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Leviathan: Q&A with James Wilton

Leviathan follows Ahab, a ship’s captain hell-bent on capturing the white whale: Moby Dick, a beast as vast and as dangerous as the sea itself, yet serene and beautiful beyond all imagining. This re-telling of Melville’s classic novel will keep you on the edge of your seat with athletic dance, martial arts and capoeira. We caught up with choreographer James Wilton to learn more about what we can expect from his work:

How did you get started in dance, and at what age?

I started to dance at 15, I chose it as an option for my GCSE’s. Things really started to move when I joined Cornwall Youth Dance Company and then I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career.

You trained as a dancer, what makes you want to choreograph as opposed to performing other people’s work?

Even when I started at 15, I was interested in choreography more than just perform-ing. I love the challenge of taking an idea that starts as just a seed of a thought and growing it in to a piece of art. I think what I prefer about choreography is that you start right at the genesis of the idea and see it through until the end whereas dancers usually come on board later on in the process.

What are the signature trademarks in your choreographic style and do they differ from your peers, if so – how?

I think the key signatures are the really raw, dynamic and almost aggressive move-ment quality as well as the introverted nature of the performance. I think the super-human physicality is what drives the work and what sets it apart from my peers. I also think that the martial arts/sport influence in the work makes it quite un-dance like, whilst still remaining deeply physical.

Your work often includes a particular style of music. What draws you to that?

I have to work to music that I connect with on a deeper level. I have listened to alter-native/progressive rock all my life and have a strong connection with it. With that said I listen to a really broad range of music, from classical to folk to German industrial music.

When recruiting dancers, what skills or style do you look for?

I think ability to use the floor and partner-work skills are essential as well as an ability to be really clear with movement and intention. I think dancers I work with also have a desire to get underneath the skin of the movement and feel the intention of the movement.

What approach do you take when making work? What point do you start from?

I always begin from a philosophical or political starting point. From there I like to work quite independently in growing the idea in to the finished product. I always have a physical goal I want to achieve but don’t always know exactly what it should look like. I think that is where the dancers come in in helping me realise exactly how it should look and what the work should “feel” like.

Catch Leviathan at Pavilion Dance on Thursday 6 October, 7.30pm and Friday 8 October, 8pm >>>

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