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MA Contemporary Performance Practices students participate in intense residency programme

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Residency culminates in multi-disciplinary performance showcase

By Lee Pinkerton

The fruits of an intensive five day residency for performing arts students at the University of East London were on display last month during a one night-only, live showcase at the G.A.S. Station in West Ham.

The 12 students studying on UEL’s MA in Contemporary Performance Practices (MA CPP) programme offered audiences multi-disciplinary performances which encompassed spoken word; urban dance; installation art; clowning; digital art and interactive theatre.

Every student on UEL’s MA CPP programme participates in the residency as part of their ‘Artistic Leadership’ module.

The residency programme, called DRIFT, was created in 2006 by Dr Jorge Lopes Ramos and Persis Jadé Maravala for emerging artists from all disciplines. It consists of an intensive week of project development and daily prototyping, with students working from 9am to 9pm each day. It culminates in a public sharing of the work-in-progress on the Friday evening.

Dr Jorge Lopes Ramos, who is also co-programme leader of UEL’s MA Contemporary Performance Practices course, said the approach is very effective.

He said, “The relevance of this methodology for CPP students is because the course is aimed at artists from various disciplines who are interested in cross-disciplinary collaboration and in going beyond their art form, but who don’t necessarily have the tools to do that. These methodologies aid this process."DRIFT has a very international flavour, and CPP students have the opportunity to collaborate with international artists and researchers from Colombia, Australia, Canada and Brazil.
UEL’s MA CPP programme is delivered with ZU-UK, an award-winning independent theatre and digital arts company based in East London and Rio de Janeiro. Over the last 12 years the residency model has been reproduced in over 11 countries.

Though the student’s performances are marked and assessed rigorously, it is virtually impossible to fail, Dr. Lopes Ramos said.

He said, “The DRIFT residency provides such an intense methodology – even the catering is taken care of – so we literally don’t have to leave the building all day. The days are structured with 10 different approaches to creating work. You’re constantly being asked to develop and show and test and show and show again every day. 

“It’s almost impossible not to progress on the work that they present and in general the work that results is incredibly strong.”
UEL and ZU-UK will be presenting the 20th edition of DRIFT next year. For more information on ZU-UK, visit 
Applications for the MA Contemporary Performance Practices are currently open.