Meet the Associate Artists: Luke Pell

Meet the Associate Artists: Luke Pell

Luke Pell is one of our Associate Artists at Dance Base and is an interdisciplinary artist living in Scotland.
He is a maker, curator and dramaturg who collaborates with artists and organisations, imagining alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse.

He is fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape.

1. How does being an Associate Artist at Dance Base benefit you?
There are a number of projects I’m keen to realise over the next ten years or so and the Associateship offers a complimentary frame through which to really seed some of those emergent ideas and be in ongoing critical discourse about practice with Bush Hartshorn.

2. What are you currently rooted in, or working towards?
Since beginning the Associateship we’ve been looking at my interests in the relationship between poetry and choreography; how and where dance meets with other worlds; what it is to be an interdisciplinary artist - interested in the choreography of people, place and thought and; how I’m always exploring that in different modes, as a maker, curator and dramaturg.

3. Are you currently working on a body of work, or research project?
Over the next year I hope to further develop In the Ink Dark - the dance and poetry project we made last year - for some new places in Scotland. I’m also doing early research for new projects that speak to this thing of where dance meets with other worlds:

  • The Wait of Mountains - a duet with Janice Parker
  • Selkie Was A Sea Witch – with Kitty Fedorec
  • Lost Botanists - a series of choreographic portraits of people, plants and gardens
  • Doing it Differently - a series of gatherings, think and do-tanks with other artists

4. What themes do you explore in your practice?
A lot of my work including In the Ink Dark has been research into re-imagining loss, exploring transformation and change. With that project the dancers and I were working very specifically with the relationship between memory and materiality.

The Wait of Mountains will continue with related themes and begin to engage with geo-poetics. Poetry, folklore, ritual, magic, queerness, otherness and whose stories get told, by who and how, are always recurring things in my work.

5. Where do you draw inspiration from?
The world around me - the very different worlds, realities and communities I inhabit and pass through. The people I talk with, walk with, move with and witness in the pub, the club, the park, the library, the post office, the local shop, on the side of a mountain, at shore, at seminars and conferences, performances, happenings.

I read and walk a lot. 

The two go hand in hand for me, most of my ideas come out of long periods of reading over years, becoming fascinated by the detail of a thing, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape.

6. What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on, or been a part of?
Eeeeek - I’m really not one for favourites! So I’m not going to say just one thing…

In the last few years… I was really proud of In the Ink Dark. I was really moved by the artists we worked with and the people and places it brought together in Edinburgh and Leith.

Similarly I felt very privileged to be invited to curate and host The Talking Place as part of Fevered Sleep’s Men and Girls Dance. To work as dramaturg for Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis’s The Way You Look (at me) Tonight and Robert Softley Gale’s Purposeless Movements for Birds of Paradise, alongside working more and more closely as dramaturg and core collaborator with Janice Parker

I so value the opportunity to have worked with and learnt from them, their politics, their innovation, alternative aesthetics, their commitment to the artistry of diversity, and the visibility they bring to different voices and ways of being in the world.

7. What was the last performance that moved or inspired you?
I just came back from American Realness, I’m still reflecting on things I heard and felt in Marissa Perel’s (Do Not) Despair Solo. Perel touched on really pertinent concerns to do with what it is to give and receive care, what makes that more or less possible, deeply embedded hierarchies of privilege, bias and exclusion and what it is to love and how that and our capacities to do so are always in flux.

8. What are you currently listening to?
Music: Ane Brun, Perfume Genius, Fever Ray, My Brightest Diamond, Karine Polwart, June Tabor, Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Podcasts: from On Being and New York Public Library

9. Describe your practice in 5 words:
Choreography, poetry, people, place, thought

10. Do you have any upcoming events / work that you’re involved with?

  • I’m Choreographer in Residence at this years StAnza Festival 18, taking part in some public conversations and on street impromptu performances in March in St. Andrews

  • I’m also Guest Dramaturg this year as part of South East Dance’s Dramaturg in Residence programme, part of which Lou Cope and I will be releasing a series of podcasts on The Red Line about our work as dramaturg and the artists and projects we work with engaged in dramaturgical thinking

  • Similarly, Claire Cunningham has just released the Guide Gods Digital Collection a series of podcasts curated by artist Jak Soroka that explores in detail some of the conversations and perspectives unearthed in Claire’s Guide Gods Projects for which I am an advisor.

Read more about our Associate Artist programme, and find out about Luke's work, by visiting his website here: 

Credit: Brian Hartley

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