Choreography Lab Holder 2020: Alison Thomas
What does this opportunity mean to you and what do you expect to develop during this period of time at dx?
As an emerging artist, the opportunity to spend focussed dedicated time in the studio to delve into the creative process and interrogate an idea in a low-pressure environment is invaluable. Alongside mentorship and feedback, participating in the Choreographic Lab will allow me to grow and develop my practice at a key early stage of my career. I will continue developing my research focussed on protest.
As the current political and environmental climate grows more volatile, I am increasingly aware of protests worldwide. How are protests choreographic? How do they make use of the body, movement, voice? How do they encourage community and connection? I want to use the lab to further develop my initial findings, including exploring the use of archival footage, audience / community involvement, and site-specific location. This work feels particularly resonant in the current social climate, reflected in examples of Hong Kong and the Extinction Rebellion movement.
Tell us about you and your company
Alison is an emerging choreographer and dance artist with a strong fascination in the human condition. She believes that dance has huge communicative power, enabling us to talk about the bigger issues. After an undergraduate Geography and Psychology degree from the University of St Andrews, she completed an MA in Creative Practice at Trinity Laban, combining her academic and creative enquiries.
Her current choreographic practice lies in questioning what makes us human, telling stories, creating socio-politically engaged work, and widening access to dance by performing in public spaces for free and engaging in outreach. Her work has been shown at On the Rocks and Our City Dances festivals, and she has previously worked with James Cousins, Theo Clinkard, Gavin Coward and Matthew Robinson, as well as shadowing Joan Clevillé and Gary Clarke. She is also currently a PEER artist at Studio Wayne McGregor, benefiting from their artist development programme.
If you could collaborate with any artist in the world right now who would it be?
Dance: Gary Clarke – choreographer. I admire his capacity to discuss the political so explicitly in his work, whilst still offering a human vulnerability and character to connect and empathise with. Alongside his socio-political topics, Gary engages with local community members, involving them in the heart of the work, expanding ‘outreach’ to the work itself and not a run along programme. I like how Gary interviews real people in his creative processes to portray real events with integrity. I try to do the same and interviewed several protesters for my research, using their words as source material. I think our creative and political interests have a similarity and would consequently love to collaborate.
Non-Dance: Sarah Kay –poet. I’ve admired Sarah and her work for a few years. She has an incredible way with words, always getting to the emotional heart of a story and surprising you with empathy and feeling when you least expect it. I think she has a unique insight into our human vulnerability and compassion and I would love to explore the combination of my movement and her words. @kaysarahsera
Your first dance experience?
I started dancing aged 11 in my local village hall with Directions Performing Arts. It was a new dance school in the area and some friends were going to take a street dance lesson, and I thought I would tag along! I started with street and hip hop and completely fell in love with dancing. As I started to take it more seriously, I transitioned into ballet, jazz and tap, and aged 15 upon moving to Hong Kong discovered contemporary!
What is your most favourite dance video?
The simplicity behind this work, contrasted with the immense complexity and coordination to perform it this well is stunning. The movement is completely compelling and surprising, and I am always drawn to the two performers and their relationship, communication and trust. The use of physicality, manipulation and complete control is beautiful, funny and sometimes disturbing to watch.