Featured Choreographer: July 2019
Feaured chreographer of the month: Gemma Morton
What motivates you to pursue a career in choreography?
I’d say my motivation comes from my love of two mediums – dance, and film. Dance can look so beautiful on screen when it’s shot well, and when the camera almost becomes part of the choreography. I came to pursuing my career in quite an unorthodox way; I started dancing when I was very small, but decided to follow a career as an Assistant Director in TV Drama, Film and Commercials. I was still dancing and doing some teaching on the sidelines, but after almost seven years as an AD, I reached a point where I had to decide which I wanted to take further. My hope was always that I would be able to come back to the industry as a Choreographer at a later time.
Can you share with us some highlights of your choreographic career and/or your current engagements?
Releasing this year will be ‘Ironbark’, a feature film on which I was the dance coach, and a children’s horror series for CBBC which I worked on as a choreographer and movement coach. This was the first time I had created ‘non-human’ movement for an actor and background cast, which was something I really enjoyed delving into. My next project is choreographing a Ballroom dance sequence for a dark comedy based around ‘Beauty and The Beast’.
How has your choreographic process and work developed over time?
It’s still developing! I try not to ‘over-prep’, aside from initial conversations and research. The ideas I have in my mind after I read a script or brief are constantly evolving – first when I meet a Director and Actors, and then again when it comes to rehearsals, and I understand how the people I am working with move, and what experiences and capabilities they are able to bring to the movement or choreography. The most exciting and challenging part of choreographing for me is when it comes to shooting, and being able to adapt ideas quickly due to restrictions or last minute changes. Trying to meld everyone’s vision into something that works on camera is what I enjoy the most.
What do you think are some of the main challenges choreographers are faced with today? Generally speaking I think it’s quite tough to carve out a niche in your specialist style, and for people to understand that most choreographers specialise in a particular genre of dance, even if they’ve dabbled in others. Mine is Ballroom and Latin, partner dances and the like; but ask me to choreograph a Hip-Hop routine and I’d struggle – and I’m ok with that, because there are amazing Choreographers out there who could. I know my own experience, knowledge and strengths, and with this comes the ability and confidence to work with those to deliver for the client, to bring out the best in an artist, to create interesting work and to give options that someone without my skills couldn’t give. With budgets and time pressures, I think it’s increasingly important for hirers to understand the importance of choosing the right person for the job.
What kind of work are you currently interested in pursuing?
My experience lies in Film, TV Drama and Commercials, so that’s what I’m currently pursuing. I have a particular interest in how dance can be used to promote brands in ad campaigns, choreographing Ballroom and Latin inspired dances in unexpected situations, or fusing them together with other styles of movement and dance – for example, using non-traditional music, costumes and locations. In the future I’d like to become more involved in Creative Direction – overseeing the whole picture as opposed to just the Choreography side of things.