Interview – Tamsin Fitzgerald, 2Faced Dance’s director and choreographer on RUN, their latest triple bill

Tamsin Fitzgerald, 2Faced Dance's artistic director.<br />© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)
Tamsin Fitzgerald, 2Faced Dance’s artistic director.
© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)
Full details of RUN bill and touring in Oct/Nov 2016

New Dance Explores the Dark Side

A new triple bill by Hereford-based 2Faced Dance Company aims to take audiences to the dark side.

RUN brings together work by three female choreographers from across the globe in an exploration of the human instinct for fight or flight.

Headed by 2Faced Dance’s artistic director and choreographer Tamsin Fitzgerald, the production tours the UK this autumn before travelling to India.

RUN TRAILER Part 2 from 2Faced Dance Company on Vimeo.

RUN is a step forward for 2Faced Dance, the company which Tamsin founded 17 ago and which has won acclaim for a number of its previous works including In the Dust, Dreaming in Code, Out of His Skin and Still Breathing.

RUN is very visceral and gritty,” says Tamsin. “It’s an hour and a half of physically adventurous contemporary dance with a hint of other styles of dance within that.

“There is a link that runs through all three pieces. It sounds quite dark but it’s that exploration of the human soul. Each piece looks at how we exist as humans and how easy it is to fall into the dark side. So Rebecca Evans’ piece takes inspiration from horror movies and looks at fear and our relationship to fear. Mine looks at social consciousness and our inability to stand up for our own strong beliefs. And Lenka Vagnerová’s piece is about angels who fall to earth and are stuck between heaven and hell.

Ed Warner in Lenka Vagnerova's <I>Fallen Angels</I>, part of <I>RUN</I> bill.<br />© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)
Ed Warner in Lenka Vagnerova’s Fallen Angels, part of RUN bill.
© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)

“It is fairly current in terms of what is happening in the world at the moment. We didn’t set out to do that but I think people will find it very relevant to today.”

Tamsin’s decision to commission all three works from women follows 2Faced’s launch of The BENCH – a project specifically aimed at providing opportunities for female choreographers.

“The BENCH came about because I had done a lot of work encouraging more men and boys into dance and I had sat on hundreds of panels over the years talking about how we encouraged men into dance,” explains Tamsin.

“Then I was having a conversation with our company’s dancers and we were talking about choreographers and we listed maybe 30 or 40 male choreographers but when we came to female choreographers we could only name about six or seven who had got to a certain level.

Jack Humphrey in RUN publicty image.© Chris Nash. (Click image for larger version)
Jack Humphrey in RUN publicty image.
© Chris Nash. (Click image for larger version)

“That started my brain ticking and I thought I would look into this a bit more. There had been a lot of debate about the lack of highly successful female choreographers but not really a lot of action – there wasn’t anything that really encompassed training, commissioning and networking. I’ve always been the kind of person who rolls up their sleeves and decides to tackle an issue when they see it. If you don’t agree with something then you do something about it.”

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The BENCH is now entering its second year and Tamsin has realised the shortage of females creating high profile dance is certainly not due to lack of talent.

“One of the things we learnt is that it’s not that there aren’t women out there creating work it’s just that women don’t get the same level of opportunity as men,” she says. “I think there are a lot of women creating work on a small scale but we just don’t get the same catapulting of our careers as men. There are a range of different reasons but it’s across society generally – not just the arts. A lot of the issues we talked about are issues women face in all fields.”

Tamsin Fitzgerald, 2Faced Dance's artistic director.© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)
Tamsin Fitzgerald, 2Faced Dance’s artistic director.
© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)

But Tamsin is determined to make a difference.

“The BENCH was supposed to be a small project and has ended up being a lot bigger. We’ve had commissions, a conference, a manifesto which companies can sign up to, we’ve received money to take it to India and we’ve had interest from other countries. It’s a really exciting time. I have been quite overwhelmed by the response and I’m hoping it will make a real change.”

The project has seen 2Faced Dance building links with Indian dance professionals after gaining funding from the Arts Council’s Reimagine India fund.

“We applied to go to India in January to meet lots of people and research the dance sector over there,” says Tamsin. “We wanted to take our work over there but also we were looking at setting up The BENCH in India.

RUN TRAILER Part 1 from 2Faced Dance Company on Vimeo.

“We found that if you are a female choreographer in India it takes a really long time to get your work made, partly because of there being so little funding available and also because of the stereotypical roles of men and women there.

“We went to three different areas of India – Mumbai, Bangalore and Kerala. We will go back in January taking RUN and we’ll also be running workshops there and commissioning two women through The BENCH to bring their work over here for 2017. Alongside their work, we will commission one of the year two fellows from The BENCH here for a triple bill – I’m really looking forward to the results.”

2Faced Dance is already reaping the rewards of The BENCH because one of the choreographers for RUN, Rebecca Evans, is a Fellow.

“Rebecca was on the first year of The BENCH and there was a commissioning opportunity at the end with the chance to pitch ideas and work,” recalls Tamsin. “The panel was me, our producer Phil Hargreaves and Brendan Keaney, artistic director of DanceEast who were commissioning Run. Rebecca’s pitch was excellent and full of ideas. She’s worked a lot with digital which is something different for the company and will be really exciting in this show.”

Jason Boyle and Jack Humphrey in Rebecca Evans' <I>The Other</I>, part of <I>RUN</I> bill.<br />© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)
Jason Boyle and Jack Humphrey in Rebecca Evans’ The Other, part of RUN bill.
© Luke Evans. (Click image for larger version)

RUN features two pieces of original music composed by Angus MacRae and Tomáš Vychytil and, in many ways, it continues 2Faced Dance’s evolution as a company.

Tamsin says: “RUN is a development of our work stylistically and really shows us improving. We’ve got an exceptional company at the moment – all of the dancers are very different but gel really well together. It’s a more mature work which keeps pushing us in the right direction.

“It’s always important to have good work regardless of the gender. It is important, women need opportunities to have their work seen and audiences need the chance to see that work, but overall the important thing is that the work is of a high quality.”

About the author

Diane Parkes

Diane Parkes is a freelance journalist specialising in the arts. Based in Birmingham, she has more than 20 years' experience of writing for print, websites and social media and specialises in syndicate features for a range of arts organisations including theatre and dance companies, venues and orchestras. Follow her on Twitter @DianeParkes1

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