Maarten Zaagman performs at Sweet St Andrews in Brighton (photo: Chloe Hashemi)
Maarten Zaagman performs at Sweet St Andrews in Brighton (photo: Chloe Hashemi)

Maarten Zaagman and I had just been back from Brighton, with five performances of I will carry you over hard times, when we received the news about the next performances: in November 2017 we will perform at the prestigious Dutch November Music festival, as part of the KunstMuziekRoute. We are very happy and excited about taking part in the wonderful festival in Den Bosch! Keep an eye on the site for dates and times, as these will be announced soon.

Back in Brighton, it was not only great to perform the work for several times in the beautiful little church of Sweet St Amdrews. Maarten and I also gave a workshop on our creative process; and it was particularly rewarding (and fun!) to perform on the sunny streets of Brighton.

During the workshop "Experiencing Hard Times".
During the workshop “Experiencing Hard Times”.
Performance on the streets in the centre of the city!
Performance on the streets in the centre of the city!

From 8-12 April 2017, the ICON Creative Directors team and participants worked under the guidance of professional coach Jane Cook on the theme ”coaching and mentoring”. Jane comes from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she is Head of Leadership and Coaching.

The location of the seminar: The main building at Kallio-Kuninkala, about 40 minutes from Helsinki.
The location of the seminar: The main building at Kallio-Kuninkala, about 40 minutes from Helsinki.

The seminar was aimed at anyone in teaching, mentoring and management roles: working with students as a one to one teacher or mentor, or with students in groups, or having line management responsibility for colleagues in one’s home institution. The red thread of the seminar’s activities and session was to work on core mentoring-coaching skills, such as

  • listen for and illuminate meaning
  • ask questions that prompt new learning
  • how to motivate and encourage new and creative thinking

The international group of teachers started the first evening with a series of sessions that involve “sources of inspiration”. Everybody brought 2-3 objects, images or quotes that have a relation or connection to the seminar theme.

A collection of sources.
A collection of sources.

During the seminar days, participants worked on real issues with each other in the different roles of client, coach and observer. The core of the seminar programme was constant feedback practice from “real life”: “We will not role play. We ask you to work on real material with each other. You cannot learn how to be an excellent mentor-coach if you have never understood what it is to be a client.” (ICON programme booklet)

Picking images before a group session.
Picking images before a group session.

ICON is well-known for its variety in innovative work forms. The most common forms of this seminar were either sessions with the whole group, in which Jane Cook demonstrated specific approaches to coaching with one or two participants, or practice sessions in duos.

A welcome new form during the intense days was the late afternoon walk in pairs, in which the participants reflected on the day and the sessions. This was done in a mode of telling and concentrated listening and asking questions, so that essential coaching skills were still practiced, while enjoying the last hours of the light of day.

The lake close to Kallio-Kuninkala right before evening.
The lake close to Kallio-Kuninkala right before evening.

“Coaching and mentoring skills […] can enable us to take ownership of our development, generate new perspectives, and access our ‘best possible selves’ and those of the people we work with, be these students, colleagues or other professionals around us.” (ICON programme booklet)

Workshop leader Jane Cook gives an introduction to a group session.
Workshop leader Jane Cook gives an introduction to a group session.

In the last months a small team at HKU University of the Arts has been working on the development of a new research environment: Studio 118. The studio is a place for conducting, sharing and disseminating practice-based research at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire.

Next to individual research projects, the space hosts events and workshops for students or teachers of the conservatoire, such as the series on Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process

In January, I worked with Sef Hermans on parts of our music theatre work silencio, which will be premiered next season and also includes sections of live video.

This focus on live video has been continued during the last weeks, when the second series of the dedicated Live Video Research has started. These sessions focus on the development of the first artistic work within the project: a performance installation for prepared double bass, objects, live electronics and live video.

I am conducting these session together with Juriaan Achthoven, a young and talented theatre and media scholar, interested in artistic research. The collaboration involves both practical as well as conceptual-theoretical work, leading to a lecture performance on the 2nd of June, 2017, in Studio 118 at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire.

live video collage Kopie

After many acclaimed performances last year, the recent performance I will carry you over hard times with percussion player Maarten Zaagman has been invited to the Brighton Fringe Festival, as part of the “Dutch Season”. This will be the first series of performances in the UK, and we are much looking forward to this.

