Interview: Theresa Beattie, ROH2 [BDE 2012]

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Theresa Beattie

Theresa Beattie is the Interim Head of Dance Programming at ROH2, the contemporary arm of the Royal Opera House, which produces and presents opera and dance works as well as initiatives that focus on supporting the development of young creative practitioners. ROH2 represents the Royal Opera House’s commitment to bringing in new audiences, creating opportunities for the development of new work and identifying new talent. Theresa also works as a freelance consultant for dance and arts organizations specializing in programming, producing and artist development.

I would say that within central London ( everybody has a slightly different definition of what that is!) there’s plenty for audiences to choose from both in conventional theatre spaces and in less conventional performance spaces as well. There’s actually quite a healthy underground movement of dance activity as well as the mainstream – dance in the outdoors, and one-off performances in unusual spaces. I’m constantly amazed by the resourcefulness of dance artists in finding new spaces to make dance activity happen, and that applies in Central London as well as outside.

The richness of the artistic context in which dance takes place in London and from which it can draw makes this a great city for dance. Dance is an intrinsically collaborative form, and the potential for collaboration here is huge because we have such a vibrant arts sector as a whole. We have great venues and a lot of dance specialist venues and promoters compared to other capital cities; and we have a concentration of training centres and conservatoires throughout London which means a constant flow of undergraduates and postgraduates coming and going. The mobility of people who work in dance going out of London to different places and coming back, bringing new information and sharing it, I think that’s the thing that makes London special.

I felt Akram Khan’s recent piece Desh was very beautifully realised, a very intimate piece and managed in a very subtle and personal way. I’m looking forward to seeing In the Shadow of Man again, which Akram made for Aakash Odedra and which I saw at DanceXchange last December [BDE delegates only, ROH, Sat 4 Feb]. I think it really moves Aakash as a performer and interpreter to a new place, and that he in turn brings out quite a different quality in Akram as a choreographer.

I would encourage visitors to look out for special dance events not taking place in venues – something that you can turn up to and dip in and out of, like Rosemary Lee’s Square Dances project for Dance Umbrella last year. When you have the impact of large numbers of people dancing in one of London’s green spaces, a hundred women bearing down on you with bells, there’s something very exciting and surprisingly poetic about that. It’s worth doing a little bit of research, to experience a mixture of work in conventional spaces and work that might be in a more unusual space; and work that might take you to an unexpected part of London, that will really enhance your experience of the city itself. And obviously look at londondance.com, I always advise people that!

Over the next few weeks in London I’d recommend Aakash Odedra’s Rising at The Place (24 & 25 Feb)* featuring this extraordinary dancer in works by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan and with lighting by Michael Hulls and The Print Room (Notting Hill) as a venue including the forthcoming Jealousy programme . Looking further ahead of course the Tanztheatre Wuppertal Pina Bausch: World Cities 2012 programme at the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells. The scope and sweep of it mean it has to be one of the most exciting opportunities on the dance landscape.

*Forthcoming ROH2 performances include commissioned works by Choreographic Associates Sarah Dowling, Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Laïla Diallo in the Linbury Studio Theatre 29-31 March 2012.*

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