, “Instead of this monstrous process of identity I would prefer, god help me, a dark whisper, or a little mud on the streets”. (James Thurber.)
I was rubbish at school. I left around 16 and went to live with a sculptor / artist and his extended family on a hill-top farm on the Isle of Man. I guess I was meant to be training as a sculptor, but was rubbish at this too. But I did learn (in retrospect) some stuff about living as, and being an artist.
At 18 I did a one-year training in theatre and dance, and kind-of enjoyed it. Then I ran a "making' workshop in Sussex full-time for 18 months working in multi-arts with difficult and disturbed kids. At 20 I moved to Provence and helped rebuild an ancient farm on a plateau into a community. I got involved in some street-theatre, and took workshops in various street-theatre skills etc. From my teens to 30's I also worked to earn money as a plasterer, a skill gained from working for 2 years under the very sweary, but very deep knowledge of a gnomic, but (almost) master builder in the Cotswolds!
At 25 I went to an island in the South China seas and trained in Tai Chi for many months, gaining for the very first time, some certificates! This bought me back to moving/dancing, and on return to Provence saw some folk doing "Le Contact", (I had to ask!) and joined in and loved it, and after some more adventures I ended up at Dartington College Of Arts and emerged 4 years later with a real degree. The dance training there was conceived and run by Mary O'Donnell Fulkerson, and centred around Anatomical Release, improvisation and composition. We trained in Contact Improvisation and much research with Steve Paxton, a regular teaching-artist at that time, as well as input from many other great artists from the Judson and post-Judson generations in the US, and Europe's "New Dance" scene. I then spent a lot of time in the USA teaching, making work, and continuing to take workshops and trainings with various great folk.
Over last 30+ years since, I’ve made around 85 performance pieces, taught, directed and performed across Europe, N+S America, Canada and Asia. I guess I've mostly been involved in choreography, improvisation, and movement-based performance-work both as a performer and director/maker and as a teaching artist and lecturer.
I've made some excellent work, some good work, some ok work and some crap work. Some reviews etc if you want somewhere on this site.
I was a regular guest-artist and teacher for 10 years at the European Dance Development Centre in Arnhem, then on the teaching faculty at artEZ Arnhem for quite a few more. An associate lecturer for 18 years at The Scottish School Of Contemporary Dance, 8 at Dartington College Of Arts, still am at Falmouth University, and was visiting professor of choreography at the Korean National University Of The Arts in S Korea, and at LEM Buenos Aires.
I've also taught at Mimar Sinam University Istanbul, Bratislava Conservatoire, Tanzhaus Dusseldorf, Bulgi University Istanbul, The School of Fine Art Caracus, Cientro en Movimento Lisbon. Dancers Group San Francisco. LEM Buenos Aires, Outfall Festival USA. Dance House Glasgow. Dancebase Edinburgh. Merseyside Dance Initiative, CETI Istanbul, Davis University USA, The London Contact Group, Studio 303 Montreal….and many other studios and workshops..
In Jan 2012 (by accident) I became acting head of choreography at Northern School Of Contemporary Dance for 6 months, then stayed on to work there for another 2 years as a full-time lecturer in choreography, until leaving in July 2014. I still teach teach the odd workshop or choreography/composition class and work with students on choreographic trainings occasionally, and am still an associate lecturer at Falmouth University College in UK. I make the odd commissioned piece here and there, and sometimes create stuff in research/workshop situations and show in a studio to folk who can drink wine and ask questions, preferring indeed a dark whisper, or a little mud in the streets.....
I've made a lot of my work outside the UK, and most of it also outside the traditional funding machinery, I was, and am completely useless at these negotiations, so had to find alternative ways to create, fund, and often site my work. But I enjoyed many years of making work all over the place with loads of really wonderful artists, without ever having anything at all to do with those who qualify or judge. Which was maybe an absolute joy compared to the hoops many folk seem to have to haul themselves through in order to get their work made.
I was even twice nominated for both an Isadora Duncan Award in San Francisco, and the Kolner Tanz Prize in Germany, but of course got none of them!
I’m dyslexic, left-handed and very much not academic, finding pretty much all arts academia just sucks the breath and joy out of it all, and creates .language that eats itself. I simply prefer information to be more kinetic, alive, patterned, on the hoof, or likely to fight back.
A lifetime of climbing, walking and being in mountains and wilderness continues to ask questions, and offer information on how perceptual systems, embodied compositional structures and choreographic forms are shaped, engaged and exchanged with environment and nature. (Oh please.....read Paul Shepard, Barry Lopez, Gretel Erlich, Tim Ingold, JJ Gibson, Christopher Alexander, Mary Oliver, Diane Ackerman, Gary Snyder, Annie Dillard, Jay Griffiths, Joan Halifax, Wendell Berry, Kathleen Jamie, Robert Macfarlane etc...)
Now I’m old, fat and bald and no-ones idea of a "dance" artist. I still seem to work on projects, still perform oddly quite a lot in my dotage, especially as an improviser, do some wee bits of teaching, and reckon Nietzsche was spot-on when he said “Never touch an idea you had sitting down”.
I'm probably happiest just walking, in forests, on hills and in mountains, not thinking or arting at all, just wandering and wondering. There now is much malarky made about walking-as-art, and psychogeography and flaneurs and lord knows what, and though I do love folk like Richard Long and Hamish Fulton's work hugely, I always thought walking was the best and most simple activity a human has left to their own discretion, without any need at all for any intervention, training, discussion, or clever folk writing sodding dissertations on it. I hear folk now pay other folk to take them for a walk in the woods..... Oh for fucks sake, it's FREE! Just get some boots on and go walking....alone and with soft open eyes....as if your life depended on it....
I have a little studio in my home on a hilltop in Haute Provence, with views to die for, and should of course be in it right now doing lots of deep research, but helas you'll most likely find me there with a glass of local red, making my banjo sound like someone treading on a cat..., ...ah well....c'est la vie.
Apart from making / directing my own work, I've also worked with or for...
Silke Z / Resistdance (Germany) Industrial and Domestic Theatre Contractors (UK) Stuart Laing / Untitled productions (Scotland) Ecoperformia (Venezuela) Compagnie Jano Cook (Canada) Les Moitsutoitsus (Canada) Scott Wells Dance Co (USA) Clarinda MacLow and Co (USA) Claire Russ Ensemble (UK) Alex Howard Co (UK) Women Are More Waterproof Than Men (UK) Company Of Angels (Scotland) Theaterworks (Scotland) Major Road (UK) Guillaume Choinard (Canada) Mind The Gap (UK) Le Temps Du Corps (France) Angela Praed/Cod Dance (UK) Greet De Maurisse (Belgium) Canvas Arts (Netherlands) YAC /Jung Artvision. (S Korea)