Maarten Zaagman performing "Hard Times" in Leiden in the public space, December 2016.
Maarten Zaagman performing “Hard Times” in Leiden in the public space, December 2016.

The performance will happen in the lovely location of St Andrews Church.

Next to the performances Maarten and I are also going to give a practical workshop, going into the experience of creating a musical choreography, in interaction and with the material of the participants.

From 16.-19. October the fourteenth seminar of the Innovative Conservatoire took place in Kallio-Kuninkala, Finland. Falk is member of the team of Creative Directors of ICON. The theme of this seminar was

Improvisation and Playfulness.

Relationship to identity, artistic development & professional practice.


The main building of the beautiful area of Kallio-Kuninkala
The main building of the beautiful area of Kallio-Kuninkala

The seminar was led by Bart van Rosmalen en Jo Hensel, and was designed to work with and on improvisation in all of its variaties. This means first of all different musical genres: jazz, free, classical, tonal, contemporary and experimental. From this point on, also interdisciplinary improvisation was included, as not only musicians, but also actors and dancers attended the seminar. Finally, the seminar explored broader ways of understanding improvisation in situation of one-to-one teaching, group lessons, professional collaboration and leadership.

The extended session
The extended session “The Art of Questioning / A Theatrical Dialogue”, led by Bart van Rosmalen.

During the seminar, the ICON-goers experienced the usual variety of different kinds of sessions: The whole group followed a physical movement session led by choreographer and dancer Kerry Nichols, while improvisation experts such as pianist Anto Pett, vocalist Anne-Liis Poll and pianist Aaron Shorr offered dedicated ensemble sessions in slightly smaller groups. This combination of forms was accompanied by several slots in which both participants as well as Creative Directors offered theme sessions for small groups, in which they worked on more individual and experimental themes, or on forms they use in their own work. Falk led two sessions here, one using a playful work form called Plaii, developed by Dutch art educator Annemarie Geerling, and Learning by Making, an already more tested-out form that explores the relationship between artistic practice and reflection, developed by Tet Koffeman, Bart van Rosmalen en Falk Hübner.

Participants during the
Participants during the “The Art of Questioning” session.

A special part of the seminar was devised by two time slots on the second and third day. The main house of Kallio-Kuninkala was transformed into a place of quietness and reflection, called the ”Reflective House”. Participants were invited, though not obliged, to come and reflect on the sessions, the collected experiences and viewpoints. It was possible to do this individually or to join in with dedicated reflective work forms, such as ”Improvised Writing” (Bart van Rosmalen), ”Silent Coaching” (Gerda van Zelm) or ”Reflecting through Making” (Jo Hensel).

Working quietly in and during the
Working quietly in and during the “Reflective House”.

As part of the preparations for the seminar, each participant was asked to bring some of their own books to the seminar that were related to the main theme. These books were collected to be part of a pop-up “library”, which was part of the Reflective House. Everybody could come here, look through the impressive yet contemplative variety of the books, read, and leave a trace – in form of a written note, a small drawing or any other kind of tangible reflection.

The collected books of the pop-up
The collected books of the pop-up “Library”.

The participants’ reactions on this seminar of the Innovative Conservatoire was overwhelmingly positive, with many participants voicing their enthusiasm in long feedback emails, asking for more continuous collaboration among the new-found colleagues and friends.

The performances of I will carry you over hard times at the Amsterdam Fringe festival have just been concluded. Maarten Zaagman performed the work at different places in the South and West of Amsterdam, and a number of performances in the heart of the festival, the Compagnietheater.

Both audience as well as professionals were enormously positive about the work. Many of them were impressed by the rhythmical virtuosity of the synchronicity between live gestures and soundtrack, the immense physicality of the closing sections, and the diverse intersecting layers of musical structure, bodily movement and objects in the stage space.

