Inspiration, fun and a new armoury

20 November 2017

Illuminate, our new site-specific piece for Library Live will see us transform Manchester Central Library through dance and movement, which includes taking over the Performance Space to present a professional intensive with dancers from all over the world.

On Tuesday 21 November, we’ll be welcoming dance artists from the USA, Sweden, Italy and Spain for two days of professional development led by our Co-Artistic Director, Anthony Missen. Here, we catch up with Anthony to find out more about it.

Q1. What will the intensive involve?
Both days of the intensive will start with an hour and a half of training – a series of exercises for strength building and inversion, some floor-based movement sequences and some energetic, fast paces and technically challenging standing phrases drawn from my own style.

The rest of the days will be spent with creative investigations – some improvisation and contact/partner work to introduce dancers to some of the methods and approaches I work with, and playing with some ideas I have for the next full-length work I will make for Company Chameleon in 2019.

This will be a mix of creative tasks, some things I have already asked participants to think about and bring with them, and there will also be time for me start to bring to life some of the pictures I see in my mind that will form the basis of scenes in the new work.

Q2. What is the purpose of the intensive?
There are several reasons we are running the intensive. The last intensive I ran was very well attended, with guests from many different countries. I was really pleased with how it ran, and the feedback showed a clear appetite for more. I travel alot working, both in the UK and overseas, and I am asked quite often when I’m going to run something people can attend.

Illuminate is bringing together a lot of different dancers and artistic collaborators, and it made sense for us to invite guests at a time when they could see our work being performed.

This intensive also serves as an invitation to international guest artists to explore our amazing city, and for the city to see some of the amazing talent that is out there.

It also serves as an opportunity for me to work more in depth with potential new company members – we have another full-time dancer contract to offer next year, and it’s very difficult in an audition scenario to explore so many different aspects of the way we work in great depth – time is always an issue (as is the number of bodies in the room).

Lastly, I am all about developing dance, and doing what I can to raise the standards we have here in Manchester and the UK more broadly. For me, offering my knowledge is part of this- I don’t know it all, no-one ever can, but I’ve done this for long enough to have learned some useful things that can be shared or passed on.


Q3. Who is taking part?
I have invited 14 guests to join us, six British Artists, and the rest from the USA, Lithuania, Austria, Sweden, Italy and Spain.

Q4. Have you delivered an intensive in a Library before – what does this space mean to you?
The Library has kindly supported our auditions and weekly sessions with Chameleon Youth over the last 18 months, but this is the first time I have delivered something like this in a library. I’m really pleased that there are people pushing the possibilities of how spaces can be used, and that it’s possible to re-imagine them in this way.

On another note, I have used the library for years through my studies, I was proud to see what had been done to it when it re-opened, and I’m delighted to be able to bring my own practice into it and to use a building, which is all about learning, to develop dance as an artform.

Q5. What do you hope the participants will take away from the experience?
Inspiration, fun, a new armoury, questions, new possibilities, ideas. It’s all about sharing, and the growth and learning that comes with this- and this is a two-way street – I receive as much as I give. I work in a way that is relaxed, informal, but focused. We work very hard, but I work hard to keep the atmosphere positive, upbeat and supportive. I hope they will take away that this way of working should be encouraged.

Q6. Is there an opportunity for the public to get involved?
In this intensive, we will be opening the side of the studio up at the end of the second day to allow the public to see what we are or have been experimenting with. With this, it provides the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at what it takes to develop choreographic works as often you only get to see the finished product.

This is in no way a performance, you shouldn’t expect one, but an insight into a part of a process that normally takes place out of public view. We will expose whatever it is we are working on at that point, and share little bits of what we have been investigating.

It’s an opportunity for people to be introduced to a really high-calibre of dancers and experience their practice completely unexpectedly, I really like the idea that we might be offering little pockets of inspiration and sparking creative thought for whoever is able to join us and watch.


Manchester Central Library will be opening up the sides of the Performance Space on Weds 22 Nov, 4-5pm, for an informal performance by the dance artists as they share their work. No need to book, just come along and watch. Free event. Read more about Illuminate and more free countdown events on the Library Live web-site.

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