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Book your tickets for Epilogues - a UK dance premiere born out of #MeToo movement

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 February 2019

James Cousins Company, Epilogues, Within Her Eyes Photo Camilla Greenwell

James Cousins Company, Epilogues, Within Her Eyes Photo Camilla Greenwell

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DanceEast hosts a new series of duets inspired by the Time’s Up campaign. Our arts editor spoke to choreographer James Cousins about the need to represent real-life on stage.

James Cousins Company, Epilogues, Within Her Eyes, which is part of the UK premiere at the DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront Photo Camilla GreenwellJames Cousins Company, Epilogues, Within Her Eyes, which is part of the UK premiere at the DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront Photo Camilla Greenwell

Ten years ago the DanceHouse opened on the Ipswich Waterfront as DanceEast moved its base of operations from Northgate High School to this new purpose-built facility. The DanceHouse includes a state-of-the-art performance space which has played host to a number of premieres and newly commissioned works: the latest of which is Epilogues by former associate artist James Cousins.

Epilogues is a work which has been born out the Time’s Up and #MeToo movement.

Inspired by feelings and stories of isolation, Cousins has adapted one existing work Within Her Eyes to go with two new, as yet untitled, duets which look at important and highly personal moments in his life and the lives of his dancers. Each piece tells the story of a relationship – between lovers, friends, between sisters and family.

James Cousins Photo: Camilla GreenwellJames Cousins Photo: Camilla Greenwell

The first new piece is about powerful emotions but is told in an intimately formal way which, at times, is quite delicate in its performance. “It’s about two men who together are overcoming pressures from their respective cultures,” says James; “It combines personal stories from the two dancers Rhys Dennis and Georges Hann, and it explores the moments in life when a quiet look says it all.”

The second new work, performed by Jemima Brown and George Frampton, explores the relationship between two women dealing with the impending loss of a parent. Cousins says that the trigger for the piece was to challenge the stereotype of feuding females. Poet Sabrina Mahfouz, who collaborated on his 2016 show Rosalind, incorporates the dancers’ own stories into the accompanying text.

The original piece Within Her Eyes has been re-directed for dancers Rhys Dennis and long-time company member Chihiro Kawasaki and is an astonishingly physical work, which explores the feelings of loss and dependency, in which the female dancer never touches the ground.

The Jerwood DanceHouseThe Jerwood DanceHouse

“The duets are linked in a general way but they are telling three separate and very distinct stories,” James explains, “We have different relationships with different people all the time. They all happen simultaneously as friendships and relationships change and family members pass away. It’s a work which looks at the complexity of relationships as well as the joy.”

He is pleased to integrate Within Her Eyes into a much larger work and return it to the DanceHouse where it was developed and premiered in 2012. “The two new pieces are for two women and two men and I wanted to flip the expectations an audience might have as what women and men might be doing on stage in terms of performance. When men dance they are supposed to be very masculine and impressive, powerful and athletic and I really wanted to challenge that and make a comment about men connecting to their emotions – having their caring moments, tender moments while allowing the women to demonstrate their power and strength. I also wanted to show them supporting and helping one another.”

James maintains that his work is best when it is dealing with real life, telling stories drawn from his experiences and those of his dancers. “I prefer to produce work that people can connect with on an emotional level.”

James Cousins Company, Epilogues, which premieres at the DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront Photo Camilla GreenwellJames Cousins Company, Epilogues, which premieres at the DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront Photo Camilla Greenwell

An important part of the mix comes from the music which is written specifically for each piece and emerges from the same workshops and rehearsals that create the movement. “Everything happens simultaneously. We talk a lot about the atmosphere that we are trying to create. For me, it’s about creating a whole world, so the music is just as important as the costumes and the lighting. Everything has to serve the piece as a whole.”

Epilogues premieres at DanceEast on February 8 and 9 before embarking on a nationwide tour and receives its London premiere at The Place on March 6-8. For more information on Epilogues in Ipswich phone 01473 295230 or visit the website.

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