Notes on Survival

I was asked to offer some advice guidance for recent graduates, presumably the next generation of  dance artists.





Being A Dance Artist is both a magical and heartbreaking occupation.

Magical because you get to inhabit and generate a level of creativity that has the capacity to expand the world you/ we live in. 

Heart breaking because there are so many obstacles positioned to stop you/us.

At times it feels like we are only just avoiding artistic extinction! (This is not always a bad thing! I have imploded and re- emerged a second time a much better person/artist.)


Remember Dance is a Radical Act- but it is also highly addictive like a tube of Pringles once you pop you just cant stop.


Learn a second/third language  - Who knows what Brexitland will hold? But lets face it; it’s not going to pro Contemporary Dance. Live and work abroad it is one of the best professional development tools.


You have to be insanely curious- otherwise how do you pluck an idea out of depths of consciousness, design it’s form, give it meaning and offer it to the world. The process of making a Dance can be incredibly complex. It took me 5 yrs of trying ( in  public)before I made a half decent piece that was 10 minutes long!!!


How are you going to pay the bills?  Any tips please share


Stop copying and start doing- Please discover, understand and practice how you move, how your system works. Work hard at it, but stop copying, its not dancing its copying!


Dance is an articulation and generation of thought- you drop into a perceptual playground that cavorts and clashes with your  physical limitations - this is how new forms , new movements, new ideas are generated.


NO to mindless regurgitation

NO to 5678 shove it up your 9, 10, 11,12

NO to “longlegs and obedience”( Michael Klien)



It is no longer acceptable to place a glorified class sequence on stage and call is a performance, unless you are 12 yrs old.


 Communicate Communicate Communicate -The best thing I ever did was get communication training; the most important thing I ever did was implement the communication training.


The best mentors will ask you the most difficult questions here is an example

“  What COULD YOU DO differently” now apply this to every project you do, the results are interesting.


Develop your own “process interventions” theses will allow you to understand what it is you are making, it is criminal to not know what you are placing in the public domain. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for taking up time and space.


Please stop holding me hostage with your Dance works that really should be 15 minutes long, but you stretched out to an hour because that’s the way it’s done. Fuck the way it’s done. Stop waiting for permission to make work- stop waiting for money as Patti Smith says let the work be the currency.


We are all been played by some sophisticated Cultural Engineering. This system is about to collapse. Can you make work with no money? Very little resources?


I make-work because I want to transfer energy and ideas to those who witness it, otherwise what is the point? What is your point?


The pay is rubbish, but it is still a privilege to be an artist- especially in the world we live in.


Good documentation- you need good documentation



 There are so many things within this profession that you have very little influence over. Don’t bother trying to figure out how producers, programmers work, because it’s pretty dismal, often random and down to luck and timing and more depressingly a lot of unconscious bias. What you can focus all your energy and attention on is making your best work in very difficult conditions, and then at least you can sleep at night and there is a quiet strength to be gathered from this approach.


You need to have a lot grit and determination…….


I’ll leave you with some words by Rumi


“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field i’ll meet you there”