Tag Archives: Writing Copy

Dance Consortium’s Q & A with Nederlands Dans Theater

Working with Dance Consortium, a group of 17 large theatres located across the UK, HdK has the lovely job of sharing behind-the-scenes content from the international dance tours that Dance Consortium bring to the UK each year.

Since 12 April 2016, the world-class Nederlands Dans Theater 2 has been touring venues across the UK; we have been catching the dancers where we can, and sharing live content from the tour on the Dance Consortium blog and social media feeds.

Now with just one venue left of the 2016 UK Tour, we thought we’d share the post-performance Q and A from the Theatre Royal in Plymouth to give you a taste of the company before it heads back to The Hague, Netherlands. The two NDT2 dancers in the Q and A were Rachel McNamee [21] and Benjamin Behrends [23]. For the dancers’ biogs head to the tour microsite. The dances in the night’s repertoire were: I New Then (choreography: Johan Inger), mutual comfort (choreography: Edward Clug), Solo (choreography: Hans van Manen) and Cacti (choreography: Alexander Ekman).

Audience member: How much input do the dances have in the choreographic process?

Rachel: It really depends on each piece and each choreographer and what they want. Every choreographer is very different in every process. Sometimes the choreographer comes in with a very set idea of what they want and they have movement and they just give it to is, or sometimes they come in and ask us to give to them, or they see what’s in front of them and create with us… so it really depends on the situation.

Benjamin: Adding on to that, we also do a bit of improvisation in some of the pieces. In the last piece, Cacti, some of the spoken word is ad-libbed and also some of the dancing as well. All the nude work before the couples’ dance is all improvised, so it all depends on what the choreographer wants.

Audience member: Which piece did you enjoy dancing most?

Rachel: It’s hard to have a favourite because I enjoy all of them. I think it also depends on the night. A piece is always a magical experience but I think for me, all the pieces I danced tonight, for example I New Then – the music is amazing and it always puts you in such a special place and it has such a heart-warming feeling for me at least as a dancer. I feel like I give a lot to it.

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

I New Then, NDT2 2016. Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But also in Cacti, it’s nice to have a big group and it’s very fun and exciting. It’s nice to have such a range of repertoire because you get to experience different parts of yourself within each piece.

Benjamin: Also for me, each ballet has its own jams that you get to discover while you’re dancing. For me, I really enjoy the technical aspects of Solo, when you finish it you just feel really good if you’ve had a technically clean one. And then I New Then is very special, it’s very easy to get into the role and have this sunshine-y feeling, and then Cacti is the big horah!

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

 

 

Audience member: Do any injuries occur whilst handling other people’s bodies?

Benjamin: Yes (laughs) I think actually for me personally, all my injuries have happened completely on my own – no one was handling me! But yes as a profession of course we’re very careful and we train very hard every day. Fatigue also comes along with that. We always try and keep our bodies ready and fit to prevent injuries but of course things happen.

Audience member: How much do you train each day?

Rachel: We have ballet class every morning at 9.30am and then we rehearse for the rest of the day until 5.30pm and that’s usually 5 or 6 days a week, but we also do a lot of shows and touring, so sometimes we might have performances and things, but 9.30am – 5.30pm is the regular.

Audience member: How long does a show like that take to put together?

Benjamin: It’s about the programme and depends on how many dancers know it from previous seasons. I would say it takes us roughly two months to prepare for a dance like Cacti because it’s a huge piece. But when you’re creating with one of the choreographers it can take anywhere between two weeks to one month and sometimes they come back. But usually two weeks for set pieces. We have a great artistic team coaching us so sometimes it can go a bit faster.

Rachel: We also don’t work on one thing at a time. We have our programmes in Holland that are often new pieces and new creations and then half way through that run we go on tour with a completely different programme, so you’re working on about 8 pieces at any one time for various different shows, so it’ s hard to tell how long each piece takes but it’s quite busy!

Audience member: There’s a lot of rhythm and combination. You’re all doing the same thing at different moments! And you did it [Cacti] to perfection I must say!

Benjamin: (laughs) We practise a lot! And something with Cacti – it’s also a piece that gets brought back a lot so that’s one that the dancers might know from previous seasons but also we listen to the music in great detail. We have different groups: first row boys, back row boys, first row girls, back row girls, so it’s like now you do this, now you do this… (laughs) At the beginning it can be quite a challenge.

Audience member: How do you memorise the moves? How do they stay with you and do you listen to the music and immediately know what the movements are? How do you remember?

Rachel: It’s a skill that you develop because we’ve both been dancing for many years so for me now it seems normal to pick up movement and to learn it within my body. You feel yourself getting stronger at it. You don’t magically pick it up, you learn it and you think about it but there becomes a point where it gets into your body. That’s when you can play with it or feel it rather than just think it.

Benjamin: Also what we call muscle memory, it can be almost like a twitch, you know you have to do this on the music. Of course you can still put the same thoughts or emotions behind it but it might not be so in-your-brain about it. Like Rachel said, since a young age we have to memorise so much just in class, we’re constantly memorising what the teacher’s saying. It’s a tool you develop throughout your career. But also I find you can go into a room and completely forget why you’re there, so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for other stuff! (laughs)

Audience member: Do you use yoga in your training?

