Interview with Artistic Patron David Dawson
We are so delighted that you have agreed to be Artistic Patron of JBA. Could you tell us what led you to agree?
It is such an incredible honour to be asked to be the Artistic Patron of JBA and I am thrilled to be part of this exciting new adventure!
I had already known and worked with Alain Honorez during the time he was a principle dancer with the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and we have remained good friends ever since. We began discussing the possibilities of starting an intermediate dance group already some years ago, and I encouraged him to pursue his own vision of creating a new platform for dance and dancers in Antwerp. Over time I became someone he could talk to about how he could realise this goal, create the foundations for JBA as an organisation, and what would be its core purpose. When he asked me to become the Artistic Patron I was very surprised at first, but I felt that it could be a wonderful opportunity to become more closely involved in helping the dancers of today become the dancers, choreographers, teachers and directors of the future.
The JBA program will be the first of it’s kind in Belgium; why do you think it is needed in this country?
JBA is a place where young dancers can bridge the gap between their years of study before beginning a professional career, and progress further at a time when they need to continue gathering valuable experience and knowledge. I think this program enables young dancers to empower themselves without the added pressures of being in a company.
Junior Companies have become an important way of giving young dancers a secure way to grow in a more consistent environment, and these programs are already popular in most of the major dance capitals of the world. Antwerp has such an important dance heritage, past and present, and I think JBA can contribute very much to the continuity of its cultural history.
Your career has been spent working with the world’s foremost companies and best-known dancers; you have agreed to conduct a workshop for JBA - What attracts you about working with far less-experienced youngsters?
Being able to work with these young people means we can help them to prepare for what the life of a professional dancer can be. I believe in giving young dancers the opportunity of reaching and fulfilling their own potential, and helping them to achieve their goals and dreams by discovering their own artistic voice. When a young person chooses to dance, it is a very special passion that drives them, and this passion becomes a part of who they are, their identity, and I think we can help to nurture those passions. Dance is an extremely liberating art form - it is expressive, creative, emotional, and physical all at the same time, and it is with these qualities, in combination, that I believe we are able to develop as human beings.
If someday in the future, you were to create a work for JBA, what qualities would you be looking for in our young dancers?
Learning how to dance physically is the starting point of a journey that can lead to a life full of personal artistic expression, and I would be interested in helping the dancers of JBA to explore their own search for this sense of expression. When you can understand how to use technique, how to use knowledge, you can begin to create performance. I enjoy working with dancers who are creative, who enjoy musicality, and who have a sense of imagination, because these are the qualities that communicate most directly with our audiences. The work we do only becomes the work through the perspectives of the dancer, and their understanding of that - and the dancer becomes the dancer through the work.
It is this special sense of sharing common goals that is so beautiful about dance as an art form.