A quick browse on your website illuminates the vast array of dance work
you have created and been involved in – it is hard to believe you are still in
your early twenties. How did you do it?!
Ha! In one sense I have been lucky – right place, right time – however
even when I was training I worked hard to volunteer for different organisations
and get as much experience as I could so I would build up contacts in the
industry. My work with Serena Korda for instance came out of me working for UP
Projects (initially as an intern and then evaluation coordinator) who
produce and commission large-scale outdoor work. I was asked to help her
realise ‘Dustercise’ an exercise class that complimented her commission for the
Wellcome Trust and she’s asked me to work on her other performance projects
since. The choreography I’ve made in Surrey, came about because when I went
back to live at home after my degree, there wasn’t much work being made and
Surrey Arts (the Councils Arts Department) had a commission which I applied for
and succeeded. That commission, ‘Share the Word’, toured to schools, care homes
and theatre settings which was a brilliant experience! Since then I’ve worked
to make partnerships with the other dance organisations in Surrey such as
Woking Dance Festival and the University of Surrey. I think there’s a place in
that part of the world to make things happen yourself! I’m still young and
still trying different ways of working, and working with different groups
including professional dancers and varied community and intergenerational
groups. I’m doing a project at the Royal Albert Hall next year, which is a
really exciting challenge. It’s partly about finding the opportunities where
you can make something happen, marrying that with appropriate funding as well
as discovering the way you want to work – I’ve learnt a lot in the past year!
It is for this reason your entrepreneurial skills have gained
recognition, as the winner of Epsom and Ewell’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
How important do you think it is for artists to have a “business
head” as well as a creative one?
I’m not sure I would call it a ‘business head’ as I don’t claim to know
anything about business. However, it is important to be able to make things
work if you don’t work with a producer as many young artists don’t have the
opportunity to do. It can be really intimidating stepping into the ‘business’
world, however funding-wise this has helped me a lot as there are a lot of
small funds for ‘start-up’ companies around. When I first set-up second hand
dance I did attend ‘business’ seminars and a week of an ‘introduction to
creative entrepreneurialism’ which not only helped with funding, but gave me
the opportunity to envision my company and what I wanted to do with it.
Business plans are useful and help you keep on course, even if they are scary.
For me, my ‘art’ is about making connections between audience, performer,
choreographer, place, music, costume and partners or other organisations; so I
see the planning of a project as well as its choreography as the creative
process, because the plan determines what the project can be, it all roles into
one for me.
It is great that a dance company has been recognised in the Business
Sector. Was it an ambition of yours to raise the profile of contemporary dance,
and get it to be taken seriously – or did it just happen?
I have to admit, it just happened – I don’t think the Business Sector
really take dance seriously as generally it is difficult to make any profit.
However, a definite aim of mine is to make connections with local businesses in
my area of Epsom and Surrey to raise the profile of my work – I’m still trying
to find a way in to that.
The work of Second Hand Dance is often in public spaces – what is it
that inspires you about site specific work?
Hmm, this is a current question for me really as I’m not sure on the
term ‘site-specific’. Public spaces interest me because of the interactions
that happen there and because they are not as scary as theatre spaces can be –
or as enclosed. I think there is something wonderful in discovering something
‘new’ and relish the expressions of surprise on the publics’ face when they
encounter dance in an unusual place. I’m also not keen on audiences sitting
down in auditoriums as I feel like as soon as you sit down and turn the lights
off, both your body and brain go to sleep! When sitting still you are not
really able to experience the physicality of a performer in your own body because
of the restricted space – not saying that at outside performances people move
lots, but there feels like there is more of an ability for the body to process
movement when you are not worried about disturbing the other bodies around you.
What current projects are you working on? What’s next for Second Hand
Lots is the short answer! I’ve been working a lot on developing projects
for next year. As I mentioned earlier, I’m choreographing a youth dance piece
for the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Surrey Arts Youth Celebration (29th
May). I’m working with Serena Kord in Bristol on a commission to create a new
folk dance for the community of Barton Hill (12th May). I’ll be working with
visual artist Mary Branson on a commemorative project at the Magna Carta memorial
in Runnymede next October. I’m also developing a performance of ‘Dads Dancing’
which we are hoping to apply for funding for and a series of collaborative
projects that will tour galleries later next year! It’s a really exciting time.
I’m currently showing Paper Solo, a collaboration with Josie Davis (Visual
Artist) and Alexandrina Hemsley (Dancer), we’ve just performed at Chisenhale
Dance Space as part of their ‘Homemade’ festival and it will go to The Lightbox
in Woking for Woking Dance Festival’s ‘Winter Shorts’ (17th December 2011). So
do keep up to date with everything on facebook.com/secondhanddance or twitter
@2_ndhanddance and on my website: www.secondhanddance.co.uk