Plan B for Utopia at British Dance Edition

Ahead of our performance at this year’s British Dance Edition, Joan talks with Creative Scotland about the festival and what’s in store for Joan Clevillé Dance this year.

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!

A woman lies facebook on the ground with her feet resting on a wall. She is surrounded by floodlights and hold 3 balloons in her hand

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.