Celebration 10 years of Company Chameleon; A Q&A with Anthony Missen

November 15, 2018

We were very lucky to capture Anthony Missen, Co-Artistic Director of Company Chameleon‘s thoughts and insights about all things 10, including key moments of the company’s past ten years.

The first thing we really want to know is what can audiences expect from 10?

People can expect variety, movement that you won’t have seen before, incredible performers, to be taken on a journey, catharsis. To move back and forward in your seat as you follow a roller coaster of ideas and emotions.

That sounds like it’s going to be a moving evening! Why have you decided to include Rites in this triple bill of work?

First that it’s a rich and powerful work. Rites was our first major work and what put us on the map. Although 10 years ago, the subject matter is as relevant now as it was then. There’s a lot of personal stories and history from Kevin and I within this work. It seemed fitting that this should be in this Bill- people spoke about it many years after seeing it- it’s also been studied in educational institutes. It captures the beginnings of what have become trademarks of our work, it’s physicality, inventive movement language. It is carrying a message and something that stays with you long after the show, questions, feelings, thoughts. People can bring themselves to it and within can, regardless of gender, see a brother, son, father, lover, friend. It’s a really moving piece with a sublime soundtrack- I’m glad I don’t have to do it any more- it’s gruelling to perform!

It’s a very special piece, we are so excited to have it performed here, and share it with our local audience! There are three works in your upcoming performance, can you describe Imprint in 3 words? (A good challenge on a Friday afternoon)

These are Kevin’s words (he choreographed this one)

Beautiful- emotional- connected

A great choice of words – and the third performance within the Triple Bill is called Trip – can you tell us more about this piece?

Trip is a solo created with and for our dancer Theo Fapohunda. It captures what interests me as a maker- the blending of language and form, and choreographic works that ride through a range of states- people laugh often watching this but are shifted somewhere completely different as we move through the piece. The underlying concept- self-deception- raises some very interesting questions not least, how did it evolve to become part of all of us, and from an evolutionary perspective, why is it valuable? I say we all do it because even if not conscious, the way we’ve gathered associates, self-talk, how we wake in the morning and tell ourselves we aren’t tired are all tied in with it.

I often bury myself in research preparing for a creation, and this was no exception. What was surprising here was that there isn’t a great deal of academic research on the subject. As part of my research I also pondered on the way people use Instagram, those wonderfully spiritual and meditative yoga postures posed for likes and celebrity culture- when people have eaten their own hype to the point where there can no longer discern the truth. Yes, I watched Rhianna videos and it was research (also being troubled by what young girls are learning from all of this).

The subject also posed a great challenge for me creatively- how to make physical expressions of self-deception, my commentary, and how to challenge the audience to also ask of themselves wasn’t an easy process.

I did really enjoy digging deep with Theo (the performer) in the creation of this work. He’s a tremendously talented individual, a ‘triple threat’ as some say, willing to explore and investigate, and share his mind within the process. A particularly fun time we spent as part of the process was the hours spent writing lyrics and then creating tracks from these- maybe the next stop is an album- some of them are great!!

That sounds brilliant, everyone needs a chuckle after a long week at work! Now that we’ve talked about the Triple Bill, we wanted to ask you more about your ten-year anniversary as Company Chameleon. What has been your personal highlight in your 10 years with the company?

Wow, that’s a big question, there’s been so many highlights!

Standing pre-speech, scanning the invited guests in our new building last month was a pretty special moment, reflecting on all that has been to get to this point.

Also, one of the most impactful times was during a project we were part of in Trinidad “Art Connect”, using dance as a creative intervention with a small group of young people who live daily with violence, crime, rape and death. What I witnessed through the weeks there (armed security watching over us) was something that re-affirmed how incredibly valuable, powerful and transformative dance has the capacity to be. As it did for me, it’s life changing stuff, and I will continue to be a powerful advocate for it- both for dance and for creativity more broadly, for it’s value to society on so many levels, and for the continued investment in and promotion of it.

Wow, what an inspiring, and emotional ten years. This leads us, sadly, onto our last question – we couldn’t agree more about the importance of dance and creativity, what we want to know is what advice would you give to young people, especially boys, who want to take up dance?

Do it! People judging is really a reflection of their own insecurities and fears. Be brave in discovering who you are. Dance can teach you so much about yourself and how your mind works. It is perhaps the oldest expression man (and woman) has- we’ve done it forever. It exists everywhere and will always be. As traditional forms have evolved through the ages, techniques developed and reshaped over the last few hundred, you are amongst those who will find its next evolution, both in new forms and where it can and will happen. That’s a really exciting idea for me!

Woah, that’s probably the best advice we have ever had!  We are going to put that on our wall. Thank you for answering our questions today and sharing your passion with us, you’ve inspired us all in the DanceEast office today!

It’s my pleasure! Keep doing the brilliant work you are doing, and enjoy the show!!!

Click here to book the last remaining tickets to 10, Friday 16 November, 7.30pm.

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