Benjamin: Lots of dancers do yoga on their own, it’s not required for us to do it, but some do it for cross-training. A lot of the positions we make on the boxes in Cacti are also improvised. They have a set structure, a geometric pose, and then you hold it, but actually the postures are based on the dancer’s interpretation of the pose and the music.

NDT2, , WOKING, UK, 2016, CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

Audience member: When did you start training?

Rachel: I started when I was three – a long time ago!

Benjamin: I started a bit later when I was thirteen.

Audience member: Do you require classical ballet training?

Rachel: I think it depends on the company and the work you’re doing and the dancer. We’re both trained in ballet and we start each day with a ballet class, but all of us come from many different countries and backgrounds and training and so we bring those differences into the repertoire we’re doing. It’s important to have some classical training but to be able to use that and go beyond it.

Audience member: Is it all about interpretation or is there a narrative or storyline?

Rachel: It depends on the piece. There’s definitely an intention behind every piece. mutual comfort is about the relationships between the dancers on stage. There’s a sensuality. There might not be a full story or narrative but it’s opened up for the audience to feel something and interpret it in their own way, or maybe they see their own story in it.

Audience member: Assuming you don’t have an injury, how long can you keep going? What happens when your body says ‘that’s enough’ – what do you do then?

Rachel: I think that depends on the dancer and what they want. And also the type of dance and the way you dance changes as you get older. There are dancers in NDT1 who have had families who still dance beautifully. Sometimes dancers choose to stop early, not because of their body, but because they want to do something else, or many go into choreography or teaching, or some go into something completely different. Right now I hope to be dancing for much longer so I can’t really say personally what I’ll be doing.

Audience member: How important is the applause? Is the dancing the rewarding part or do you like to get that response from the audience?

Benjamin: We always love a response from the audience and you guys were amazing thank you (laughs) but of course we do it for the dance, it’s a way of expressing ourselves on stage. It’s good to feel a vibe coming back and it’s a great feeling on stage to have an audience with a great energy.

Audience: You don’t ever feel, ‘I’m tired and I want to go home now’?

Rachel: (laughs) No. It’s funny because when you’re on stage you can actually feel an audience’s energy and even if they’re not saying anything or laughing or making any noise, you can feel it. Audiences can be really different and it actually really helps me understand the piece when I can feel the audience reacting. It gives me energy or it helps us to share something. We dance to share, and it’s an honour to share it.

Benjamin: It’s also nice to have a piece like Cacti where it’s almost interactive with the audience, we hear you laugh and it’s really nice to feel like we’re playing with you and you’re playing back. It’s a nice feeling!

To see the microsite for NDT2’s 2016 UK Tour or book tickets for the show at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, click here.

For contemporary dance fans, follow Dance Consortium on Twitter for news of their future tours.

sarah@dekretser.com

Writing copy for your website? We’ve got a blog for that…

On today’s blog we’re discussing the best ways to write copy for your website. We’ve come up with some top tips to keep your audience engaged and ensure they’re taking note of what you have to say (Without telling them they’ll win £1,000,000 if they read to the end of the page…. Might work though?!)

So, how do you write copy for people that don’t want to read copy? That’s essentially what you’re doing when creating written content for web. The aim of the game is to keep those short attention spans entertained and get your reader to engage with you online. But how?

Check out HdK’s top tips:

• Make sure you keep copy short and to the point. Online users scan read for the information they are looking for. Help them the best way you can.

• Put your most important information at the top of the copy. This way the reader finds the information quicker, won’t get bored and go looking for it elsewhere.

• Keep paragraphs short. Again, your readers want to access the information they need as easily as possible. This leads us on to the next point…

• Bullet points can help people scan read. People love to be helped.

• Use descriptive hyperlinks within your text. For example, telling you to ‘Click Here to read my other blog on copy writing’ may not do the trick. But letting the reader know ‘I have more top tips for writing entertaining copy’ might intrigue the reader more.

• Use keywords to help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but don’t overdo it! Help Google to put your website/page/blog higher in their search results. What would your target audience search for on Google? Ensure those keywords sit in your copy.

• Add tags to webpages and blogs where appropriate, these also help with Google Searches.

• Break up copy with imagery or an embedded video.

slamdot-copywriting-screen

• Check, check and check again for spelling and grammar.

• Caption images with full credits, because it’s nice (and good practice AND it helps with SEO).

• Use subheadings to divide content. It allows the reader to find what they are looking for and quickly!

• One topic per paragraph. It again helps with the scan readers out there and keeps your copy to the point.

• Include internal links to help users navigate around your website, plus it keeps them on your site for longer, bonus!

• Use ‘You’ rather than ‘I’ where appropriate. Think like a radio presenter. They’re trained to talk as though to one person, it’s a good idea for you to do the same. It makes the reader feel special. Do you feel special?

• Be clear, specific and bold in your writing!

