LondonDance - Latest Articleshttp://londondance.comLatest news and articles from LondonDanceWed, 19 Dec 2018 08:01:38 +0000Thu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100Top dance shows to see this Christmas/articles/news/top-dance-shows-to-see-this-christmas//articles/news/top-dance-shows-to-see-this-christmas/Hansel & Gretel

The classic festive fairytale gets a dance makeover courtesy of Uchenna Dance, who transport the action to a big city and weave House, Waacking and Vogue with African and Contemporary Dance to create an entertaining production for ages 5+.
15–24 December, The Place

The Snowman

This family favourite – a stage adaptation of the Raymond Briggs picture book – is brought to life by Birmingham Repertory Theatre with a heart-warming mix of dance, spectacle, storytelling and live music.
Until 6 January, Peacock Theatre

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Thrilling, audacious and emotive, Matthew Bourne’s iconic interpretation of Swan Lake is best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble. The Royal Ballet’s newest Principal, Matthew Ball, makes his New Adventures debut in the role of ‘The Swan’, as does Will Bozier and Max Westwell.
Until 27 January, Sadler’s Wells


This musical from Australia’s Windmill Theatre Company promises theatrical spectacle, rocking music, colourful costumes and lots of silliness. Cabaret singer Paul Capsis stars in this UK premiere.
13 December – 6 January, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Circus 1903

Acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze artists and the award-winning puppeteers from War Horse recreate the Golden Age of circus in this turn of the century circus spectacular.
19 December – 5 January, Royal Festival Hall

The Nutcracker

There are plenty of opportunities to see this timeless ballet in the capital this year. The largest-scale production comes from Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall (pictured) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s famous score, while productions by The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet are also sure to delight.
Royal Albert Hall, 28 – 31 December
Royal Opera House, until 15 January
London Coliseum, 13 – 30 December

Wolfgang’s Magical Music Circus

An accessible introduction to circus and classical music for younger audiences from Australian company Circa, who combine Mozart’s music with daredevil stunts.
12 – 22 December, Barbican

Les Patineurs / Winter Dreams / The Concert

This triple bill from The Royal Ballet mixes the serious with the comically absurd. Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs is an inventive take on ice-skating, Kenneth MacMillan’s evocative ballet Winter Dreams is based on Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, while The Concert (pictured) choreographed by Jerome Robbins views audience behaviour through a comedic lens.
18 December – 4 January, Royal Opera House

NewsMon, 12 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0000
National Youth Dance Company announces new cohort /articles/news/national-youth-dance-company-announces-new-cohort//articles/news/national-youth-dance-company-announces-new-cohort/The country’s flagship company for young dancers, National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), has selected its seventh intake of members from 26 towns, cities and villages across England. The new cohort joins Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva to work on a new piece specially created for NYDC titled MADHEAD, which will tour the UK in 2019.

18 performance workshops took place across the country during the summer to select 28 new members for the 2018-19 intake. Consisting of 19 female and nine male dancers aged 15 – 24, the new members join the ten dancers returning from last year to form a company of 38.

Under the direction of Guest Artistic Director, Botis Seva, the company – which is run by Sadler’s Wells – premieres MADHEAD at Dance East in Ipswich on Saturday 20 April 2019, followed by a UK tour to be announced. The new commission fuses contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip hop.

Botis Seva’s appointment follows his recent highly acclaimed piece, BLKDOG, which formed part of the Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary commission, Reckonings, in October 2018. He takes over from last year’s Guest Artistic Director and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sharon Eyal whose production with NYDC, Used To Be Blonde, premiered at Sadler’s Wells and toured last year.

During their time with the company, NYDC dancers are offered a unique insight into the dance profession, living and working closely together as a company, alongside NYDC staff and the artistic team. The year-long experience in the company provides members with the necessary skills and techniques to find career opportunities and raise aspirations, self-esteem and confidence.

The dancers are mentored during four intensive residencies in school holidays to create and rehearse a new piece. Entering its seventh year, NYDC has, since its inception, established a reputation for producing high-quality productions by leading choreographers, Sharon Eyal (2017-18), Damien Jalet (2016-17), Michael Keegan-Dolan (2015-16), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (2014-15), Akram Khan (2013-14) and Jasmin Vardimon (2012-13).

