What Is A Simpson Board?

The Simpson Board; a flexible A3 sized laminated board covered in the words, diagrams and symbols needed to create a dance. It allows the user to indicate using their eyes or by pointing where, on a virtual stage, they would like the dancers to go and what sort of moves they should make. An assistant who sits alongside the user, reading the Board then speaks these instructions aloud to the dancers.

How the Simpson Board came about

The Simpson Board came about when Adam Benjamin, former director and co-founder of CandoCo Dance Company, watched how I created a number of pieces with stones and the way in which I arranged each stone was by a process of looking at where I wanted them to be placed. If it was not exactly in the right place, I would indicate with my eyes and head which direction it needed to move in. Adam thought, “Can this be done with bodies” and therefore organised a five day residency in 1995 at Hereward FE College in Coventry involving students with and without disabilities, which I was a huge contributor. Adam was so inspired by the methods in which I produced visual artwork that he wanted to create a way to enable her to choreograph based on the same principles.

As we developed the Simpson Board, my drive to be able to choreograph increased considerably and the enthusiasm within me to create a tool that enabled me to achieve it, led to the Board being named after me. Although we made a substantial amount of progress during the week, it was clear that in order for me to have more of a precise decision e.g. individual movements of the dancers, the Board would have to be developed further. This led to Jonathon Thrift from the Roehampton Institute London becoming involved, who had expertise in dance analysis and notion. He went on to modify the Simpson Board with Bill Robbins, a student with the same degree of cerebral palsy as me.

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