Press Story

29 Apr 2024

Stomping Ground, a commissioning group of leading UK arts organisations FABRIC (Dance4 and DanceXchange together), FESTIVAL.ORG, The Place, Strike A Light and Tramway, together with presentation partner Sismograf Festival in Olot, Catalonia, is pleased to announce the Stomping Ground commission for 2024.

As the 2024 recipient, Richard Chappell Dance have been commissioned to transform their 2021 climate activism film Heart Land, commissioned by BBC Arts and One Dance UK, into an interdisciplinary outdoor dance performance called Land Empathy.

The Stomping Ground commission is an opportunity for UK-based artists to embark on the creation of new outdoor dance work that captures the attention and imaginations of audiences in urban, rural, festival or high street spaces. Previous Stomping Ground recipients include Robby Graham, Requardt & Rosenberg, Joseph Toonga, Pagrav Dance, AndroidX + MHz and Walker Movement Theatre.

The panel, which included Emma-Jane Benning and Zariq Rosita-Hanif (Strike A Light), Jessica Walker (previous commissioned artist), Eddie Nixon and Emilie Labourey (The Place), Bradley Hemmings MBE (FESTIVAL.ORG), Hannah Sharpe (FABRIC), Jill Smith (Tramway) and Tena Busquets Costa (Sismograf) received 65 applications, and interviewed 6 artists, before awarding Richard the commission.

The 2024 commission will see Richard Chappell Dance build on its 2021 climate activism film Heart Land, commissioned by BBC Arts and One Dance UK, to turn it into an original outdoor dance piece called Land Empathy. Exploring how we can deepen our spiritual connection to natural environments against the backdrop of the climate crisis, Land Empathy will be an interdisciplinary work with original sculptures by visual artist Anna Gillespie, a pulsating score by electronic music duo Larch, and four dancers from Richard Chappell Dance's renowned ensemble. The work will be created in collaboration with research by the Global Systems Institute (Exeter University), Living Wales (Aberystwyth University) and environmental activist Marla King. Climate and social science data will inform Land Empathy's creative process and contribute towards community participatory programmes that explore climate education and interdisciplinary art. Land Empathy’sLondon premiere will be announced soon.

Commenting on the news, Christina Elliot, Head of Programming & Producing at The Place says: “This year, for the first time, we invited applications which consciously considered sustainability in their ideas and making processes. We were inspired by our new partner, Sismograf Festival in Catalonia, which has a clear curatorial focus on how we care for each other and our world. Richard’s project clearly spoke to this new focus through its research, design and creation, and we are excited to work with Richard to share Land Empathy with audiences across the UK and beyond. Thank you to all applicants to Stomping Ground 2024. It was a privilege to read about and watch so many exceptional ideas, which speak to the vibrancy of dance in the outdoors.”

Richard Chappell, Artistic Director of Richard Chappell Dance adds: The climate crisis is a pressing challenge for us all and culture plays a crucial role in growing climate consciousness. Land Empathy will question how outdoor performances can cultivate spiritual connectivity to our natural world. I am honoured to have been chosen for this year’s Stomping Ground Commission and thrilled to be able to build on our previous outdoor creations, sharing this important, passionate work with audiences at GDIF and across my home county of Devon.”

The Stomping Ground group has been commissioning original outdoor work since 2018. This year’s commission will see Richard Chappell Dance supported on their journey from development, right through to production. Alongside the £22.5k commission, the partners can also offer R&D space, marketing guidance, some producing support, and other guidance.