NYDC has a track record of putting young people on paths to successful dance careers, with over 80% of all former NYDC dancers now either in further dance studies, in vocational training or working professionally. Graduates from NYDC have gone on to dance in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teac Damsa, Hofesh II, BalletBoyz, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Cullberg Ballet, Ultima Vez, Russell Maliphant Company, Rambert2 and the Jasmin Vardimon Company.

The 28 new dancers for NYDC 2018-2019 are:

Selako Jade Ackuaku, Berkshire (17)
Harvey Burke–Hamilton, Epsom (17)
Kendra Chiagoro–Noel, Ealing (18)
Erin Dallas, East Grinstead (17)
Sekou Diaby, Brixton (17)
Karim Dime, Hampstead (23)
Maia Faulker, Brighton (16)
Sarah Golden, Horfield (17)
Mark Halton, Ambleside (16)
Orla Hardie, Bath (17)
Connor Humphreys, Thatcham (17)
Ethan Hurip, Brighton (16)
Kit Ibbott, Great Bington (18)
Hannah Joseph, Stratford (16)
Ewelina Kosinka, Ashford (18)
Florence Lennon, Brighton (17)
Amelia Long, Nunhead (17)
Sandra Maduoma, Kelvedon (17)
Faye McLoughlin, Montpellier (17)
Mathilde Mellor, Lewes (16)
Harriet Musgrove, Exmouth (18)
Zara Philips, Greasby (17)
Ned Ratcliffe, Helston (17)
Anna Smith, Lingfield (18)
Millie Smith-Hashim, Saltdean (16)
Mollie Stebbing, Erith (18)
Harry Wilson, Intake (17)
Grace Young, Hull (18)

This new intake joins the ten returning NYDC dancers:

Gemma Baker, Wantage (17)
James Cooper, Blackpool (17)
Daisy Dancer, Hexham (17)
Lola Evans, Brighton (17)
James Hall, Cambridge (17)
Samara Langham, Nunhead (18)
Eleanor Roberts, Dartmouth (17)
Esme Tothill, Brighton (16)
Paul Davidson, West Dulwich (21)
Beth Gardiner, Wollaton (24)

NewsMon, 12 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0000
One Dance UK Awards - The Winners/articles/news/one-dance-uk-awards-the-winners//articles/news/one-dance-uk-awards-the-winners/The winners of the first ever dance sector-wide awards were announced on Saturday 24 November at the One Dance UK Awards ceremony at Leeds Beckett university.

One Dance UK hosted shortlisted nominees, sponsors, supporters and leading lights from the dance sector for an evening of celebration – a moment where the entire sector came together to applaud the talented professionals and practitioners working in dance today.

The winners of the 23 categories are as follows:

Dance Personality of the Year Award
Susan Calman

Best use of Dance by a Brand Award
Reed – Love Mondays

Jane Attenborough Award
Sponsored by Gordon & Co
Jacky Lansley

Dance of the African Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award
Supported by Derrick Anderson
Maxine Brown

People’s Choice Award
Dance Action Zone Leeds

Lifetime Achievement in Dance Education and Learning Award
Sponsored by Harlequin
Marion Gough

Outstanding Dance Programming Award
Sponsored by ISTD
Serendipity – LDIF

Research in Dance – Impact Award
Sponsored by Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Professor Matthew Wyon – Dance Science at University of Wolverhampton

Dance Healthcare Team Award
Sponsored by Fusion Sport Europe Ltd
London Contemporary Dance School

Dance Healthcare Practitioner Award
Supported by the Laws family
Karolin Krell – Osteopath and Physiotherapist

Dance Science Award
Sponsored by Birmingham Royal Ballet
Professor Matthew Wyon – Dance Science at University of Wolverhampton

Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner Award
Sponsored by Leeds City College
Rachel Liggitt – Shropshire

Dance Advocacy Award
Sponsored by Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Caroline Bowditch – Advocate and agent for change for access for disabled people in dance

Leeds Dance Partnership Award
Sponsored by Leeds Dance Partnership
Ian Rodley – Dance Action Zone Leeds

Outstanding Primary Dance Teaching Award
Sponsored by Dancewear Central
Lucy Seymour – Tannery Drift First School

Outstanding Secondary Dance Teaching Award
Geoff Lake – LeAF Studio School Bournemouth

Rising Star Award for Dance Teaching
Shaun Dillon – Suffolk

Dance Writing Award
Judith Mackrell

Innovation in Dance Award
Step Change Studios

Dance on Screen – Impact Award
Candoco Dance Company

Most Supportive Senior Leader or Governor Award
David Stewart – Oak Field School, Nottingham

Inspirational Lecturer at College, University or Conservatoire
Rosemary Brandt – Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Inspirational Work in Education (organisations)

The One Dance UK Awards 2019 categories will be announced in early 2019.

