Young Artists Feedback Forum: interview with choreographer Charis Taplin

Our Young Artists Feedback Forum is coming up soon! In the run up to the event on Sunday 5th, I wanted to talk some more to the choreographers who will be showing works in progress, about the ideas in the works and the process of working on them.

The first in the series of interviews is with choreographer Charis Taplin, on her work in progress Pointy Shoes Make Me Cry.

In your application for the Young Artists Feedback Forum (YAFF), you mentioned three choreographers which you reference in this work – Pina Bausch, Yvonne Rainer, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. How do you negotiate their influence on your work, has it been easy or difficult to find your own way of moving? And is it important to you that people get the references?

I’d say the choreographers who I’ve been inspired by have definitely influenced my own way of moving. However I’ve tried to reflect the concepts behind their choreography rather than the actual choreography itself- for example I’m using pedestrian movement and elements of dance theatre. These are three choreographers I admire so much in general, so it is really hard not to imitate, and to come up with my own ideas rather than just translating theirs’. As for whether it’s necessary for the audience to understand the influences, again it’s a balance- I want them to see the concepts and styles but hopefully they won’t they feel they’ve watched the choreography before.

How do you feel about these practitioners’ representations of gender?

I think gender performance is key to Bausch’s work, both the process behind it and the exhaustion produced by it (I also feel this sense of exhaustion from the constant facade and contouring of behaviour is at the heart of Rosas danst Rosas.) The exploration of gender and gender performance in Rainer’s work really fascinates me. It would be easy to say that because Rainer is opting for neutrality in her performance she’s opting for gender neutrality, but this is part of the huge debate over whether gender neutrality is really achievable, or whether it’s just another performance subverting a pre-existing binary.

Was there a specific personal experience that led you to want to make this piece?

A lot of the piece isn’t influenced by specific experiences, but by patterns I’ve spotted in my life to do with being a dancer, being gay, watching my body and my ways of taking up space changing alongside my training in contemporary and classical technique.  More specific experiences would be when I read about a trans guy who said he felt most validated in his gender not when he passes successfully or wears men’s clothes, but when he’s shopping in the supermarket-  just existing. That was a real breakthrough moment in my thinking. Seeing my first live drag act was also very inspiring. I think drag performance has a sense of total embodiment and transformation that all performers- especially dancers- aspire to.


Thank you to Charis for sharing her thoughts! <3  Questions by Katharina Joy Book.

Join us this Sunday at Siobhan Davies Dance London to see and feedback on exciting new works by selected young choreographers. From 5-730PM, 3 pounds cash on the door, and the bar will be open.