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Dance Umbrella: Tony Adigun Interview

13 October 2015 | Alice Westoby

Dance Umbrella, the capital’s annual dance festival, bursts across London’s arts venues each autumn with an exciting programme of diverse performances. This year’s line up includes The Factory, a ‘festival in a festival’, a night of performances programmed by dancer and choreographer Tony Adigun. We had a chat with him to find out what to expect from this one off evening, which is taking place at Shoreditch’s Village Underground on Monday 26th October.

London Calling: As part of this year’s Dance Umbrella festival, you’re going to be programming your own evening of work, The Factory, at Village Underground – can you tell us a bit about what to expect?

Tony Adigun: Expect the unexpected! My mantra is to innovate and never replicate so I want to present work in a different way. The main ethos is that it is more of a club like experience and music is the energy of the night.

LC: How long has it taken to programme this evening of work?

TA: The hardest thing is to get the combination of artists right. My passion is that I am able to programme other artists' work that I personally enjoy watching, because it is innovative or it challenges the audience, or I have seen their work and wanted to present it in a different way. So it has taken a long time because I don't want to bring in pieces and plonk them in to a space but make sure the mixture and running order works.

LC: It sounds like it won’t just feature dance performances, what else will be happening across the evening?

TA: I am known as a choreographer but my first love is music, which is my main passion, even before dance. I am very inspired by fashion, film and poetry too, so I am trying to bring all these elements in across the night.

LC: Village Underground isn’t a conventional dance venue, how has it been to produce a night here?

TA: For me it has been easy because it is not a conventional dance venue. As a choreographer I create a lot of venue specific and site-specific work, and this is a bit of both. But because it is a bit unconventional, it has been easy in that I wanted to produce dance in an unconventional way.

LC: You are also Work Place Artist at The Place as well as Creative Director for Sky One’s Got To Dance - do you enjoy working in such a diverse way?

TA: I love it! I think it is what keeps me energised. I get bored really easily so I love working across different fields. I feel artists can be quite secular in the way they work, so I always want to infuse my work with influences from these various fields.

LC: Your own company, Avant Garde Dance, will be part of the evening of work; can tell us a bit more about them?

TA: I feel we were one of the companies that pushed the amalgamation of hip hop and contemporary dance and we are going to continue trying to do that, with some new work and some previous work, challenging the audience and making them feel something. I think that's the job of the dance company, to feel something; whatever that feeling may be. Next year is the 15th anniversary of the company and we very much want to push our identity – our music, our costumes, our styles.

LC: Apparently there are going to be some surprise guests on the night, can you give us any clues as to who they might be?

TA: I can't, otherwise they won't be surprises!

LC: You’ve worked a lot with young people and community dance projects throughout your career, how important do you think it is to support young dancers?

TA: I think it’s integral. As dance artists, we underestimate the influence we can have on the younger generation. I remember how inspired I was by the people I went to see when I was young and how that pushed my career. I remember seeing Bounce at The Roundhouse and I remember sitting outside the theatre in silence, just thinking that I didn't even know that existed. If I can make one young dancer aware of something they hadn't been exposed to, and to help shape their career, I think that is our responsibility to influence the new tide of dance makers.

LC: Are you going to catch any other of the performances that are part of this year’s Dance Umbrella?

TA: As long as it’s after The Factory! I definitely want to see Dan Canham because it is unconventional and site specific and that appeals to me.

Don’t miss The Factory and the rest of the Dance Umbrella programme, which is taking place London-wide this month – for more information and tickets visit the website.

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