5 Questions to Julie Cunningham, about choreographing, her link to Rambert and starting her own company…

Julie Cunningham.<br />© Amy Sinead Photography. (Click image for larger version)

Julie Cunningham.
© Amy Sinead Photography. (Click image for larger version)

Julie Cunningham on Twitter
www.rambert.org.uk

Julie Cunningham and Company make their debut at the Barbican Theatre on the 8-11 March 2017. Full Details

A busy time for Julie Cunningham – this last year she has become Rambert’s first Leverhulme Choreography Fellow and this week unveils her own company in performances at the Barbican. But Cunningham has always been busy since graduating from Rambert School, dancing in Germany, in NY with Merce Cunningham and latterly with Michael Clark Company…

You are much admired as a dancer but has the desire to be a choreographer and run a company always been there?

I have always been interested in making work, but as I have spent a lot of time working as a dancer it has been difficult to have the space to find my own way of moving. The choreographers I have worked for have very strong movement practices that demand complete physical immersion. It has only been since taking a break from being a company dancer that I have had the physical and mental space to find something of my own in my body.
 

Julie Cunningham and Company in <I>Returning</I>.<br />© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Julie Cunningham and Company in Returning.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Tell us about being Rambert’s Leverhulme Choreography Fellow. What does it enable you to do?

The fellowship had given me the time to start to develop my own practice, to ask myself what I want to do and how I want to move. This time has already revealed a lot to me. I feel really excited to be starting to find something interesting in the way I want to work, but also feel how far I have to go to get there. Being part of Rambert, through the fellowship, has also made me further consider the relationships that might be possible between freelance artist and institutions.
 

What’s your approach to creating work – do you have it all worked out before going in the studio? And who are your dance heroes?

I work a lot out before I go in the studio, but having said that I like to work with the people in front of me and am rarely so fixed that I can’t change my mind. I am very specific in what I ask from the dancers but also try to give them a sense of freedom to be themselves within the structures I create.

Merce is my dance hero!  Otherwise, my heros are my peers, the freelance dance artists such as Eleanor Perry, Daniel Hay Gordon and Impermanence Dance Theatre, Eleanor Sikorski, Amy Bell, Lucy Suggate –   they are creating really interesting and unique work and inspiring me to be myself.
 

Julie Cunningham and Company in <I>Returning</I>.<br />© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Julie Cunningham and Company in Returning.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

This week you present your new company (Julie Cunningham and Company) at the Barbican – what should we expect?

You will see a lot of me and three beautiful young dancers, Harry Alexander, Hannah Burfield and Alex Williams. We will be dancing to spoken word poetry by Kate Tempest and some music by Anohni. I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be a company, but we have been working together over the last year and are a good team, so that perhaps is what it is to me – learning about each other and how we can communicate the work together.
 

What’s your biggest dance wish?

That I can allow myself to change and grow as I go on. I am really amazed when I see people who have transformed themselves and their work over time.
 
 

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