David Dawson

INTERVIEW

David Dawson
Choreographer

Interview by Jump* Magazine
Published on Jump-magazine.info
2015

Jump*: The New York Times described you with the following words, »Mr. Dawson shows his sophistication of craft, his eye for beauty and his ability to give ballet a contemporary resonance«. Would you see yourself as an artist, a creator, a craftsman or a combination of all these?
David Dawson: »I would describe myself firstly as a choreographer. Being an artist, creator and craftsman are all part of my work as a choreographer. I also think of myself as a teacher. I try to help a dancer find an emotional reason to move within my choreography, within the journey of a ballet. To polish the articulation and body architecture, and to help feel a sense of artistic freedom. To help understanding how to turn up the volume on their own unique qualities, be brave, and use their creativity as a living force – all to enable a more confident and direct connection with their art and their audience«.

Jump*: Your life has been full of ups and downs, changes and movement. Is there a particular moment in your life which made the person you are today and/or who inspired you most?
DD: »This would be a difficult choice to make. There have been so many moments that have made me the person I am today, both as a professional and as a person. It includes a whole lifetime of experience and all the many amazing people I have met and learnt from along the way. To mention only a few names would mean I would omit so many. The day I discovered dance and every day since has been a gift of self discovery and belonging«.

Jump*: Living in Berlin – working all over the world. Travelling became a part of your life. Is it possible to sustain a daily routine? What does your routine look like?
DD: »When I am creating a new ballet my life is very simple; I wake very early with my mind focused on what I wish to achieve by the end of the day, then I go to the studio and process my ideas with the dancers. I enjoy working as many hours as I can so I can stay ‘in the zone’. Most days I am filled with excitement and hope, and I cannot wait to see the pictures in my head become a reality, but there are other days that can be hard too – when nothing seems to work the way I thought it would. When I have finished the rehearsal day I think about what happened and in which direction I should go next«.

Jump*: Music is one of the most important parts of your work. What kind of music do you listen to unrelated to your work? Are there surprises on your playlist or is the music you listen to connected to music which might be interesting for choreographic aspects?
DD: »I love and listen to all kinds of music. In fact, music is something I would find very difficult to live without. Classical, Retro, Electro, R&B, Pop – all have a way of making me feel an emotion – like miniature pictures or experiences of the human condition. If I need to open my mind and feel any particular emotion I use music. In recent years
I have been working closely with composers on new original works, and because I am witness to the moment of the musical creation, this experience helps me to really connect to the score – it somehow becomes part of me«.

Jump*: The notion of Art has been used in many different environments and not always in its true form. How would you personally define Art?
DD: »Art is human. It is the practice of elevating our mind, body and spirit to its highest point. I think of it as a portrait of the best we can be. Art holds a high position within our civilization because it is about creating rather than destroying. It has positive force. It is communication. It is the history of mankind«.

Jump*: Everyone defines passion themselves. How would you describe your passion for dance and working with dance? Would you say that the passion for what you do makes your work harder? Do you have any other passions other than dance?
D: Dawson: »My passion for dance relates directly to who I am. It is through dance that I identify myself to the world, and at the same time it is an intensely intimate relationship I have with myself. For me – passion means the idea of ‘work’ doesn’t really exist. It propels me forward and directs the curiosity I have for what is still yet to be achieved. My other passions include art of all kinds, my family – close and extended, reading, exploring different cultures«.

Jump*: You have a vast amount of grand achievements, it would be hard to imagine there would be something
Missing?
DD: »In my mind there is always the thought of the next creation- so in essence there is always something missing for me because I have yet to discover what that next creation will be, how I can push myself, what have I learnt, what do I want to say. It is a rare feeling for me to feel complete because there is always more to discover. It is a lifejourney«.

Jump*: Every company is different. Is it difficult to create for a company you have not worked with before and who has an individual style?
DD: »Creating for dancers you know very well is a great experience. Over the years we begin to speak the same language and develop a deep understanding. We can be our true selves. Working with dancers you do not know can be all about discovering who they are and what they can do. In any creation in any company I would need dancers who want to go with me on the journey. When I go into the studio I always believe that the dancers can do anything and this helps me to explore ideas without limitations. I would need them to be hungry to explore their own artistry. To be open to learning«.

Jump*: You have been choreographing since 1997 and got well known for your unique choreographic language. On the 9th of March 2008 was the premiere of »Giselle«, your first full length story ballet with the Semperoper Ballett Dresden and now on the 15th of February 2015 you will premiere »Tristan + Isolde« also with the Semperoper Ballet Dresden,
two classical full length ballets. What is the challenge in staging these two full length stories and breaking the expected stereotypes creating something new in your personal language?
DD: »These stories are about people. About relationships, choices, consequences. Love. I connect with them because I try to see myself in the characters. It is the human aspect of the story that interests me. I think every generation can retell these stories from their own perspective and make us think again about what they really mean. These are stories that are happening every day«.

Jump*: Would you like to direct your own company and do you have any concrete plans leading up to this?
DD: »Yes. One day I would like to direct my own company. But it would have to be the right place for me to be able to realise my vision. Until then – I am concentrating on creating and developing my own work«.

Jump*: London, Amsterdam, St Petersburg, Dresden, Antwerp and many more – did you ever think you would be travelling and choreographing this much when you were young?
DD: »All I knew was that I wanted dance in my life – since then I have followed wherever it would take me«.

Jump*: We spoke a lot about your past – but what about the future? How long do you see yourself as the brilliant choreographer you are today and what about your non-work related plans?
DD: »I try to approach everyday as if it were the one that matters the most. Who knows what the future brings. I aim to continue my journey as a Choreographer«.

Jump*: Your favourite designer, author and musician?
DD: »As designers Iparticularly like Alexander McQueen, Victor & Rolf, Iris van Herpen, Nicolas Formichetti, and Yumiko of course! Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, Joseph Campbell, E.E Cummings, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Proust are my favourite authors and J. S. Bach, Chopin, The XX, R. Strauss, Scanner, Wagner, Kate Bush, Greg Haines, London Grammar, Sufjan Stevens, Gavin Bryars, Szymon Brzoska are my favourite musicians«.

Jump*: What does David Dawson do during his rare free time?
DD: »My man, and our dogs. I love to be in nature, walking in forests, being by the sea. Friends. Going to see exhibitions, performances. Travelling. And I love to cook«.

This interview was originally posted on Jump-magazine.info, 2015
Copyright © 2015 by Jump*

X