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Candoco Dance Company to perform on Strictly Come Dancing /articles/news/candoco-dance-company-announced-as-first-contempor//articles/news/candoco-dance-company-announced-as-first-contempor/Candoco Dance Company will become the first contemporary dance company to perform on Strictly Come Dancing when they open the results show on Sunday 25 November. The renowned contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers will perform a brand new dance choreographed by former judge Arlene Phillips to David Bowie’s classic Life on Mars, alongside thirteen of the programme’s professional dancers.

Arlene Phillips, who has previously collaborated with Candoco on the outdoor dance performance You and I Know, said:

“When I was asked by Candoco if I would be interested in working with the company on a project linking them together with some of the series-regular professionals in a unique piece, I was instantly intrigued. Admiring the Candoco artists and BBC Pros as I do, I quickly said yes, but soon realised it was going to be quite a complex undertaking. The first question I asked myself was how would I unite two groups of dancers that come from very different dance disciplines? Candoco dancers are trained in a contemporary style, whereas the Pros are trained in Latin and Ballroom. David Bowie’s Life on Mars became the chosen track because of its mystery, both musically and lyrically. My vision is that the dancers are drawn together by a strange force from across the universe; fighting, playing, loving. Working closely with the programme’s Creative Director of Choreography Jason Gilkison and Trent Whiddon through a workshop process of improvisation and sharing of genres, we could all move forward together as one.”

Established in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker-Arnold OBE and Adam Benjamin, Candoco Dance Company positions itself at the forefront of current and future thinking around contemporary dance and disability-inclusion, and holds an internationally-recognised reputation as a world leader in inclusive practice as best practice.

The company’s Artistic Co-Directors, Ben Wright and Charlotte Darbyshire, joined the company earlier this year, taking over from Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado who stepped down after a decade. Charlotte Darbyshire was herself a founder member of Candoco and, together, the new artistic co-directors remain curious about what dance can be, who gets to do it, where it takes place and why it matters.

Charlotte Darbyshire said:

“We are motivated by a shared belief that artists with different abilities, perspectives and experiences enrich our art form. Through our bold and distinctive productions and rigorous learning programme, we offer our audiences, participants and collaborating artists, a diverse range of dance experiences, of the highest quality.”

Photos: Candoco Dance Company in rehearsal for Strictly Come Dancing © Camilla Greenwell

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Saskia Horton wins Startin’ Point Legacy Commission 2019/articles/news/saskia-horton-wins-startin-point-legacy-commission//articles/news/saskia-horton-wins-startin-point-legacy-commission/The Place has announced Saskia Horton as the winner of the Startin’ Point Legacy Commission 2019, which champions UK artists whose practice is rooted in dances of the African diaspora. The commission is part of Startin’ Point Festival, founded and curated by Hakeem “Mr Impact” Onibudo, one of Arts Council England’s Change Makers.

In July, The Place launched an open call for UK-based choreographers and artists who wished to further develop an existing work and present it at the festival on 20 October 2018 at The Place.

Out of over 25 applications, three artists we shortlisted: Kloe Dean, Ffion Campbell Davies and Saskia Horton. Each received £1000 to assist in the development of their work. On the night of the performance, Ffion Campbell Davies won the audience prize of £1000 with her piece, Womb Paves Way.

A panel of industry experts comprised of Jessica Greer (Programme Manager, The Place), Maria Ryan (Creative Learning Producer, The Place), Freddie Opoku-Addaie (Choreographer, Performer, Educator), Jonzi D (Director, Breakin’ Convention) and Oliver Carruthers (Director, Gulbenkian) judged the three works on the night of the performance and decided on the work they felt has the greatest potential for future development. The Startin’ Point Legacy Commission 2019 was awarded to Saskia Horton for her piece Life According to Motown.

