Liverpool Improvisation Collective

LIC STUDIO is an artist-led and designated dance space providing a vital context and resource for artists to research and share their work. Liverpool Improvisation Collective (LIC) are Andrea Buckley, Jo Blowers, Mary Prestidge and Paula Hampson.

Their joint presence in the city over the past 20 years has created many opportunities to evolve their work both individually and collectively. For ten years they ran Liverpool International Festival of Dance and Improvisation (LIFDI) in conjunction with Space to Move, a research and training intensive for dancers. This project attracted artists working regionally, nationally and internationally.

They have had a shared Studio in Bluecoat since 2008 that has been used for research, rehearsal, workshop and performance purposes.

From left to right: Mary Prestidge, Paula Hampson, Andrea Buckley. Photo by Sophie Traynor

About the artists

Mary Prestidge

Originally an Olympic gymnast in the 1960’s, Mary’s first professional work was with the English dance company, Ballet Rambert as a contemporary dancer. In the mid 70’s she co-founded the radical X6 Dance Space in Butler’s Wharf, London and was a member of its artist collective, and its successor Chisenhale Dance Space, until 1989. Both organisations provided an important context for the research and development of new dance forms and practices in Britain during the 70’s and 80’s.

Mary has been an influential practitioner and teacher of new and experimental dance in both the independent dance scene as well as the specialist academy. Mary moved to Liverpool in 1995 to take up a teaching position and to develop a dance programme at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. She retired from LIPA in 2008. Her independent work during that period and beyond was mostly in collaboration with Liverpool artists Paula Hampson, Andrea Buckley and Jo Blowers. Together organising the annual Liverpool International Festival of Dance Improvisation (LIFDI: 1999-2006) and other training and performing contexts. As the Liverpool Improvisation Collective (LIC) they also toured as a performance ensemble. Mary with LIC took the opportunity in 2009 to be a part of the creative community in the newly reopened Bluecoat and founded the LIC Studio there.

Mary continues to evolve new work through dance and interdisciplinary art form in collaboration with LIC artists and others in a variety of performing contexts. As part of LIC’s 3 year partnership with Bluecoat (Inhabit) Mary worked closely with members of Blue Room, (Bluecoat’s Inclusive Arts Programme) developing new dance and performing opportunities. She is looking forward to rekindling this relationship, as well as with others, in this precarious time.

Andrea Buckley

As an independent dance performer, maker, teacher and Certified Rolfer my work is informed by 30 years of practice. Through various initiatives and performing nationally and internationally, I have worked with Sue MacLennan, Rosie Lee, Kirstie Simson, Nancy Stark Smith, Lisa Nelson, Gill Clarke, Deborah Hay and Siobhan Davies Dance.

As a solo artist I was commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance, Les Laboratoires d’Auberville and Merseyside Dance Initiative. More recent work has been a commission by Hampshire County Council; choreographing for Wessex Dance Academy and collaborating on a research project with Annie Cattrell (fine artist) and Marius Kwint (Curator) with the University of Portsmouth School of Arts and Design. I curated a programme of workshops as part of the Independent Dance programme in London and as a founder member of Ch4pter and Liverpool Improvisation Collective I have co-initiated performances and festivals in Liverpool.

I have also worked extensively as an independent teacher in various creative and community settings as well as currently being a guest lecturer at Chester University.

My choreographic work has drawn on an extensive range of investigative movement practices where process and reflections are grounded in observation, perception, culture and imagination, with an emphasis on the sensing, thinking and moving body as a form of expression and body of material.

A recent short film collaboration with Daniel Williams - Pause and Reflect, draws me closer to explore movement, imagery and creating environments making it relevant for public interaction.

Paula Hampson

Paula has been working as a dance performer, maker, and teacher for over 30 years. Following her training at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, London (1986-1989) she has evolved her work through exploring experiential approaches in movement, composition, and visual arts, gaining a first-class degree in Fine Arts (2008).

She has performed for Maclennan Dance & Company, Julyen Hamilton, Gaby Agis, Small Bones Dance Company, Yolande Snaith Theatre Dance, and Rosemary Lee. She has attended training courses in Europe and USA with Ruth Zapora, Joan Skinner, Julyen Hamilton, Nancy Stark-Smith, and K.J Holmes.

Paula has received a Bonnie Bird Choreographic Award and was a recipient of a Wingate Scholarship in which she initiated Space to Move, a dance course for local & regional practitioners that ran for 13 years. Led by international guest artists highly respected in the field of dance Improvisation.

She worked in collaboration with Small Things Dance collective 'From Where You Are’, a film created with their young children in response to the natural environment of the Welsh coast. This site-sensitive and child centred approach was later presented at various conference platforms.

Paula was part of a UK team who contributed to a European initiative, SPARKS (Somatic Practices, Art, and Creativity in the field of Care), to share best practice in inclusive approaches to working with children and adults in care. The exchange took place in France, Italy, Slovakia, UK, and Hungary.

In 2017 she graduated as a Somatic Movement Educator (SME) with Embody-Move, the UK's Body-Mind Centering® Program pioneered by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, and is currently completing the Infant Develepmental Movement Education certification (IDME).

In 2017 she created Wonder a solo performance combining film, sound and music, developed in partnership with her 7 year old son. In response to this she presented Ways Of Knowing, a symposium to share different perspectives on how children can develop and learn through movement to become creative thinking beings.

From March 2018-2019 Paula worked with The Kinship Charity in Liverpool to develop an inter-generational performance with the members and their cared for children. In the Palm of My Hand was performed at the Bluecoat. A documentary film was created with First Take Productions to raise awareness of the role of a kin carer.

Paula facilitates workshops and collaborative projects in a wide range of settings with people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. She works creatively in both movement and the visual arts, sharing and disseminating her passion and experience of dance to support others in broadening their creative potential, body knowledge and well being. Improvisation and Somatic movement practices continue to inspire and underpin her creative work.

She is currently engaged in Bluecoat Echoes and Origins Heritage project, a creative community program for young people with care experience. Together they will explore the historic origins of the Blue Coat Charitable school, reimagining the lost stories and voices of the children who once attended. Their work will conclude in a public event in August 2022.

Paula continues to work in association with Andrea Buckley, Jo Blowers and Mary Prestidge, co-creators of the Liverpool Improvisation Collective. A long-standing partnership who continues to interrogate their dance practice and develop resources and frameworks to support their work collectively and as independent Artists.