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.

The Simpson Board

How the Simpson Board came about

The Simpson Board came about when Adam Benjamin, co-founder of CandoCo Dance Company, watched how I created pictures with stones. He was interested in my process of  how I arranged each stone. I would look at where I wanted them to be placed. If they were not exactly in the right place, I would indicate with my eyes which direction they should move. So Adam thought, “Can this be done with bodies” and therefore organised a five day residency in 1995 at Hereward FE College. The residency involved students with and without disabilities.

As we developed the Simpson Board, my drive to be able to choreograph increased considerably. The enthusiasm within me to create a tool that enabled me to achieve my goals 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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