As the winner, Horton will receive financial support and mentorship towards developing her work into a full-length piece, and to find opportunities to present it across the UK in 2019/2020.

Saskia Horton is a 21 year old multidisciplinary artist who has trained in a variety of styles from contemporary to krump to waacking. As a musician, she is currently studying jazz violin at university, playing with her hip hop/grime/jazz fusion band Nihilism and producing her own music for dance theatre pieces and performances of spoken word and rap. She is currently finding ways to combine and choreograph with all of these influences and is interested in creating innovative, powerful theatre that connects people whilst making a deeply profound impact on the world.

Image: TheDuke.LDN

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
Cath James announced as Artistic Director of South East Dance /articles/news/cath-james-announced-as-artistic-director-of-south//articles/news/cath-james-announced-as-artistic-director-of-south/South East Dance has appointed Cath James as its Artistic Director.

Previously South East Dance’s Programme Director and most recently Acting Artistic Director/CEO, James will co-lead the arts charity as it prepares to take ownership of its new home The Dance Space, opening to the public in Spring 2020.

The appointment comes as part of an organisational restructure following the death of Artistic Director/CEO Jamie Watton in July. The new structure sees joint leadership for the organisation held by an Artistic Director and an Executive Director, recruitment for which will begin shortly.

Judith Hibberd, Acting Chair, says:

“South East Dance is about challenging perceptions of what dance looks like, how it’s made, who it’s for and what it can achieve. Cath presented a compelling vision for realising this whilst establishing The Dance Space firmly in the south east’s dance infrastructure and the local community’s hearts and minds. We are absolutely delighted that Cath will share leadership for South East Dance at this pivotal period in the organisation’s development.”

Cath James has over 35 years of professional dance industry experience. She trained as a dancer in Brisbane and performed with a number of Australian dance companies as well as with Rambert and Siobhan Davies Company, and was a founding member of Jeremy James & Company. Off-stage, she has taught for Company Wayne McGregor, New Adventures, Rambert, Scottish Ballet, The Place and the Dalston School in New York City. She has also curated for the Royal Opera House, and produced for SNAG and bgroup.

NewsSun, 11 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Alexander Whitley Dance Company brings new installation to London/articles/news/alexander-whitley-dance-company-brings-new-install//articles/news/alexander-whitley-dance-company-brings-new-install/Strange Stranger is a performance and interactive light installation that investigates the idea of presence and the right to be forgotten in the digital age.

This exciting interactive work by Alexander Whitley Dance Company comes to London for the first time as part of the Digital Weekender at Watermans in Brentford on 10 & 11 November.

Whitley is known for his groundbreaking use of interactive technology to redefine the parameters of choreography. His work often investigates the impact of technology, such as artificial intelligence, on contemporary human experience.

For this new work, Whitley collaborates with Dutch light installation artists Children of the Light, British composer Beatrice Dillon and Italian creative technologists, Luca Biada and Michele Panegrossi of Studio FENYCE.

Drawing on the notion of a ‘data shadow’ – the digital profile formed from the traces of information we unintentionally leave behind through our routine interaction with technology – Strange Stranger explores the paradox of how, the more information we have access to, the stranger and more incomprehensible the world seems.

Within a grid of three-metre high towers, structures appear, transform and vanish into the shadows as light animates the live interactive space. Data from activity inside the installation is captured by motion sensors, leaving traces in the light and altering the subsequent character of the space. A performance by four dancers provides the initial data for the installation, placing a ‘shadow’ within the space for the public to encounter as they explore its dynamic forms.

Commissioned by Sadler’s Wells and York Mediale, Strange Stranger premiered at York Mediale 2018.

Strange Stranger comes to Watermans on 10 & 11 November.

Photo: Strange Stranger © Tom Andrew

NewsSun, 11 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000
New dance horror film Suspiria comes to UK cinemas/articles/news/new-dance-horror-film-suspiria-comes-to-uk-cinem-1//articles/news/new-dance-horror-film-suspiria-comes-to-uk-cinem-1/A darkness swirls at the centre of a world-renowned dance company in new horror film Suspiria, which comes to UK cinemas from 16 November.

