The innovative and
creative dance company MOVE: The Company led by visionary
Joshua Beamish displayed outstanding form in the September 7-8th performance
at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre.
The dance company, formed in 2005, has brought original works by Beamish
to attentive audiences in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
Beamish is an alumni
of the New York Choreographic Institute, a New York City Ballet affiliate
and a Jerome Robbins Foundation grant award winner.
The program featured
seven dancers: Beamish, Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Lindsi Dec;
Tristan Dobrowney of Royal Winnipeg Ballet; Harrison James of National
Ballet of Canada; Sophia Lee of RWB, Jo-Ann Sundermeier of Smuin Ballet
and independent artist, Davon Rainey.
The dancers were
incredible and precise in their movement thus displaying both artistic
and technical mastery. The costuming choice of tight body suits (designed
by the artistic Reid Bartelme) gave an earthy, primal feel to the ballet
which was enhanced by an eclectic music score composed by David Lang.
Modern dance is
a demanding art form because there are no boundaries and the audience
can be biased toward traditional movement and music. However, Beamish
and the talented dancers rose to the challenge by presenting a stellar
performance that garnered energetic applause.
Beamish is also
appearing in a new piece with New York City Ballet principal dancer
Wendy Whelan entitled, Restless Creature. Vancouver dance audiences
will keenly anticipate the return of Beamish and his colorful, stylish
An Interview with Choreographer and Dancer Joshua Beamish
Photo: Glenn Baglo
- Who were your dance influences?
JB - The interesting thing about my path is that I
grew up in a small town and rarely saw professional dance. I wasn't
exposed too much, which I think made my choreographic vocabulary more
individual in some way. That being said, I have definitely been most
impacted by the work of Tiffany Tregarthen, Simone Orlando, Crystal
Pite, William Forsythe, Pina Bausch and Balanchine.
How did you get into dance?
JB - My mother is actually a ballet teacher. She started
me in tap dance and she would let me perform my own improvised solos
in our year end recitals from as early as 5 years old.
- What / where was your early dance training?
JB - I was born in Edmonton and started training there
at Variations. Upon moving to Kelowna, I trained at my mother's school
and at Okanagan Dance Studios in Penticton. At 16, I moved to Vancouver
where I trained at Pacific Dance Arts and the Source Dance Company for
a year before founding MOVE: the company. The bulk of my most instrumental
training came from workshops and summer intensives though.
- Why is dance an important art form?
JB - Dance is important because we all dance, professional
or not. It's one of our most primal and natural forms of expression
and, as such, it carries the ability to move viewers emotionally while
stimulating their desire to witness extraordinary acts of physicality.
- What does Pierced mean to you?
JB - Pierced relates directly to the brutality of being
shot in the heart with an arrow. That is what we must all suffer through
to fall in love. I find that very intriguing. Who would have thought
of something so horrific? This work follows the relationships of three
couples. I feel that I have been everyone one of these six individuals.
I've betrayed, I've been betrayed, I've experienced unrequited infatuation,
I've been reckless with the hearts of others and so forth. I think we
all have. I respond to the universal complexities of 'relationship'
in general and I like that viewers will be able to as well.
- How would you describe your choreographic style?
JB - My work has changed dramatically over the years.
I've engaged in everything from urban influenced work to ballet to dance
theatre. I'd say that the most defining element of the physical component
of my work is crisp isolation paired with waves of fluidity. I thrive
on movement invention. I want to show you a vocabulary that you haven't
- What is a big misconception about modern dance?
JB - The biggest misconception about modern dance is
that you have to 'get' it. Viewers get frustrated trying to figure out
what they are supposed to see but most often a choreographer just wants
the viewer to look at what is in front of them and then draw their own
conclusions. I love when audiences think my creative impetus was something
wildly different from the actuality.
- Other than your own, what dance company do you admire most?
JB - It's hard to pick one company. It's so rare that
anyone can get it 'right' every time but there are specific dancers,
specific works and even specific moments of works that I will never
forget. I most admire movement innovation paired with high intelligence
in composition. Given this, I'd say I most consistently respond to the
work of Crystal Pite and William Forsythe.
- What is a future project?
JB - I next begin a new creation for National Ballet
of Canada's YOUdance, followed by a creation on Cape Dance Company in
South Africa. I will then stage MOVE: the company's Allemande on the
National Ballet of Mexico (Compania Nacional de Danza de Mexico) for
their 50th Anniversary season gala, followed by a new creation for Santa
Barbara Dance Theatre and the US Tour of my new duet with New York City
Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan.
- How would you describe yourself as an artist?
JB - I would say that I value staying true to myself
and my artistic vision above all else. I'm not about to do things differently
just because it might win me higher favour or more funding. I make no
apologies for my choices and I seek to evolve constantly. I do what
I feel is right for me at the time, perhaps to a fault. I also place
the highest value on treating my collaborations and interpreters with
respect and gratitude. I believe that when dancers realize that you
believe in, and truly value, what they can offer, they will grant you
access to their most inspiring, and ultimately affecting, gifts.