ED2015 Dance & Physical Theatre ED2015 Interviews ED2015 Week3 Edition

Eddie Nixon and Christina Elliot: Giving dance its place

By | Published on Thursday 27 August 2015

Paradise Lost

London-based dance performance hub The Place has shifted North this August to present three great shows as part of Summerhall’s Fringe programme. While it’s here, the venue has also teamed up with Total Theatre to launch a new award celebrating dance at the Festival. We caught up with Director Eddie Nixon and Producer Christina Elliot to find out more.

CC: For those not familiar with your year-round work, tell us a bit about The Place.
CE: The Place is in London and it’s somewhere you can watch, learn and make dance. As well as our theatre, and our classes, we support artists to make and tour dance shows.

CC: And tell us about the Work Place scheme.
CE: It’s an associate artist programme. We give eleven choreographers bespoke producing support, and some money, space and advice. They work in different ways, and make different styles of performance, so we tailor the way we work with them according to their ambitions.

CC: Why did you decide to bring three productions to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?
EN: The shows came first. Three artists we support had brilliant new shows and we thought they really deserved a broader audience than you can find in London. The Fringe is perfect for this, because there’s a curiosity and eagerness to try something unfamiliar here. We hope it will also lead to further opportunities for the shows to tour, and to be seen by even more people around the UK and beyond.

CC: Let’s talk about the shows, and let’s start with Ben Duke’s solo performance inspired by Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’.
EN: This is a show that reveals the fallibility of everything – theatre, God, the best laid plans. Like all good comedy it has a kind of masochistic wit. It’s an epic miniature about the fragility of creating things.

CC: And what about ‘Idiot-Syncrasy’?
EN: To say this piece is charming would be a monumental understatement! It’s bottled optimism; beguilingly simple and infectiously joyful. We’ve watched it many times and every night it still leaves your heart singing and jumping along.

CC: And finally ‘T-Dance’.
EN: We’ve all sat in some auditorium thinking “please don’t pick on me”. This show tenderly, lovingly ushers those feelings away. A dance that’s like feeling the hand of an old friend touching your cheek

CC: Why did you decide to collaborate with Summerhall on your Fringe season?
CE: It seems like one of the homes for experimentation on the Fringe at the moment, and so one of the places where you can find the kind of audience we just described. It’s full of artists and audiences who want to take a risk together. It’s also a great place to hang out.

CC: The Fringe’s dance programme can sometimes be overshadowed by the comedy and theatre sections, but is this a good place to present and perform dance-based shows?
CE: The categorisation is kind of the problem. It pigeonholes shows. There’s plenty of theatre with dance in it, and plenty of dance that’s very, very funny. In an alternative universe the Fringe brochure might just have one long section called ‘Performance’ and we’d all navigate our own way through it.

CC: You’re also partnering with Total Theatre on a new award this year, tell us more about that.
EN: There are lots of great dance shows at the Fringe and we thought they deserved to be talked about a lot more. The idea of the award is that it fuels the conversation, amongst the audience and the critics, about what makes a piece of dance performance unforgettable.

CC: I sort of thought Total Theatre had a dance award already! I suppose because they have celebrated some key dance shows in the past under their other categories. Why do you think there needs to be a standalone prize for this section of the Fringe?
CE: Like you said – dance slips under the radar. And as we said, we wish things were less sliced up. There aren’t any other major dance prizes on the Fringe and although, occasionally, a dance show sneaks into another category, at the moment we want to celebrate some of the outstanding shows that are up here. Maybe in a few years we won’t need it anymore.

CC: With three shows and the award, I am guessing you’ve had a very busy Festival. What have been the highlights so far?
EN: Seeing hundreds of people come out of the shows we’re presenting at Summerhall laughing, weeping, gesturing animatedly and saying “I’ve never really seen a dance show like that before”.

CC: Will we be able to see any of your Edinburgh shows at your own venue, or elsewhere, later this year?
EN: ‘Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me)’ is on at The Place in October. And Igor and Moreno – who are behind ‘Idiot-Syncrasy’ – and Vera Tussing – of ’T-Dance’ – are both premiering new shows with us the same month. And, of course, by the end of the Festival they’ll all have countless invitations to tour around the world.

The Place’s shows ‘Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me)’, ‘Idiot-Syncrasy’ and ‘T-Dance’ were all performed at Summerhall at Edinburgh Festival 2015.

LINKS: theplace.org.uk