Curated global streaming service and theatrical film distributor MUBI has acquired the UK rights to Luca Guadagnino’s hotly anticipated and controversial reimagining of the iconic horror classic, which stars Dakota Johnson as an ambitious young dancer and Tilda Swinton as the dance troupe’s artistic director.

Featuring choreography by Damien Jalet and a soundtrack by Thom Yorke, this all-new reinterpretation of Dario Argento’s legendary giallo is directed by Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, I Am Love) and has been eliciting strong reactions and rave reviews following early screenings.

Here’s a sneak preview of a dance sequence from the film…

You can watch the official trailer here.

Suspiria comes to UK cinemas from 16 November.

NewsSun, 11 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Eddie Nixon appointed Artistic Director of The Place /articles/news/eddie-nixon-appointed-artistic-director-of-the-pla//articles/news/eddie-nixon-appointed-artistic-director-of-the-pla/The Place has announced the appointment of Eddie Nixon as its new Artistic Director.

Formerly Associate Director and later Director of Theatre and Artist Development at The Place, Nixon is an instrumental figure in the UK dance industry and takes over as Artistic Director from Richard Alston.

In 2019 – 2020, The Place will celebrate 50 years of creativity at the cutting edge of contemporary dance. Nixon’s new role will bring a holistic approach to artistic commissions, projects and collaborations across the breadth of the organisation – a pioneering powerhouse for dance development, with London Contemporary Dance School at its heart.

Eddie Nixon, Artistic Director of The Place says:

“My vision as an artistic leader is to empower creativity in the way we teach, train, support, nurture and cultivate the artists of the future. As one entity, we will stimulate a powerful and creative interchange amongst our classrooms, artists and the communities we serve. I will be working with a brilliant team of people and my job is to galvanise the energy that is in and around the organisation and use that strength to achieve really great things.”

Clare Connor, Chief Executive of The Place says about the appointment:

“Eddie has positioned The Place nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence and a driving force in contemporary dance. Building on this important network, he will be the central figure in an unprecedented collaborative model designed to release the potential and power of London Contemporary Dance School with the dynamism and possibilities of the Theatre and Artist Development programmes. I am excited to work with Eddie to make the decisions that will shape the future of dance for the next 50 years.”

Photo: Eddie Nixon, Artistic Director of The Place © Hugo Glendinning

NewsSun, 11 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000
November dance guide/articles/news/november_dance_guide//articles/news/november_dance_guide/Placebo

Do we have the power to make ourselves feel better? Seven dancers explore the placebo effect to a euphoric electro soundtrack in Clod Ensemble’s new work, which features costumes designed by fashion label Art School.
Until 10 November, The Place

La Bayadère

The Royal Ballet brings to life Natalia Makarova’s production of the iconic 19th-century Russian ballet, which follows the ill-fated romance between a temple dancer, Nikiya, and the warrior Solor. A series of arabesques across the moonlit stage in Act 3 is one of the ballet’s highlights – showcasing the strength of the corps de ballet and Marius Petipa’s choreography.
1 – 17 November, Royal Opera House


This new promenade piece by Shobana Jeyasingh commemorates the devastating 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Jeyasingh’s choreography echoes the scientific features of a virus – rapid, random and constantly shape-shifting – as eight female dancers contort, strategise and mutate as they explore the resilience and vulnerability of the human body.
2 & 3 November, British Library

Stroke Odysseys

Stroke survivors take to the stage in a poignant movement and song production choreographed by Ben Duke. The show, first performed at The Place in May, will be accompanied by panel discussions with dancers, musicians, neurologists and neuroscientists to explore the impact of storytelling through song and dance on the brain’s ability to heal itself.
3 November, King’s College

A Child’s Christmas, Poems and Tiger Eggs

One for all the family, this imaginative new ballet from Ballet Cymru is narrated by Cerys Matthews and based on the Dylan Thomas classic, A Child’s Christmas In Wales.
3 – 4 November, Sadler’s Wells


Rosie Kay Dance Company explore the rise of Illuminati conspiracies hidden in pop culture in this intriguing new dance piece created in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis. Costumes from Lady Gaga designer Gary Card add to this visually arresting work.
8 November, Southbank Centre

