Choreographer Janis Claxton on Humanimalia

Choreographer Janis Claxton on Humanimalia

An interview with the Australian choreographer

What made you want to be a choreographer?
I grew up running wild in the Australian bush and I was always dancing barefoot outdoors. I guess it was that connection with the wilderness and the land along with a need for emotional and creative release and a desire to experience the power and fullness of all of that in motion.

What is the inspiration behind your latest piece?

Humanimalia was originally inspired by Enclosure 44 – Humans, where in 2008 during the Edinburgh Fringe my company spent 11 days inside an animal enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. That led to a lot of research into the evolutionary connections we share with other animals especially the other great apes. Humanimalia is based on these connections, the 98% DNA we share with Chimpanzees and the 2% difference.

What are you looking for in the dancers who perform your choreography?
There are, of course, physical and technical needs and mostly I work with female dancers, but what is really important to me is to work with intelligent dancers who are committed and prepared to embrace the entire process from conception and research to development. So the dancers contribute at every level of the creative process. Their voices, movement and ideas are intricately woven throughout the work. I need to work with dancers who love the process and ethos of the company. I am not a ‘jobbing dancer’s’ choreographer!

What do you hope audiences will take away from your work?
I hope that audiences feel something, that they are moved and inspired. I hope Humanimalia gets them thinking about our place in the animal kingdom and I hope they donate some money to Budongo Conservation Field Station or any other conservation fund that is helping keep endangered species alive.

Humanimalia, Tramway, Glasgow, Friday 4 & Saturday 5 March; Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Friday 11 March; macrobert, Stirling, Thursday 17 March.


Fascinating piece of work from Edinburgh-based choreographer, Janis Claxton, inspired by her on-going research exploring the relationship between humans and primates which started at Edinburgh Zoo during the 2009 Fringe.

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