Jennifer Essex is a contemporary dancer and choreographer who works across the artistic spectrum from film, fashion to physical theatre. She is currently working with the Poise Performance Company on a unique retelling of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Dorian Gray’ which will open on the 7th of October at The CLF Art Cafe aka The Bussey Building in Peckham. I asked her to explain more about this reinterpretation of Dorian Gray and why she loves collaborating and dancing across different mediums.
HH: You are working with the Poise Performance company to present a mixed-media, physical and multi-sensorial retelling of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray . Can you tell us a bit more about this project and how you got involved?
JE: I’ve worked as a dancer and choreographer for the past ten years and am always looking for new challenges, so when Liane (Poise Performance’s Producer) approached me with the script for Dorian Gray I was intrigued. It’s a newly founded company so I felt there was an opportunity to explore an original style of physical theatre. After meeting the rest of the cast I was sold.
HH: What was it about this Oscar Wilde novel which inspired Poise Performance to put this type of performance together?
JE: I know it is Liane’s favorite novel and that Josh (the director) has always felt there there was so much that is physical in the book – there was a definite opportunity there. Having started work on it I can say that the text is very rich with metaphor and resonant with meaning, really wonderful to work with as a choreographer.
HH: How did a Canadian dancer and graduate from the University of Winnipeg end up in London?
JE: I fell in love with European companies/choreographers such as Pina Bauch, DV8 and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and somewhat naively set off without much of a plan! I’ve been very lucky though, working on wonderful projects. Last year I even got to work with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui on the feature film “Anna Karenina”
HH: Although you trained in contemporary dance, your projects seem to cross all sorts of different mediums. What compels you about working in site specific theatre, film and fashion ? Am I missing one? 🙂
JE: I love to collaborate with other artists. They have a fresh perspective and different working methods and I find that very exciting. Having danced since I was three years old, it’s great to be able to see it from a fresh angle.
HH: What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking of making dance a career?
JE: Take workshops with the companies you enjoy watching. The dance world in London can seem really big so making contacts is incredibly important. Also, be persistent. In the end, the people making a career in dance are the ones who just don’t give up.
HH: Any other projects coming up in 2013?
JE: I’m hoping to go back to Winnipeg in the new year to choreograph on a company I helped to found called Young Lungs Dance Exchange. I’m also headed up to the University of Cumbria to make a new work on their second year students.
On till 27th of October at The CLF Art Cafe aka The Bussey Bldg, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham Rye SE15 4ST //£15 on door