Fat Blokes

Performance artist Scottee uses contemporary dance as a form of ‘fat rebellion’ in his new show, made in collaboration with choreographer Lea Anderson. Fat Blokes stars an all-male cast – all of whom are new to dance – exploring flab, double chins and getting your kit off in public.
8 – 11 November, Southbank Centre


This topical physical theatre work from Ekata Theatre challenges the toxicity of nationalism through the story of one woman, encountered at different stages of her life, who never feels real connections to the people around her. Performed in the round by a multilingual ensemble, Unbelonger is directed by Finnish choreographer and director Erika Eva and uses object puppetry, choreography and a live score by Xavier Velastín.
9 – 12 November, The Cockpit

Layla and Majnun

American choreographer Mark Morris returns to Sadler’s Wells after a five year hiatus with a colourful and moving reimagining of the Ancient Persian tale Layla and Majnun. 16 dancers interpret the narrative of the star-crossed lovers, to improvised music sung in the style of mugham and a live score from the Silkroad Ensemble.
13 – 17 November, Sadler’s Wells

Flawless: Chase The Dream – The Grand Finale

Team work makes the dream work in the latest high-energy, acrobat-fused offering from popular dance troupe Flawless, the World Dance Champions who found mainstream success following their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent.
14 November, Indigo at The O2

The Unknown Soldier / Infra / Symphony in C

This triple bill from The Royal Ballet brings together the classical and the contemporary. The programme opens with a WWI-themed world premiere by Alastair Marriott, performed alongside Wayne McGregor’s abstract ballet Infra and George Balanchine’s 20th-century classic Symphony in C (pictured).
20 – 29 November, Royal Opera House

Darbar Festival

Curated by Akram Khan, the dance line-up for Darbar Festival features some of the most exciting names in classical Indian dance. Partners on and off stage, Renjith Babu and Vijna Vasudevan (pictured) present An Evening of Bharatanatyam in a new work choreographed by Mavin Khoo, while Adventures in Odissi and Kathak combines two classical Indian dance forms in solo performances by Sujata Mohapatra and Gauri Diwakar.
23 – 25 November, Sadler’s Wells


A striking three-and-a-half-tonnes of clay are ritualistically molded, heaped and shaped by 18 dancers in this UK premiere choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and performed by Swedish contemporary dance company GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. Design is by Cherkaoui’s regular collaborator, Antony Gormley.
30 November, Sadler’s Wells

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
“This isn’t just about fatness and dance – it’s also about class and dance.”/articles/news/scottee-and-lea-anderson-on-fat-blokes//articles/news/scottee-and-lea-anderson-on-fat-blokes/Artist and writer Scottee creates work that is political and provocative. From exploring working class masculinity in his first stage text Bravado to uncovering a queer community turning to neo-nationalist groups in his critically-acclaimed 2016 show Putting Words in Your Mouth, he has secured a reputation as a uniquely talented and progressive performance artist whose work is bold, brash and with something to say. His new show, Fat Blokes, comes to the Southbank Centre this month, and marks his first foray in to dance.

“I exist in a world in which the seat next to me on train, planes and buses is always left free” explains Scottee by email. “Folk take pictures of me when they think I’m not looking, they nudge their friends, point and laugh. I’m berated publically by those surrounded by their friends or in vans, they shout insults at me for being fat and taking up too much room. When I go to the doctor with eczema I leave with gastric surgery leaflets in my hand. The telly dedicates its prime time programming to wanting to fix me yet I don’t feel broken, or that I deserve the violence or abuse – that’s why [I created] Fat Blokes, ‘cause I’m confused, angry and mouthy!”

In his own words, Fat Blokes is “about flab, double chins and getting your kit off in public”, uncovering why fat men are never portrayed as sexy but always as funny, always the ‘before’ but never the ‘after’ shot. So what made him choose dance as a medium?

“As fat people, we are told to lose weight, to exercise, to move more and so we’re doing just that! I wanted to see what would happen if we gave the public what they wanted – fat people sweating for their supper! However, this comes with a price – it means you have to listen to our experience at the same time.

“Why dance? Well, my only encounters with dance (even the stuff that considers itself ‘diverse’) has only ever put thin folk front and centre. It feels bloody exciting to make it fat …and common! Most of us are working class, we grew up in poverty so this isn’t just about fatness and dance – it’s also about class and dance.”

