Arts venue review: Trinity Laban
Today at the site of the Old Royal Naval College, students at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance are surrounded by the most inspiring examples of both traditional and contemporary architecture. The iconic Christopher Wren building at Greenwich – formerly the Old Naval College – has been home to Trinity since 2001, and the awesomely beautiful purpose-built Laban centre won the Stirling prize for architecture in 2003. Since the two colleges merged seven years ago, Trinity Music and Laban Dance have embraced the new realities of creative collaboration, and have opened their doors to the public with many events available for audiences, as hosts for professional visitors, and as venues for participation and training.
Gone are the days when music students could graduate into an orchestra for the rest of their career – like the rest of the world, there is no job for life, and musicians must multi-task, cross genres and proactively set up projects to create a career. Dance students, with shorter careers as dancers also have to think beyond their immediate skills. Trinity Laban takes seriously their responsibilities to students in equipping and encouraging them to engage with each other, the community and the profession.
World-class teaching keeps the standards high. Practicing the performance arts means maintaining traditions and repertoire while incorporating new influences and contemporary work. Trinity include significant departments specialising in jazz and early music, as well as classical, voice and composition training. Dance goes beyond the Laban principles to include many other forms of movement, musical theatre and performance. Both branches maintain international links and visiting professional performances and festivals.
The result of all this activity is a village within a village, with several venues in Greenwich, Deptford and Blackheath hosting their programme of events. The 18th century Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, with a magnificent ceiling by Thornhill, must be one of the finest recital halls anywhere. The architects Herzog and de Meuron closely collaborated at Laban with artist Michael Craig-Martin to create a spacious complex of dance studios and performance areas using glass and colour to great effect. It’s simply a wonderful building to be in, full of diffused light, and is also a centre for Pilates and other movement and health treatments – not just available for dancers.
This is all great for students and for locals, but the wider point is that Trinity Laban is a cultural resource for London. Set by the ever interesting and ever changing Thames, easily reachable by the still futuristic Docklands Light Railway, there are regular concerts and performances here from just about every aspect of dance and music.
For further information about Trinity Laban, click here.
Many events within Trinity Laban and related venues are free.