Interview: Meet the teacher - Lizzi Kew Ross

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Photo: Justin Piperger

Lizzi Kew Ross teaches on the BA, Graduate Diploma and MA courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and is also a choreographer.

What was it that first drew you to dance?
My mother was a journalist and actor, so theatre and music was a large part of our family life. I remember going to a dance class at Battersea Arts Centre in the 1970’s, and then on the way home dancing all over Clapham Station thinking, ‘I can do this, I love this!’ I was thinking of training as an actor, but I felt dance reached something different in me – it was how I wanted to express myself that was ‘true’ for me.

What is your favourite thing about teaching at Trinity Laban?
I enjoy the discussion in the studio with the students and the sense of creating work together. There is a huge reward to see people in the ‘act of becoming’. The generosity of the students toward each other can be a hallmark of dance education, and that collaborative dynamic in a studio makes life very rich. My colleagues are hugely important to me, as that sharing of ideas, approaches and artistic life opens up and furthers my world and how I live in it.

You are the Artistic Director of Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, could you tell us more about this?
During 2012 I worked on a piece – Without Warning – with a multi-talented creative team including the composer Natasha Lohan. It was shown at the Laban Theatre and then at The Old Vic Tunnels underneath Waterloo Station. The performers were all alumni from Trinity Laban, musicians and dancers, and I created the company during that time. Since then, we have worked on Reading with Bach for libraries and Edgelands for gallery spaces.

Being Here – Rehearsal Footage for St. Pauls Cathedral from Lizzi Ross on Vimeo.

What has been your favourite choreographic credit and why?
Although Without Warning was demanding for us all, (Fay Patterson the lighting designer had to wire the tunnels, and the cast looked like dust gatherers during our time there), it was a significant moment in my thinking and creating site specific work. It was hugely exciting seeing dancers and musicians working interchangeably, and 3 underground tunnels with the trains from platforms 1-3 rumbling overhead become central to the ideas and images in the work. Since then, I have created work for churchyards with composer James Keane and another of my favourites was a commission for Dance United with musician Ruth Elder at 2 Temple Place during the William Morris exhibition Speak but one word to me. Being in that beautiful space with the artist’s work surrounding us, was a tonic and inspirational.

Where, what and who do you draw inspiration from?
Where: I visit art galleries and theatre.
What: Poetry, music and film are a constant in my life.
Who: The people I love and learning about the working methods of others artists. I return all the time to Tarkoksy’s fims and I am interested in the process of editing – the skill of reduction and finding the necessity of things.

Do you have a piece of advice that has always stuck with you and who was it said by?
Almost everything that Jane Dudley, ex-Graham dancer and teacher at The Place said during my time there: “What are you saving yourself for?”, and the choreography teacher Nina Fonoroff said “have a big waste paper basket” and “go away and start again”. Also the enigmatic statement “leave yourself alone!”.

Do you have any upcoming projects we should know about?
I have two projects are on the horizon: Stations of the Resurrection at St Pauls Cathedral April 26th 7pm with video artist Mark Dean, curated by Lucy Newman Cleeve, and dancers Henry Montes, Sonia Rafferty, Alice Sara, Morrighan McGillverary, and Dave Waring, with costume designer Suzie Holmes.
Secondly, a piece based on the Shipping Forecast for the 150th anniversary of the Cutty Sark 2019 at the Cutty Sark with composer Josh Spear and film maker Ros Chesher.

For more information please visit Lizzi Kew Ross website.

no marks on the map from james keane on Vimeo.

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