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Life in Lockdown: Mark Smith

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#GDLifeinLockdown Part 3

Life in Lockdown is a blog series initiated by Greenwich Dance which features community and professional artists close to the organisation sharing how they are staying creative during these isolating times.

Mark Smith is a freelance Dance Teacher, Workshop Leader, Movement Director & Choreographer. Mark is the Founder and Artistic Director of Deaf Men Dancing. Mark trained at The Royal Ballet School & London Studio Centre.

MONDAY
Every Monday, I like to start a week by reading Charlie Mackesy’s book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. This book gave me strength, encouragement and laughter during the most strange and challenging of times. Wrote a list of tasks to complete this week. (When I finish one of the tasks on the list, I tick it off and move onto the next task. It gives me a good feeling!) Emailing (I check my emails every morning. I spend every morning writing emails.) I like to listen to music while I’m working on my laptop. It motivates me and gives me a good start in the morning! Filling in one of many questionnaires for dance students’ Dissertation Research & School project. As part of exercise, I like to go for a walk for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the afternoon. I like to listen to music while I am walking because it helps me feel calm and I am inspired with new ideas for my choreography project that I want to develop in the future.

In the evening, I like watching films and documentaries. I watched a really interesting documentary on Sky Arts about Mary Shelly - The Strange Life of Dr Frankenstein. It gave me inspiration for my new project I am currently working on.

TUESDAY
In the morning, I had a Zoom Meeting with Deaf Explorer who is a producer for my dance company, Deaf Men Dancing. We discussed exciting ideas and plans for Deaf Men Dancing and my other projects. In the afternoon, I went for a nice long walk with my partner in the field. Fresh air is good for my health and mind. I like to read books in the evening. I am currently reading Bob Avian’s Dancing Man. He was a Broadway & West-End choreographer & director. He choreographed Sunset Boulevard, The Witches of Eastwick & Miss Saigon. He also co-choreographed Follies, Dreamgirls and A Chorus Line with Micheal Bennet. Bob Avian sadly passed away recently. Bob Avian’s story inspired me as a choreographer. In the evening, it was a joy watching Fran Lebowwitz’s Pretend It’s a City on Netflix. (Directed byMartin Scorsese).

WEDNESDAY
In the morning, I had a Zoom interview with the students for their Dissertation Research on a project they are developing at performing art school/college/university. In the afternoon, I created a scrapbook to help me visualise the future and dream what I want to achieve in the future. I remember I created a scrapbook 10 years ago. I used to look at it all the time. Visualisation worked because I gained achievement by choreographing plays, opera & musical productions and my company, Deaf Men Dancing. Because of current situation (COVID-19/Pandemic/Lockdown, it feels right to do it again with a new visualisation of my vision and dream that I want to achieve in the future. The scrapbook gives me hope.

I have regular contact with the dancers from Deaf Men Dancing. I’ve set up a WhatsApp group with them. I send them quotes with positive messages, photographs of Deaf Men Dancing’s past work and dance videos that I found on Youtube, to inspire them and keep their spirits up during challenge times. In the afternoon, I am working on my new website that focuses on my choreography work and as a freelance artist/choreographer. In the evening, I was inspired by the documentary on Sky Arts - Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burrough’s great friendship gave birth to the Beat Generation and literary masterpieces On The Road, Howl and Naked Lunch. The way they write made me want to explore different ways of choreographing that I would like to develop in the future.

THURSDAY
Every Thursday morning, I like to share a picture or a video of shows that I’ve choreographed in the past as part of Throwback Thursday on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It encourages people, especially dance students, to look into and research about the work I’ve done in the past. In the afternoon, group meetings via zoom with deaf artists to discuss about dance in the deaf culture and theatre. In the evening, I like to watch classic films. I watched my childhood hero Charlie Chapin’s film called Kids because the film is celebrating it's 100th Anniversary.

FRIDAY
In the morning, I like to tick off all the boxes of tasks that I’ve created at the beginning of the week. It feels rewarding and gives a sense of satisfaction. Friday is my day of inspiration. I like watching dance videos (all styles of dance in the past and new work) on Youtube, looking at images on Pinterest, Instagram and books and listening to new music that just released. While I am listening to music, I like put my hand on Bose speaker because it helps me feel the vibrations and feel the music beating in my heart. Friday is the day I listen to new music released and I love discovering new music that inspires my choreography work.

In the afternoon, I went for a lovely long walk along the seafront in Brighton. In the evening, I watched Russell T Davis’ It’s a Sin on channel Four... Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Twitter: @marksmith_prod
Insta: @marksmithchoreographer / @deafmendancing

Choreography Credits include: THE COLOR PURPLE (Curve, Leicester & Birmingham Hippodrome); THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Wales Millennium Centre & Tour); MY SILENT
WORLD (Commissioned by Michael Nunn & Billy Trevvit, Artistic Directors of Ballet Boyz, a short film for Ch4 Random Acts); IOLANTHE (Wilton’s Music Hall & UK Tour); THE THREEPENNY OPERA (UK Tour); ORFEO ED EURIDICE (Longborough Festival); LET US TELL YOU A STORY (Deaf Men Dancing commissioned by Exceptional & Extraordinary); TIME (Deaf Man Dancing – Laban Theatre, Greenwich); CORAZON A CORAZON (Deaf Men Dancing commissioned by Without Walls); SHOES (Sadlers Wells); AS YOU LIKE IT (Oxford Shakespeare Company); ALIVE! (Deaf Men Dancing - Outdoor UK Festivals); TEN/EMBRACE (Deaf Men Dancing - Mayor of London's Liberty Festival); DIE FLEDERMAUS (Den Norske Opera & Ballet); NATIONAL ENGLISH BALLET THEATRE (Choreography Lab 2017); BLOOD WEDDING (Dundee Rep Ensemble); 101 DALMATIONS, THE MEETING, A MARVELOUS YEAR FOR PLUMS and THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, NOAH (Chichester Festival Theatre); DUCKIE (Le Gateau Chocolat, Southbank Centre); HEAR! HEAR! (Deaf Men Dancing - Sadler’s Wells); REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (Graeae Theatre’s UK Tour); THE WHO’S TOMMY (Ramps on the Moon UK Tour); PARALYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY (LONDON 2012).