Interview: Tamsin Fitzgerald

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Tamsin Fitzgerald

Tamsin Fitzgerald is the founder and artistic director of Hereford based 2Faced Dance, the all-male contemporary dance company who bring their double bill Dreaming in Code to The Place on 10th and 11th March as part of a spring tour….

What is 2Faced Dance and why the name?
The name reflects the two equal strands of the company’s programme that are at the heart of what we do: production and education. We produce highly physical dance performances for a wide audience alongside education and community dance programmes. We’re keen to tell new and original stories and to generate distinctive new work.

Why did you decide to form your own company and what do you like about being artistic director?
I started running classes in Hereford with a friend I trained with at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and they kind of took off. I started a GCSE dance class at a local secondary school and recruited some boys onto the course. These eight original boys became the first members of 2Faced Youth Dance Company. We then started to do more and more performances and it was attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2004 that established us as a company. We suddenly had bookings all over the UK and Europe and two years later I gave up my full-time job working in a college to completely focus on running the company. I like the freedom running your own company gives you and really being able to achieve great things. I love the fact that we are based in a very rural location and that Hereford has a world class dance company based within it! Why shouldn’t great, innovative and cutting edge dance be available for all to see, regardless of where you choose to live?

What’s special about 2Faced Dance?
I think it’s a very real company. We make work that is centred around audiences and the company ethos has always been about engaging with people. We offer a down to earth approach that appeals to a lot of audiences and venues. We also offer a mixture of work whose essence is about physicality. I think audiences go to see dance because they like to see people move, in a way that they can’t and people come to see our work because they support the company, rather than the individual pieces.

Why is it an all male group?
It was a group of young men who were the original company and therefore I have always kept true to the company’s roots, both in terms of gender and also in terms of its physical language. The company’s work and profile have changed tremendously since then and grown in so many ways.
I do work with female dancers on other projects and it is something that is under discussion at the moment for a large scale outdoor work that I want to produce in two years so…never say never!

What inspired you to make Dreaming In Code…
This is the first time we’ve presented a double bill; we like to mix things up a bit and offer our audiences something new and different. Dreaming in Code combines two approaches to physicality and this is what first interested me about working with Frantic Assembly’s Eddie Kay. Although I didn’t know Eddie before working with him, I had seen some of his work and I felt that the Frantic Assembly approach to movement would sit well with the company and would complement my own work. Eddie’s piece milk night is a poignant piece of physical theatre that sees the cast thrown into a world of the unknown in exploring what it might be like to live in a world without women.

Over the years I have become fascinated by the power of the brain and its ability to both control and disable the body. For my piece Lucid Ground this led me to look at my own recollection of childhood events and memories. Is what we remember the truth or a series of small truths pieced together to create a new event or story? What would happen if we were able to directly experience each other’s memories or dreams?”
They both share a similar context – looking to the future, exploring worlds which don’t yet exist.

Tell us about the look of the production…
We take a a different approach in each. Edde’s milk night is beautifully simplistic and evocative and involves the dancers lighting parts of the piece themselves. The music is fantastic and you kind of find yourself dancing in your own seat. For Lucid Grounds I worked very differently from how I normally create a piece – this time I worked in reverse, investing time very early on in working alongside the creative/production team. It has been wonderful working with ex-2Faced Youth Company dancer Luke Evans on the set. He really is someone to watch within the UK visual arts world. Luke, long-term collaborator James Mackenzie (lighting design) and I experimented with a few ideas, working out how we could physicalize the music through the set, bring brain waves and memories to life. I wanted the costumes to have movement in them and costume designers Garance Marneur & Susan Kulkarni came up with these fabulous coats that appear to be made of mercury!

And what about the music?
Lucid Grounds sees me reunited with composer Alex Baranowski who I first worked with in 2011 on In the Dust and then again in 2012 on The Rock, a piece I created for Moko Dance. Alex has also brought composer Angus MacRae on board. It’s been very inspirational, with Alex, Angus and I feeding off each other’s ideas, sounds and movement.

What’s your ambition for 2Faced Dance?
I want 2Faced Dance Company to be at the forefront of the contemporary dance world, nationally and internationally. I want us to keep producing great work and for audiences to keep seeing our work. I want to ensure that we keep training dancers to the highest standards and ensuring that we train dancers who are business minded and creative. We are launching a mentoring and producing programme for female choreographers this year – an area of development that is underexplored in the UK and a real area of concern for the industry. As a female who has created, developed, choreographed and led a major dance company in the UK, I feel well positioned to lead this programme alongside some of the UK’s most influential female leaders. It’s an exciting time.

What excites you about coming to The Place?
It’s historically one of the main centres for dance in the UK. We have a good following in London so it is really exciting to bring this latest work to them for two nights. It is important for us to show our work in the capital and for our audiences to see what exceptional work is being created outside of London. One of our dancers (Jack Humphrey) has just graduated from London Contemporary Dance School at The Place, which adds another level of excitement to performing there.

Catch 2Faced Dance at The Place on 10 & 11 March.
www.theplace.org.uk

The UK tour continues until the end of March. Dates & details:
www.2faceddance.co.uk

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