So, it is my last week in this post as Artistic Co-Director of Candoco Dance Company, for the company that has been my life for the last 17 years. I am leaving Artistic Co-Director Pedro Machado in charge until October 2017, and start as CEO/Artistic Director of CODA Oslo International Dance Festival in September this year.
Since Spring 2000 I have lived, breathed and travelled with Candoco, and my other half, Richard, claims he has been a Candoco-widow ever since. It is true that my life has been ruled by the Long Range Schedule, the intense spreadsheet that covers all Candoco activity, that changes from day to day and often spans three years ahead.
And what an exciting time it has been! Travelling to more than 40 countries in the world, meeting thousands of people in workshops and performing for tens of thousands (and I guess millions if you add the Paralympic Closing Ceremony broadcast). I have worked with and commissioned over 20 choreographers, and realised dream-projects; standing ovation at Sadler’s Wells was special, as was performing under the stars in Kenya next to the baboons. Working with Trisha Brown Company dancer Abigail Yager was a lesson in how to plan in order to let go, and debating the impact of dance training with the Minister for Education was exhilarating.
I have auditioned hundreds of dancers and chosen some amazing ones to work with. And I have had the great satisfaction of doing it together with Pedro, my Artistic Co-Director, whom I have known since we trained together at Trinity Laban, danced alongside as dancers in Candoco and now spent the last 10 years working with on steering this big ship that is Candoco.
Candoco has taken me on an amazing journey. Celeste Dandeker was my role model for being the best Artistic Co-Director I could be, and I think Pedro and I have managed to continue something of the legacy she and Adam Benjamin started with the company back in 1991. The focus was and is on creating interesting, exciting and high-quality work. And it was done with a daring and bold attitude – something Celeste and Adam had in abundance! As the new Artistic Co-Directors Charlotte Darbyshire and Ben Wright have been announced, I also leave feeling sure that the legacy of Candoco will continue at the core, but with bold new moves pushing forward the thinking about what dance can be.
So in my last few weeks I thought maybe things would slow down, but oh no. In true Candoco style, we have had one new dancer join us and a couple of new commissions confirmed. Pedro and I are really happy to leave knowing that we have secured two exciting new works. Firstly, Caroline Bowditch is a choreographer and performer that has touched many with her passionate and funny performance ‘Falling in Love with Frida’. Caroline cleverly combines autobiographic work and art references, and will create a new duet especially for outdoor spaces in 2018. Secondly, Theo Clinkard, a choreographer who has worked with companies ranging from Pina Bausch to Transitions, on massive stages as well as intimate spaces, is creating work on the full company to tour in 2019. Having invested time on research with Theo over the last couple of years, we have seen his natural ability to bring the best out of the dancers, to play with the design of the stage and to bring new perspectives to dance.
My final wish is to continue to share my passion for this company, for sharing what I think contemporary dance does best: to expand, challenge, investigate and celebrate how we can move.