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A Conversation With... James Wilton

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James Wilton, Choreographer, Artistic Director and Producer of James Wilton Dance, describes his inspiration for his explosive and emotional new show: The Storm.

What is The Storm about?

The Storm is essentially about how we process emotions and happiness. It occurred to me that there are many parallels between weather and psychology. For example, the word tempestuous can mean either an overwhelming emotion, or a storm. Before a hurricane there is what is referred to as a depression. When people are sad others say “it will all blow over”. You can’t see wind but can see how it changes objects, and you can’t see emotions but can see how they change people. I also likened the world to a storm. We are surrounded by this turbulent, challenging world, where danger, injustice and suffering are all around us. In this world how can we manage to remain happy? How can we not get swept up in the world around us and how can we be the quiet, calm eye of the storm?

When did you first have the idea?

I am a generally very happy person, and I’ve always wondered why. In 2016, shortly after creating Leviathan, I had a term of relative unhappiness, where I was swept up into some of the problematic things around me. At this point it occurred to me how important and how beautiful happiness is, and how the world would be a much better place if people understood emotions and complex psychology more deeply.

How is it different from your other shows?

We’re going bigger, faster and more fierce than ever with The Storm, but we’re going to be contrasting that with more subtlety, texture and softness than ever as well. As well as the earthy physicality we usually bring to the table, there will also be a greater sense of line and shape. Of course, we’re not going to be going too classical, however we are adding some elements from those techniques in order to push our physicality somewhere new.

What does Dr. David Belin, lecturer in Behavioural Neuroscience at Cambridge University, add to the piece?

I wanted to make sure that the work had a foundation in genuine science. I think so often people think they understand psychology, however we really don’t. Dr. Belin is a world expert in his field, with over 50 peer reviewed publications, and has taught me a great deal about the human mind. The most interesting thing being about dysregulation, and how people attribute the wrong feelings to the wrong emotion.

What excites you about the music of Amarok the composer?

In 2017 Amarok, aka Michal Wojtwas, released an album called Hunt, which received many nominations for prog-rock album of the year. It was through a “top 30 of the year” list that I discovered his work and I’ve been hooked ever since. I used three tracks off of his album for my creation Hold On for Theater Münster, and once I saw how well the music gelled with my choreography, I knew that I had to get him to write something especially for The Storm. There is just so much power and depth in the music that Michal writes, and it is emotive in some indescribable, other-worldly way.

Finally, what can audiences expect?

In short, to be blown away by the physicality, the storytelling and the raw emotion.


Buy your tickets for The Storm at Warwick Arts Centre on Tue 26 – Thu 28 Feb here.

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