Brief Encounter With ... Anthony Missen & Kevin Turner (Company Chameleon)Date: 18 September 2009
Company Chameleon is the Dance Theatre Company established by co-Artistic Directors Kevin Turner and Anthony Missen. Their collaboration began some 15 years ago at Trafford Youth Dance Theatre, through formal training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and working together with some of Britain's leading Dance and Dance Theatre companies. After taking their own paths with some of the most innovative and exciting British and International Dance and Theatre companies, the duo have recombined to develop and present their own works. They are currently artists in residence at the Lowry in Salford, where they perform their latest work Kith/Kin later this month.
You have both worked with huge dance companies. What’s it like going it alone?
It is a huge learning experience, we both have had the opportunity to work as freelance artists before, but starting and establishing a company is something else all together. There are so many components related to legally and successfully launching a company as well as the administrative and operational procedures, we have to remind ourselves we are also the artists too. When working for other companies your focus is upon your role as an artist, as you have the full support of that company’s infrastructure behind you. As directors of our own company you have the task of building, maintaining and strategically leading and directing the company as well as making and maintaining the artistic work. So it is challenging in a lot of ways, but we have the satisfaction of knowing that it is our work we are producing, creating and performing.
Tell us about Kith/Kin. What is the concept?
We chose to call the program kith/kin due to the nature of the project and the conception of the works.Kith/kin is a concise version of the old expression “Kith and kin”. We use this as a direct reference to our relationship as old friends, where the barrier between friend or brother kith or kin is blurred. The evening is a series of duets comprising of “Before night fell” and “Rites” which both draw upon our friendship, our shared histories and journeys and how we relate to one another.
We wanted to have something in the title of the evening, that reflects our old friendship. We treat each other as brothers, which in a many ways influences both works. What is interesting about the program is that in “Before Night Fell” it is a duet drawing on a friendship as one of the strands in the work from a female perspective and in “Rites” it also does the same but from a male perspective.
The Lowry has really put dance at the forefront of its programming. What’s it like working with them?
To have the support of the Lowry is fantastic. When we both came back to Manchester we both said to ourselves that the Lowry was the place where we wanted to be in resident, and within a year we was lucky enough for that to be so. We both have a long history with the theatre and were part of the performance that opened the building in 1999. It has been nice to work within the building, this is the first time they have housed a resident company so we have had our ups and downs and teething problems but it is all learning process for all. We are both excited about performing the work in the quays theatre.
Working so closely as a duo and friends must sometimes be intense. How do you both keep each other on task?
We have both known each other for a very long time and although that can make certain situations intense, we are generally very good at keeping a certain space and respect for one another, to allow the communication to take place. We both know that we are passionate about the work and are both moving towards making it the best it can be.
What do you enjoy the most about performing in the North West?
As artists that come from the region it is always a great joy and pleasure to perform here to be so close to family and friends, and to share with them our artistic endeavours. The people from he North West are a very honest and open audience and will have no qualms communicating their thoughts and feelings about the work to you. As an artist it is always great to see, hear and talk about the impact or impression the work has had upon the audience. This type of feedback allows the work and us to grow.
What are your plans for the future, following Kith/Kin?
Well we are still at the beginning of the journey in regards to Kith/Kin; we are working actively to create more opportunities for the work to be presented both nationally and internationally. We already have our ideas for the next work and we hope grant willing to get the opportunity to produce another evening of work and continue to invest in our development as artists, and contribute as much as we can to the region as a whole.
Anthony Missen & Kevin Turner were speaking to Glenn Meads
Kith/Kin is at the Lowry on 30th September. For more details, please click here.