Art director at The Place, the UK, on his favourite performances this season .
When I first meet Eddie Nixon, even a casual hand gesture is a giveaway—his 12-year career as a freelance dancer is evident. The current director of theatre and artist development at The Place, in the UK—one of the most well-known contemporary dance venues—was in the city for a talk at The British Council and to be a part of the jury for the third edition of the Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Awards. Nixon, who is responsible for the performance programme at Britain’s busiest dance venue, Robin Howard Dance Theatre, in addition to his other duties, says that he chose to become a contemporary dance performer because “I don‘t think I was very good at ballet. So it probably just worked in that way” (smiles). The 45-year-old gives us three contemporary dance performances and companies that get his vote. Catch them when you can, he says.
There is a superb show that we’ve worked on a bit, Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me), by a company called Lost Dog. It has been very popular and has won some awards in the UK. This is a dance theatre piece. It’s one of the most articulate kinds of expression of this language that hovers between dance and movement that I have come across in a long time. And it speaks about so many things that are universal—about creating, about parenthood, about ageing. It’s a very special performance.
If I think about more physically charged performances and if I think about companies, then I think quite a bit about Avant Garde, a company that has been to Chennai before, because of this language of really strongly hip-hop influenced contemporary movement that they are working with. And they are a very special company in the way that they do this. Very particular performances, which are carefully crafted and articulated. Design plays a very important role in what they do and the look of what they do.
Two weeks ago, I saw a performance by a fantastic choreographer from Tel Aviv, called Yasmeen Godder. It was really special for me because it, in a way, deals with participation by the audience in a very clever way, but it challenges the notion of how we as public might be a little manipulated without knowing it. Through performance, it uses a metaphor that, in a way, refers to something much broader. This is how—whatever it might be, media or politicians—we are tricked into behaviour, tricked into following a certain code of behaviour without knowing it. It does this in the most sophisticated, clever way. It’s an intelligent piece of work with fantastic dancers and superbly interesting movement language but on its other level what it speaks about is very interesting. I love these kinds of pieces.