Scottish companies to stun at British Dance Edition 2016

From 15-18 March over 750 artists, producers and presenters will descend on Cardiff and Newport to showcase and celebrate the British dance sector at the prestigious British Dance Edition. In total 73 UK companies and independent artists, including six Scottish companies, will be presenting work, taking part in a trade show and pitching ideas to presenters from across the UK, Europe, Canada, USA, Africa, Russia and Asia. 

We were lucky enough to catch up with two of the Scottish companies performing at British Dance Edition, Joan Clevillé Dance and Scottish Dance Theatre, ahead of their performances…

Joan Clevillé Dance

Joan Clevillé Dance is an independent dance company based in Scotland, creating work that challenges the conventional boundaries between dance and theatre and is rooted in the fascination for human nature and the world we live in. We chatted to Artistic Director Joan Clevillé:

What does the opportunity to perform at British Dance Edition 2016 mean for Joan Clevillé Dance?

We are incredibly proud to have been selected as part of British Dance Edition 2016. For a small company like us, with only one year of existence, it is a big responsibility to represent Scotland and perform alongside some of the most prominent dance companies in the UK.

Performing at BDE is a fantastic opportunity to increase the profile and exposure of the company, particularly on an international level. No matter how much you try to ‘tell’ people about your work, there is no substitute for live performance. Programmers from all over the world will be able to watch and experience our work first hand. After that, it is much easier to have conversations and open up spaces for collaboration.

We have also been part of the ‘Business of Dance Programme’ organised by BDE and One Dance UK, which has given us access to seminars and training sessions on international touring, fundraising and marketing. My Assistant Producer and I will also spend some time shadowing bigger organisations working on the international sector, which is really valuable for us.

Finally, I am really looking forward to meeting other artists, engaging with them and seeing their work. It is a rare opportunity to have so many interesting people under one roof!

Solene Weinachter and John Kendall in Plan B for Utopia by Joan Cleville Dance. Photo: Nicole Guarino  

Can you tell us a bit about Plan B for Utopia?

Plan B for Utopia is our first full length work and it was premiered last year as part Dance Base’s showcase during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The piece explores the role that imagination and creativity can play as a catalyst for change in our personal and collective lives. Its creation emerged from the need to reconcile my artistic practice with the current socio-political context. I wanted to find a choreographic language that could render the gravity and complexity of the global challenges that we currently face to something manageable, less overwhelming, closer to human-scale.

Are there plans to tour the piece?

We will be taking the work to a range of venues across Scotland during spring and autumn 2016. We also have dates at Battersea Arts Centre, Dance City in Newcastle, and The Place in London, as well as festivals in Italy and Germany. The work has also been selected to be part of the first Rural Touring Dance Initiative, organised by the National Rural Touring Forum. This programme will take contemporary works to rural venues across the whole country.

Plan B for Utopia Promo from Joan Cleville on Vimeo.

What inspires and influences you as a choreographer and dancer? 

The human experience is always my point of departure. I am fascinated by the contradictory character of human nature, and I am interested in how the private can become a vehicle for the discussion of the public.

When I create a work, I am always drawing from many sources of inspiration and information: fiction books, essays, films, exhibitions or even the landscape. A great deal of inspiration also comes from working in the studio with the dancers. I am very lucky to work with such generous collaborators. No matter how much I prepare, they always bring an unexpected choice or question to the table, and that is creatively really exciting.

What else do you have planned for/ are you looking forward to in 2016?

I just came back from Austria, where I was working with Café Fuerte, a theatre company creating site-specific work. Our production took place in a forest clearing, on the snow, during the winter evening! So it was beautiful and challenging in equal measure.

I will be going back to the studio in May to start the research and development of my new full-length work, The North, which will premiere in 2017. I will be looking at our responses and representations of the idea of North, and I am planning to work with Nordic sagas and folk-tales.

The North 

Scottish Dance Theatre

Scottish Dance Theatre is Scotland’s national contemporary dance company and is part of Dundee Rep Theatre. Under the direction of Fleur Darkin, the company is committed to producing excellent and daring work that is led by the power of the dancing body. We spoke to Executive Producer Liam Sinclair:

What does performing at BDE mean for Scottish Dance Theatre?

British Dance Edition is a wonderful opportunity for us and we’re very excited to be part of 2016’s excellent line up.

We are delighted to have such a brilliant platform for us to showcase our work and that we’ve been selected for one of the headline evening slots makes it all the more exciting. We’ll be fully embracing this fantastic opportunity for us as a company and we can’t wait to perform.

The atmosphere at British Dance Edition is always electric, and there’s a real thrill that comes with being totally immersed among, and performing, for colleagues and contemporaries in the dance sector.

Our performance is part of a triple bill with Russell Maliphant and Phoenix Dance Theatre. We’ll be performing Dreamers by Slovakian Choreographer Anton Lachky (“Lachky’s choreography is like a pencil flying across the page, producing quick-witted movements that captivate” The Scotsman ★★★★) that premiered in February 2015 at Dundee Rep.

Scottish Dance Theatre's Dreamers. Photo: Brian Hartley 

What about in terms of connecting with others in the dance sector?

What we’ve seen in previous years is that it’s not just an excellent chance to meet with programmers and build further touring opportunities, but it’s also an incredibly motivating event. Members of the company really enjoy getting to see so much innovative work from others in the dance world and always come back filled energy and inspiration.

It’s great to have a few days of really concentrated dance experience, where we are all able to take in lots of new and different work and have interesting and thoughtful conversations with others in the dance sector from far and wide.

Dreamers by Anton Lachky Trailer from Scottish Dance Theatre on Vimeo.

What else does Scottish Dance Theatre have planned for 2016?

It’s a big year for Scottish Dance Theatre as we look to celebrate our 30th birthday.

We’ll be doing some work in the studio for Fleur Darkin’s new work ‘Velvet Petal’, a collaboration with Mexican musical group Cepro Music, and previewing this in Dundee in summer followed by a premiere in Mexico in October.

In September we’ll be hosting a range of birthday celebrations in Dundee, working closely with the local communities to create some new work. We’re excited to find out what comes out of bringing together professional dancers from our international company with ordinary people with great stories to tell and insights on their local communities.

Another initiative we’ll be hoping to launch of the back of our birthday is a youth dance company in the Whitfield area of Dundee. We’re hopeful that this will create opportunities for those who might not normally get to participate in dance. Although it’s wonderful if this creates an ambition for some to pursue a career in dance, we mostly just want to make sure that this offers lots of positive activities for young people to take part in.

We’re looking forward to further touring of YAMA, our Made in Scotland 2015 showcase work. We’ll be heading to Romania as part of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival in June, and then further touring in the UK and throughout Europe in November and December.

So a busy year ahead, but an exciting time for us!

Scottish Dance Theatre presents Yama by Damien Jalet. Photo: Brian Hartley

Photo credits: Joan Clevillé Dance - Nicole Guarino, Scottish Dance Theatre - Brian Hartley.

Find out more about British Dance Edition on their website or by following @BDE2016 on Twitter.

This article was published on 14 Mar 2016