Featured Choreographer: August 2019
Featured Choreographer of the month: Shaun Dillon
What motivates you to pursue a career in choreography?
I feel a deep sadness when looking at all the divisions amongst us in the current climate, my work aims to find ways of healing this, bringing us together for a shared experience. I like to think my work comes from an innate need to keep helping others, ultimately I find motivation from the fact that art can heal. I also find great motivation from working with young people, they challenge openly which pushes me to keep my work constantly moving forward and evolving.
Can you share with us some highlights of your choreographic career and/or your current engagements?
My solo work ‘Hiraeth’ is a huge accomplishment due to its personal nature, losing my mother and then performing a solo about that experience just 8 weeks later was a cathartic experience and a magical evening with an amazing audience. Having the opportunity to create two works on youth dancers for the Edinburgh Fringe festival 2016 /2018 both incredibly heartfelt projects with special talent. I also have recently set up my own youth company which will give me a new platform to use my work to provide opportunities to the next generation of artists.
How has your choreographic process and work developed over time?
Initially my work was fairly naïve, relying on so much physical content and falling short conceptually. I have been fortunate enough to work with and observe some incredible artists who have allowed me to see my work from new perspective and find a more human and emotional strand to my work. I have also found myself bringing more dance theatre into my work which has allowed me to find new ways of connecting with my audiences. Which for me is what its all about, creating work that anybody can find their own connection to, whether that be emotional or a physical connection.
What do you think are some of the main challenges choreographers are faced with today?
It’s great to see work outside of the London being supported on a larger scale, but as a London based choreographer the funding just isn’t there. It is particularly tough to find performance opportunities that don’t require a great financial loss to take part. The only substantial platform in London is Resolutions but even then it becomes the highlight of the year which is done by the end of Feb. I also find that organisations just don’t take risks on artists as much as they used to, which is particularly frustrating when you feel you have something to say.
What advice would you give to emerging choreographers?
Take time to feed your craft, don’t feel disheartened by rejection. Use the resources you have and the skills of others. I have been incredibly lucky to work with amazing composers and film makers because they are good friends of mine, use them and collaborate. Keep making, even when you haven’t a platform to share what you’re doing. Mostly, and its super cliché but put heart into you work, when it comes from there nobody can touch it, nobody can tell you its wrong. And it remains a part of you.
What kind of work are you currently interested in pursuing?
At the moment I am particularly keen to keep working with young people, with all the cuts to youth services, arts subjects under threat from the government and mental health problems in the UK its more important than ever to create creative, supportive and safe spaces for young people that will allow them to find their voices. I also have an exciting project for children in the pipeline based on Alice in Wonderland, so securing funding for that is my next focus.