It was fascinating to witness and to experience the enormous and unexpected flexibility of the piece. Outside, in black box theatres, during lectures and in university spaces. Falk and Maarten leave the festival with a few more thoughts for the performance’s further development, which will lead to hopefully exciting experiments during the upcoming performances in Rotterdam in October (see dates).

As the next season has just begun, there are a number of exciting announcements. Here is an overview of the activities during the next months.

Next performance series I will carry you over hard times

After the succesful performances at the Delft Fringe Festival, Maarten Zaagman is going to perform the intensely physical I will carry you over hard times again. He will perform the piece during the Amsterdam Fringe Festival in the heart of the festival, the Compagnietheater in Amsterdam. Afterwards there will be three more performances at Crimp, the multidisciplinary underground series in Rotterdam, curated and organised by visual artist Arnold Schalks. For all performance dates, see here.

Premiere of silencio

Falk continues to work on silencio, a new upcoming music theatre work with Dutch-Australian trumpet player Sef Hermans. Although the exact date and location of the premiere is not yet set, it will likely be in spring in Pamplona, Spain. Relevant news will be announced as soon as possible, for some first information of the piece, see here.

First artistic output Live video research

In the first half of the season, from autumn to winter, Falk will work on the first artistic output of the three year long artistic research project on live video in music theatre, as part of his work at the HKU Research Centre Performative Processes. The artistic work will use the outcomes of the live video lab earlier this year, and develop these into a performance installation in four parts. Each of these parts will provide a distinct concept of using live video in relation to musical gestures and the instrument, as well as present the double bass in a unique experimental setting that challenges its identity as a musical instrument. This will also be the first time since a few years that Falk will act as a performer. The concept of the work will be available shortly on the sub page of the research project.

Performative Processes in Cape Town

The core team of the Research Centre Performative Processes is invited to present their research of the IYANTWAY project at the Multimodal Landscapes conference in Cape Town. Within the “research” strand of the conference the team will present Transforming Absence. Art as bridge from multimodal experiences to transdisciplinary collaboration.

The contribution explores the work and creative process of a group of artists in the transdisciplinary research project If you are not here, where are you?, between medicine, neuroscience and interdisciplinary arts. Nine artists from different artistic disciplines work in a collaboration with a group of eight young people between eight and 28 years old. Aim of the project is to find a language for the often fearful and misunderstood experiences that children have during absence seizures. Together with the children the artists create artistic utterances (music, paintings, interactive installations, etc.) that match with the experience before, during or after a seizure; to make the invisible experience visible, audible, experienceable.

In most cases the experiences of the young people during were multimodal, and much more described as holistic experiences than concretely within one artistic discipline or medium. One of the challenges was creating artistic works that do justice to the nature of the experiences. The presentation at the conference will address the challenges during this transformative process from multimodal experience to interdisciplinary art works. It will discuss the possible relevance and impact – of both the artistic collaboration between artists and children, as well as the “performative research” methodology – on research outside of the arts.

Teaching at Master Artist Educator

“If art is to chance the world, then artists must become agents of change.”

John Johnston, Head of International Master Artist Educator

With the beginning of this academic year, Falk starts to work as member of the core team of the master course Artist Educator (IMAE) at ArtEZ Arnhem, headed by John Johnston. IMAE takes the artistry of practitioners as a radical point of departure for education. The students’ artistic work and practice, which largely happens in context, will be at the centre of this studio-based program. For more information about the program, see here.

In June and July, trumpet player Sef Hermans and Falk Hübner finished their first work period for the new music theatre “silencio”, inspired by David Lynch’s “Club Silencio” in his well-known movie “Mulholland Drive”. The work will use texts by Lynch as well as the poem “Remainders” by New Zealand poet Lynley Edmeades, and will work with themes such as absence, loneliness, darkness and identity.

(photos by Beatriz Pomes Jimenez)

In the summer and autumn of 2016 the new work I will carry you over hard times with percussion player Maarten Zaagman will be performed several times, including the official premiere at the Delft Fringe festival.

Falk Hübner and Maarten Zaagman have worked in a close collaboration on the performance since 2015. Parts of the work have been shown at various conferences as part of lecture performances by Hübner. For the exact dates see here.

Poster sample