Dancing with Chekhov

Exploring Chekhov technique with a Cunningham-trained dancer

Julie Cunningham is dancer of great sensitivity, inventiveness and creative capacity, whose exquisite technique and presence has earned her the title of Outstanding Female Performance Modern at the National Dance Awards, for Michael Clark Company’s New Work 2012.

Julie is also a colleague and friend, treasured by me, amongst other things, for the interest we share in the politics of silenced performing bodies that are trained to serve, and in the creative potential between dance and acting/performance.

Following years training and performing with Merce Cunningham’s company and later Michael Clark Company, in 2015-16 Julie is creating her own work. Her curiosity for new ways of working has led to our current collaboration, in which I am bringing principles of Michael Chekhov technique — and my own inventions based on movement work with actors — into the dance studio, to collaborate with Julie and her ensemble of dancers.

As we work, we are constantly opening up new questions: about the naming of roles, definitions of authority, creative individuality, the boundaries between ‘acting’ and ‘dancing’, the role of the imagination, the possibilities of different forms of (non)storytelling through the body, and different means of tackling fears of the unknown or ‘forbidden’ in the creative process.

The pieces which this exploration accompanies will be shown in various venues in the UK in early 2016, including Resolution (the annual festival of new dance works at The Place, London), a Member’s Sharing at the Barbican (The Pit, Barbican, London) and What now Festival at Siobhan Davies Studies, London.