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17 Nov 2023

Image Credit: Dan Jose

Founder of House of Absolute, Julia is a creative director, choreographer, and dance artist. Her critically acclaimed choreography on Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club in London’s West End won the 2022 Stage Debut Awards and was also nominated for the 2022 Olivier Award (Best Theatre Choreography).

Julia’s first experiences of dance were all about having fun. She says they “bring back memories of enjoying parties with my cousins. Then it probably was the social aspect of it, going out to youth clubs, being in year 7 and 8. There would be disco lights and dancing, all mixed up with sports.” At college she studied Performing Arts “because they didn’t let me study dance; I didn’t have any background in dance, or paperwork from exams such as ballet, tap, and modern.”

When Julia was 23, she met Stuart Thomas, a contemporary teacher at the time, who “taught me modern dance, including the Graham technique and the Horton technique of jazz. He was instrumental in massive learning for me.” After learning from Stuart, William Louther then took Julia to New York and on to Israel “to learn different techniques.” Julia then gained a scholarship in Austria to study at a physical theatre lab. Julia reflects on her experiences during this time: “I met lots of different people and was battling a lot at that time too. I joined a popping crew called IP (Immigration Poppers) and a New York waacking collective (IHOW UK) after I started learning the technique in New York.”

Julia began teaching at Roehampton University where she interacted with many students and commissioned a variety of projects; “I applied for a commission in 2010 Step Out Arts, a project advocating for visibility of East Asian Choreographers. I kept on applying for things… There’s always been some project on the go!”

In 2014, Julia founded House of Absolute. “I’ve always been interested in cross-art form work, and I’ve collaborated with all kinds of artists and musicians. I love working with different mediums and having a multi-disciplinary practice, colliding different worlds.”

When talking about her practice moving towards choreography, Julia said: “the move towards choreography came about from those early commissions to create work. I was increasingly choreographing on myself and others. After a while, I felt it was sometimes a better process to not always be dancing in my own work. I wanted to properly have the ‘outside eye’ while making the work, seeing everything.”

Inspiration is key for many artists, when asked what continues to inspire her, Julia said: “dance can transform the people who are coming to watch it. It can open their minds or create empathy. It allows someone to open up emotionally to whatever they are watching.”

Julia’s relationship with DanceEast started during one of the lockdowns. She spoke about DanceEast’s “care and their generosity to the community… they gave me five days [studio space]. That was such a generous arm-out to me during lockdown. Afterwards they supported me with Warrior Queens too, and really helped to make that show happen at Sadler’s Wells.”

Finally, Julia said she “trust[s] DanceEast. I feel like they ‘get’ it and they are always continuously trying to open conversations on things and with people they don’t yet know. They always try and do things in the right way, with integrity.”


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