We’re so excited to bring you the news that the first performance-based Cultural Residency at the Imagination Lab, the Institute of Imagination’s events space, will be Bittersuite’s project, The Firebird Lab. The residency explores our Imagination Matters theme Empathy and will be series of multi-sensory workshops exploring the theme, using Stravinsky’s The Firebird as a starting point. Projects like this are so important to explore how imagination can benefit well-being, combining the arts and other disciplines to explore alternative ways to understanding each other’s experiences.

Back in January we opened applications for iOi’s 2019 Cultural Residency exploring the theme of empathy. It’s such an exciting opportunity to bring together the practical work of the Imagination Lab and one of our key Imagination Matters themes, in a performance-based project for the first time.

The process and judging

Shortlisted from the 60 applicants, three finalists then presented to a group of 60 Lambeth school children. Their feedback, along with the feedback from our expert panel of shortlisting judges were presented to the Cultural residency’s Head Judge, Darcey Bussell. Darcey is our Imaginator for Empathy here at Imagination Matters and you can read more from her on dance and performance’s essential role in increasing empathy in this exclusive article.

The Firebird Lab

The winning project is The Firebird Lab from BitterSuite, who are London-based music practitioners. BitterSuite make music a multi-sensory experience, allowing participants to feel it through all the senses. They’re the perfect partner for the Imagination Lab’s immersive project.

We are so excited to bring ‘The Firebird’ to life. We can’t think of a more exciting space to work alongside young imaginations.

BitterSuite, 2019 Cultural Residents

The Firebird Lab will take Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ and create a series of workshops around the piece. Perfumers, chefs and music practitioners will be used to amplify and expand participants’ ability to feel and express their emotions about the music. This shared experience to a musical stimulus aims to boost empathy through experiencing an increased range of responses and expressions such as smell, touch and movement.

a project that offers wonderful opportunities for joyful experimentation

Gareth Binns, Chief Executive, Institute of Imagination

Darcey and the panel applauded BitterSuite for using the project as an opportunity to bring a Stravinsky piece such as this to those who may not know the music. She praised the simple but effective structure for the The Firebird Lab, allowing it to be easily transferable to other environments.

The Firebird Lab concept is excellent. The use of classical music helped the students focus quickly and listen and because Stravinsky’s The Firebird would be unfamiliar to most, it is inclusive.The simple but effective structure for the project would be easily transferable to other teachers, which is important for continuing learning beyond the Imagination Lab workshops, at home and in the classroom.

Darcey Bussell, Head Judge for the 2019 Cultural Residency and Imaginator for Empathy

The Firebird Lab will take place from April to July 2019 at the iOi’s Imagination Lab in Lambeth. You can find out more about the workshops and performances as part of the project by signing up to the iOi newsletter.

Read more about the work of the Institute of Imagination here.

Posted by:Sophie Sabin

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