Featured Choreographer: April 2020

21 Apr 2020

Featured Choreographer of the month: Tim Casson, Artistic Director, Casson & Friends

Tim Casson in rehearsal. Dancers: Toke Broni Strandby. Image by Alisa Boant.

What motivates you to pursue a career in choreography?

I enjoy being creative and working with different people; composers, coders, writers, di-rectors, dancers, communities, the public! I want to make work that is joyful, relatable, and shares how brilliant dance is. I also love finding new and surprising ways for people to engage with dance, hence working with digital or putting dance in unexpected places.

Can you share with us some highlights of your choreographic career and/or your cur-rent engagements?

I worked with Disney to create an inclusive Star Wars inspired workout called Train Like a Jedi, it was sent to every primary school in the country, and was really fun to develop! I loved touring our digital interactive work, Choreocracy, and that people who saw it said “I want to play it again” rather than “watch” it again. Working with different ages and abilities through Stopgap Dance Company, and Skånes Dansteater in Sweden has been wonderful. The biggest highlight has been how many people we’ve met and made dances with in our work, The Dance WE Made, it’s still going after 9 years, has been to 8 different coun-tries – and pretty cool to have set a Guinness World Record with it too! I’m also Course Leader for the ‘Young Associates’ Choreographic Development Scheme at Sadler’s Wells, and it is a total privilege to mentor the young artists there, and to see them develop and grow along the programme.

How has your choreographic process and work developed over time?

One of the biggest developments has been context; I started creating work for public and unusual spaces, then we moved into theatres and online spaces – and now we make work across all of these contexts. I truly believe that dance can happen anywhere, and that it shouldn’t only exist in ‘black theatres and white studios’. We’re always asking people to come to us – why can’t we bring dance to people in their contexts on their terms? I’m also always developing how people engage with our creative process and produc-tions. Conversations with the public are often my starting point, but I’m always working on how we can keep that depth and quality of engagement throughout a whole process.

Tim Casson in rehearsal for Casson & Friends‘ ’PREPPERS ’. Dancers: Matthew Winston and Lucy Starkey. Image by Alisa Boant.

What do you think are some of the main challenges choreographers are faced with to-day?

I don’t think this is a new thing, but it’s always the sheer number of ‘hats’ that you have to wear when you’re self-producing — marketing, administration, accounting, tour booking, logistics, fundraising – all before you get anywhere near a studio! I’m lucky that I have a bit more support these days, but it can be really tough when you’re starting out and having to do everything yourself on a tiny budget.

What advice would you give to emerging choreographers?

If you’re just starting out, use the networks and resources you have. Can you borrow some space for an hour after rehearsal? Could some of your friends stay for a bit to help you test out your ideas? Creatively, I always say, there are no new ideas, but there are new combinations of ideas – find what is unique about your work and really push that. It’s a process and takes time, and even once you find that ‘thing’, being pioneering is re-ally hard work, so keep grafting if you believe in the difference you’re bringing. Most of all: be nice to people!

What kind of work are you currently interested in pursuing?

Anything that makes contemporary dance a bit more fun! We’re currently redeveloping some of our projects for care homes, hospitals, galleries and rural contexts. At the core of it all, I’m still really interested in people and work that tells people’s stories, we call it ‘People Powered Performance’. We’ve been working on a new documentary dance the-atre piece, and I’m also a big geek so digital will always play a part – especially when it allows us to engage people in interesting new ways – so there might be some fun new digital stuff on the way too


View a round up of what Casson & Friends got up to in 2019 here:


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