• Would someone who has no idea about the copy topic understand it? If not, simplify what you’re saying. Simples.

• Always keep your content fresh. Check regularly that your copy is in date, including up to date contact information, news and events.

And there we have it. Our top tips on writing copy for your website. Hopefully you’ll find it useful! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @HdK_assoc, for more blogs on all things digital and the arts.

Sophie learns to write brilliant copy… Can you tell?

HdK’s Sophie pretty much reckons she is the Queen of conversation, so we thought it would be a good idea to get her down to Shoreditch House to hear Eddy Lawrence deliver a talk on ‘How to write brilliant copy’. Well, why not try and be a least a Princess on paper too?

Here is what she learnt:

Firstly, just to say, I did a quick Google search on Eddy following our copy writing session, just to prove to you guys he wasn’t any Tom, Dick or ‘Eddy’ from the streets of Shoreditch, and found this profile on him from the Guardian. “Eddy Lawrence is a copywriter with over 20 years of writing and editing experience. He has written for and edited publications including The Face, Select, Melody Maker and Jack, and even some which are still going, such as Q, NME, Shortlist and the Guardian. Eddy has also worked on the Glastonbury festival daily paper, and taught journalism as part of the Time Out Trashed outreach project during his six years as Music Editor for Time Out.” So I’m going to presume that Eddy knows what he’s talking (and writing) about.

Eddy opens his speech on Brilliant Copy Writing by claiming it’s about ‘learning to cheat at English’. As my cheating tactics usually reach about as far as demanding to be the Banker and hiding the money under the Monopoly board, I was intrigued to discover how to progress my scheming abilities.

As I’m a nice person I’m going to share with you each of Eddy’s top tips; hopefully I’ve managed to include some of them when writing this blog. Do you agree? Tweet us at @hdk_assoc.

  1. Stalk your readers

Not literally, but online. What are their needs and wants? Make sure you know where they hang out online, is it on social media networks or maybe forums? What else are they reading and talking about? How can you find a way to entertain and inform them? These are all questions you need to consider when writing copy geared towards a particular group of people. You will need to have critical authority within your writing so make sure you’re well aware of what your readers like to read and talk about, and know your stuff!

  1. Approach readers with confidence

Know what you’re talking about! Ensure you examine your subject from many angles. What difference will your writing make to your reader? The readers of your content will know if you’re not confident in your knowledge, and remember, you need to have that critical authority!

  1. Start a conversation

This is your opportunity to be the most important person in the room. Or in other words, don’t let your reader get a word in edgeways! Use your first line to grab the attention of your reader, and tell a story to keep them engaged. Story telling allows the reader to use their imagination, connecting emotion to your words. Therefore if you need them to take an action, such as buying your product or sharing your content, they will be more inclined to.

  1. Be their new best friend

Give them ‘conversation ammo’. Make your reader appear clever, funny and well informed. Think of yourself as giving ‘informational free gifts’ and your reader will reward you by sharing your content amongst their friends.

  1. Make them an offer

Offer the reader a reward for continuing to read your work. This starts with the headline. Feed in information so your reader knows what they’ll get, but don’t give too much away. Think about how you would tell your story in just one journey in a lift, that’s your brief summary. Then make sure your copy is ‘on rails’, that it’s going somewhere and finally, end with fireworks.

  1. Build suspense

Drip feed points to hold the attention of your reader for as long as you can. This way you’re high jacking the readers’ attention and their imagination and then (*BAM*) hypnotise them into agreeing with you.

  1. Good references are important

Anyone with a degree will hear the word ‘referencing’ and shudder inside. However, your credibility soars with a reliable source. Referencing allows your business to business content to be more credible, whereas dialogue from films or books can create an illusion of intimacy between you and your reader (I’ll always read anything with a Harry Potter reference!) Tapping into the imagination of your reader using specific and nostalgic references lets their imagination do the work for you.

  1. Write like Mohammed Ali, alliteration, rhyme and rhythm

Alliteration, rhyme and rhythm allow you to emphasise specific points. You can use them to aid the punchline to your piece. A variety in the length of sentences also helps to mix up your writing. Too many long sentences? Boring. Too many short sentences can be frustrating. Use the long sentences for descriptive, lyrical content. The short sentences? They back up your points with facts.

  1. Stay active

Use verbs! Give your readers’ brains a work out. Being able to imagine what their reading about will make the experience more fun, engaging and memorable. Therefore, keep your language active and trim down adjectives. Use as little words as you can.

Enjoy yourself

Find the element of copy writing that you enjoy. Is it the stalking, participating in the conversations that your articles spark, or finding a way of making your content shareable? Whatever it is, focus on that when approaching writing a new piece.

Plus we have a few more handy pointers:

Never use a word in print that you would never use in conversation. Discover a new word? Start using it in everyday life. Does it work for you? If yes, great, pop it into print, if not, put the thesaurus back down.

Talk to someone you like about your topic. Record the conversation. Look at how you structure your explanation, how you tell the story and get your points across. Now use those techniques in your writing.

What are your top pointers for writing brilliant copy? Let us know at @hdk_assoc.