Fat Blokes was made in collaboration with renowned choreographer Lea Anderson MBE, founder of the pioneering all-female dance company The Cholmondeleys and all-male The Featherstonehaughs in the 80s.

“When I was 18 I used to roll around the same arty nightclubs as Lea” says Scottee. “She’d put on turns and acts at Duckie, I shared the stage with her weirdos a few times and so plucked up the courage to ask her for a cuppa tea to see if she fancied making a fat dance show with me – she said yes. It’s been magic – we are different sort of artists but we’re democratic, like weird stuff and so it’s been a right laugh.”

All of the cast are new to dance, which was something Anderson took in her stride.

“I think it is important and very interesting to see all sorts of people dancing on stage”, she explains. “It enables an audience to identify with the work. As a director or choreographer, that is what you what you are after. Making connections.”

“I have worked with many performers who have no experience of dance and also non performers who for some reason find themselves in the position of being choreographed by me. I find all groups of non-dancer people to be similar in that they are all different, and they are all nervous to do something new and demanding. The Fat Blokes company was extremely well behaved and quite charming. They all worked very hard and I think some great stuff was produced by all the newly dancing performers. New dancers try very hard.”

“I ran an open call”, explains Scottee. “I asked anyone who identified as male / masculine or AMAB (assigned male at birth) who was fat to come forward and give it ago. None of us have ever done proper dance like this before, some of us had never been on stage before. Lea and I wanted a range of bodies to play with, we also wanted the right stories in the room as Fat Blokes explores more than just fat – it’s about how we feel about our bodies, violence, growing up, being left out and what utopia looks like for us.”

It’s a show that clearly resonates with audiences. “So far there’s been a lot of audience crying, a lot of them waiting for us in the bar to offload and share their story” explains Scottee.

“I think Fat Blokes is a show for anyone who’s ever second guessed themselves, who’s worried if they were good enough or pretty enough. All we ever wanted to make was something that told the truth – that wasn’t a show about pride or shame. We’ve made something that is about the confusing head space of being a fat person.”

Fat Blokes comes to the Southbank Centre on 8-11 November.

Photos by Holly Revell

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100
South East Dance launches fund to realise vision of Jamie Watton /articles/news/south-east-dance-launches-new-fund-to-realise-visi//articles/news/south-east-dance-launches-new-fund-to-realise-visi/South East Dance has launched The Jamie Watton Fund to secure the legacy of its late Artistic Director and CEO who died in July.

For more than a decade, Jamie Watton had been the driving force behind The Dance Space: a state of the art home for dance in the south east, opening to the public in spring 2020.

His vision was a space that would create meeting points between local communities and artists, particularly artists who take creative risks to find new ways of enticing more people to dance. An important cultural asset for the region, The Dance Space will comprise community and participation space, a flexible performance theatre, rehearsals studios, artist residency accommodation, and creative co-working space.

South East Dance has raised 97% of the £6.79 million needed to complete the project. This new fund aims to raise the final £190,000 and – in Watton’s name – create bursaries for innovative new artists and choreographers, and offer financial support to artists at the start of their careers, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Watton trained at Trinity Laban before joining its touring company Transitions and establishing his own company with long-time collaborator Fiona Edwards. He joined South East Dance as Artistic Director/CEO in 2009, where the idea for The Dance Space was born.

Sir Matthew Bourne says:

“Jamie holds a very special place in my heart as one of the original six dancers in my first full-length piece, Town and Country in 1991. We were all at the beginnings of our careers and I’m so proud that most of us went on to have very important roles to play in the UK dance scene over the following decades. Jamie’s vision for a space in which dance artists can create and rehearse work under one roof is such a vital one for the industry, and I share that passion. I’m looking forward to seeing his vision become a reality.”

Cath James, Acting Artistic Director at South East Dance, says:

“Jamie was an inspirational leader and a passionate advocate for dance and it’s tragic that he will never see The Dance Space open. Jamie celebrated and embraced risk and challenge and it was that ethos that continues to drive our ambition to realise a dance space he would have been proud of.”

To find out more and donate visit the South East Dance website.

Photo: Jamie Watton © Zoe Manders

NewsThu, 01 Jan 1970 01:00:00 +0100