Milan Kozanek and Glenn Wilkinson. Kristina joined Tavaziva Dance touring in 3 productions between 2009-11. Kristina performed in the International Dance Festival 2010, with choreographer Arthur Pita. She was involved in research and development with choreographer and dancer Akram Khan. Kristina has taught dance for Chisenhale Dance Space and Dance Physics. Kristina joined Retina in 2011.

New Motion

New Motion is a youth dance company aged between 14-20, based at The Spring art & heritage centre in Havant next to Portsmouth. Ian (RYDC rehearsal director) has been working with New Motion since January to create a curtain raiser for Retina Dance Company’s final stop on their spring tour. Retina will be performing La Lutte for the last time at The Spring on March 10th. Ian is very excited about the ‘very high standard’ of the dancers here. Watch the video of a duet they have worked on, to give you a teasing taster of what it’s to come on March 10th.

New Motion from Retina Dance Company on Vimeo

Fillip (Retina Artistic Director) will also be creating a curtain raiser with Cowplain School in the week running up before the performance at The Spring. To see Retina Dance Company, New Motions and Cowplain School students perform at The Spring on 10th March please book your tickets.

Layers of Skin Placement Opportunity

Retina has 2 placements available for students and young dancers for their next production Layers of Skin .

Layers of Skin is a unique contemporary dance performance project with 6 professional Retina Company dancers and 7 musicians from the Flemish music ensemble Aranis. The production will also have the ability to expand to cater for an additional 6 professional dancers and 12 community dancers from the area where the work is being performed. The premiere of this project will take place during the 30-year celebration of Cultuurcentrum Berchem in Antwerp, Belgium, before touring internationally.

Our layers of skin hide the bones, organs, muscles and nervous system of our body. It also hides who we are and the reality of our contents. The skin is the largest organ of our body and it wraps cerebral, physical and intuition into one package. These ideas will be explored physically, and then will be unfolded in front of an audience. The external appearance will be unwrapped as we discover the inner layers.

Retina work Monday to Friday each week, starting each day with technique class, followed by creative tasks for movement generation or learning taught material from choreographer Filip Van Huffel. For this production Filip will collaborate with dramaturg Daan Goor, composer Joris Vanvinckenroye and lighting designer Andy Hammond. Rehearsals will take place in Antwerp, Belgium.

This opportunity is being offered as Retina has received so many requests for placement opportunities from across Europe. Although the placement will not directly result in a job, a placement with the company enables you to understand the movement vocabulary in depth in order that you are better placed for future job opportunities. If not working for Retina, then we hope that it will enable a young dancer to gain professional experience in order to put them in a better position to gain a job as a dancer in the future.


  • Dancers are physically fit and capable for a professional rehearsal process
  • Dancers wish to undertake a daily technique class and creative process in Filip Van Huffel’s style
  • Dancers will be responsible for filming footage of the process where required
  • Dancers must be available for the whole rehearsal process: March 21st to April 8th and April 26th to June 25th 2011
  • Dancers are wholly responsible for their own expenses, and will not receive any payment.


  • Dancers must submit a completed application form that is attached here, can be downloaded from Retina’s website or requested via email
  • Dancers must submit a film of themselves dancing a 1-minute movement phrase. This material should be able to demonstrate your technical skills, include full-bodied movement and continuous flow. You may want to refer to Retina’s movement style from films on the video page of the website. This film should be uploaded via vimeo, or send a a quicktime film via an application such as http://www.wetransfer.com. Email attachments must not exceed 10MB
  • A current CV
  • Application form and film link must be emailed to Natalie Gordon: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by Friday 4th March 2011

Download the application form (Word, 117kb)

Layers of Skin is a Retina Dance Company production supported by Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council, Cultuurcentrum Berchem, Stad Antwerpen, District Berchem.

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