Announcing Research Commissions 2022/23 - NSCD


Friday 14th October 2022, 7:21pm Announcing Research Commissions 2022/23


We are pleased to announce the recipients of Research Commissions 2022/23: Azizi Cole, Nathan Crossan-Smith, IMPERMANENCE, Fabio Liberti, Marco di Nardo, Nightpeople, Sattva Ninja and Magnus Westwell.

Research Commissions are a paid opportunity for artists from any movement background to research their practice, without prescribed outcome, with our postgraduate companies VERVE and Watson Dance Project. Each artist will have bespoke research time between Nov 2022 - Jan 2023 with highly-skilled dancers from one or both companies, plus feedback and mentoring from NSCD staff.

The selected artists were chosen from over 180 submissions by a panel comprising NSCD CEO & Principal Sharon Watson MBE, VERVE curriculum lead Matteo Marfoglia and Watson Dance Project curriculum lead Gianluca Vincentini.

Read on to learn more about each of this year's artists.

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Azizi Cole

Working with VERVE

Born and raised in Handsworth, Birmingham, Azizi started his dance training at ACE Youth under the direction of Ian and Gail Parmel. While there, Azizi was nurtured through his formative years, developing key skills and life lessons. Today, Azizi composes and records music for contemporary dance, receiving commissions from artists such as Alesandra Seutin, HumanHood and Akeim Toussaint Buck. In the past two years he has developed a creative practice encompassing both dance and music with a heavy emphasis on musicality within movement. His practice is both performance and education-based, having taught workshops for both students and professionals.

Nathan Crossan-Smith

Working with VERVE & Watson Dance Project

Nathan is a director and practitioner from Manchester. He is Co-Director of Hydrocracker, a Trustee for Graeae and recipient of the Deutsche Bank Award for his youth justice project tipping point. He trained on LAMDA’s directing course and National Theatre’s directors’ course.

Nathan’s work brings together drama, movement, lyricism and creative access in projects ranging from grime-influenced Shakespeare, hip-hop theatre, dance theatre, devised and immersive work and interactive film.

Directing includes: WHO CARES 2032 (Hydrocracker), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Orange Tree), Richard II by William Shakespeare (LAMDA), Half Blue by Ava Wong Davies (Audible), Hurricane Protest Songs (Graeae), 140 bpm (National Theatre) and Before it Rains by Thea Gajic (NYT).

Creative projects include: National Theatre, Barbican, National Theatre Wales, 20 Stories High, The Yard, Contact, Gate Theatre and Donmar Warehouse.


Working with Watson Dance Project

IMPERMANENCE, directed by Roseanna Anderson & Josh Ben-Tovim, makes work which is theatrical, eclectic, political and entertaining; drawing inspiration from journals, film, poetry, interviews, paintings and historical figures.

IMPERMANENCE was nominated for Best Independent Company at the National Dance Awards 2022. Work for stage includes SEXBOX (“Ingenious Choreography” **** The Guardian); BAAL (British Council international tour); Da Da Darling (“Precision Crafted” **** The Observer); Major Arcana (Mayfest 2022).

Work for film includes Empty stage (Birmingham Royal Ballet); Lady Blackshirt (Bristol Old Vic, Sydney Opera House); FERAL (London Symphony Orchestra); BLAST (BBC Four), The Ballet of The Nations (Best art film, New Renaissance Film Festival).

Fabio Liberti

Working with VERVE 

Fabio is a freelance choreographer based in Denmark and Artistic Director of independent company MUOVI, which he founded in 2020.

Through an intense physical exploration of body possibilities and movement composition, Fabio deals with issues connected to the study and understanding of human behavior, inspired by reflections related to psychology, sociology and anthropology.

His latest works have analysed the perception and fragmentation of the self (As if, I have missed myself for MUOVI); the perception of the self in relation to social context (Lead Me for Mir Dance Company Gelsenkirchen); the perception of the self in the virtual context (#ASIFILOOKEDLIKEME) and conscious and unconscious social dynamics (NOOK for Skånes Dansteater).

Alongside the creation of choreographic works, Fabio has developed his own physical practice – Body Activation through Movement (BAM).

Marco di Nardo

Working with Watson Dance Project

Born in Naples, Italy, Marco started his dance career in 2003 in the b-boying scene, winning numerous national and international awards. He is currently a dancer and Assistant Choreographer at Wang Ramirez and one of the Artistic Directors of Frantics Dance Co. Marco has worked as Assistant Choreographer at Staatstheather Braunschweig, Panorama Dance Theather, Southpaw Dance Co, and Theather Sthral Berlin, and has directed and choreographed at TANZWERK101- HF ZUB, Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts and Oliva Contemporary Dance Project, among others. Marco has worked as a guest teacher at Opera Ballet du Capitol de Toulouse, Opera Garnier Paris, Göteborgs Operans Danskompani, CCN Ballet, Paris Opera, Staatstheater Kassel, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Maison De La Danse Lyon and School of Performing Arts Malta.


Working with VERVE

Night People is a Manchester-based company collaborating across artforms, fusing the worlds of contemporary dance, audio-visual performance and electronic music. They create performance installations, curated events and both physical and digital platforms that provide safe and welcoming space for their audience to experience a new wave of party and rave. Their work explores how dance, hype and the body’s relationship to electronic music can feed a sense of a new identity, creating belonging and connection with people across cultures, without language or social barriers.

Directed by choreographers and creative technologists, Aaron Howell and Daisy Howell, Night People integrates the use of various creative technologies, movement and club-inspired antics. They specialise in the use of motion capture, audio-reactive visuals, film, animation and projection. Through this collaborative practice the company explores an electric language of storytelling, building a multilayered and multidimensional performance experience for audiences to get lost and party in.

Sattva Ninja

Working with VERVE 

Sattva comes from what she describes as a ‘street dance freestyle training background’. This specific background has helped her to understand her own unique body, her own expression in movement, and ways of listening and interpreting music. When she’s performing Sattva considers herself to be a moving piece of art.

Her work strives to find a unique quality of movement and a unique understanding of music with a unique energy of character that transcends any kind of formal training. Her practice aims to elevate the status of freestyle to that of other commercial styles and forms, where flawless choreography and unison is the gold standard.

Magnus Westwell

Working with Watson Dance Project

Magnus Westwell is a Scottish Artist working with choreography and music composition.

Magnus’ creations can be raw, romantic and haunting, often looking at the extremes of ecstasy and emptiness. Their work has been performed across the UK and Europe in theatre, club, gallery and festival contexts, and featured online via Nowness, FACT, MTV and NME.

Magnus is currently a Young Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells, and has recently choreographed and directed movement for Marcelino Sambé and Dua Lipa, as well as collaborating with artists including Agnes? and Machine Woman. They have performed live sets at Cafe OTO and FOLD, manipulating live violin samples and experimenting with how orchestral textures can exist within electronic music.

Magnus co-produces and curates Lazarus, a club night platforming queer artists and DJs in late-night events across London.