"I walked in with some ideas, and some lovely support and suggestions about how I might go about exploring, gaining knowledge and experience to inform future work from Christy Bolingbroke, who is the executive and artistic director at NCCAkron. Already with one residency period complete, I’m headed in a different direction than I thought before I arrived in Ohio... That is not what I thought would happen – and that’s valuable, and for me maybe the whole point of this time – to find something new and something which is of surprise, and of authentic interest."
-- Research Residency Artist John Heginbotham
John Heginbotham in rehearsal for Fly By Wire. Photo by Janelle Jones, courtesy the Watermill Center.
The NCCAkron Research Residency is a unique, longitudinal residency that supports research and experimentation. Invited artists come to NCCAkron at least once a year over the course of a three-year period. Their research locates them in a non-dance department on The University of Akron. Their affiliation with the hosting department is broad, without any official teaching duties or required collaboration, but rather access to thinkers in other fields so they may compare and discuss each other's work. Experiments and activities are developed based on the artist's interests. Such an invitation creates the possibility for a transformational experience rather than just another transaction.
The first Research Residency began in 2017 with choreographic technologist Sydney Skybetter. His co-host on campus was The University of Akron's Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC), a center dedicated to the advancement of innovation inspired by nature. In advance of Skybetter's first trip, remote meetings were held with Skybetter and BRIC's principal investigators and faculty. Skybetter met with BRIC in-person upon arriving in Akron to assess available facilities and discuss future research possibilities. He also took a field trip enlisting local dance company Verb Ballets to join him at New Territory (a virtual reality arcade), capitalizing on their movement knowledge and reflecting on it in a virtual experience.
The second Research Residency began in February 2018 with choreographer John Heginbotham, co-hosted by The University of Akron School of Music. His initial visit saw him working with UA faculty members Robert Brownlow and James Wilding as well as music composition students to research modular and chance elements in music and their application to choreography. His future Research Residency visits over the next three years will see him further interacting with the UA community as he continues to explore a range of interests including "current 3D video technology, motion capture, VR and mushrooms" (interview with DanceInforma).