I chatted with Josh Beamish over dinner at Atithi Indian Restaurant while eating a variety of tasty Bengali dishes. Josh is a Choreographer and dancer, Currently the Artistic Director of MOVE: the company, a Vancouver-based contemporary dance company that he founded in 2005 when he was 17.
Josh began dancing under the direction of his mother Loretta Lachner in Edmonton, Alberta and continued his training in Kelowna, BC. Outside of MOVE: the company, his works have recently been performed by Toronto Dance Theatre, Sylvain Brochu, Halifax Dance, Ballet Kelowna, Dance Saskatchewan, the Universities of Alberta and Missouri, Ballet Jorgen, the Bellingham Repertory Company and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance in Kansas City. He is the recipient of a 2009 City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award, a 2008 Globe and Mail Dance Award and of artistic residencies at the Dance Centre, Drive Dance Centre, the Shadbolt Centre, the Sunshine Coast Dance Society, the University of Alberta, the Norman Rothstein and Clarke Theatres, Odyssey Dance Theatre in Singapore, the Djerassi Program in San Franciso and the Banff Centre.
You travel the globe, what was one of your recent travel schedules like?
In the Fall of 2010, between August 29-October 6th I performed in Kansas city, Miami, Gibsons, Portugal, Montreal, Vancouver, Shanghai, and Beijing.
What got you in to dance?
My mom is a ballet teacher, I started when I was 2 years old and started choreographing when I was 12 and doing my own dances, but I improvised all the time, as a teenager I taught a lot, and I was choreographing for kids that were my own age and all of the dances for competitions.
What are you doing currently in Vancouver?
As you know I am taking part in the Dancing on the Edge Festival that begins in two days with Edge One on Friday July 8th which is a compilation performance with my MOVE: the company and our “Allemande” work.
The Summer Intensive that is on now at The Dance Centre, was it your idea to go to them or did they come to you?
There are not many venues in the city like this, they came to me.
When did you move and begin dance professionally?
When I was 16, I moved to Vancouver and went to Ballet school for a year, where I pursued ballet training at Pacific DanceArts and studied jazz, hip-hop, and other urban forms at Harbour Dance.
Where is your next work being presented?
My next work premieres in New York this summer. In the Fall 2011 I will premiere work for MOVE: the company at the Bangkok International Festival for Dance, at the opera house it is a world premiere, the fact that I have built up the creditability of this kind on the world stage is amazing.
Do you watch other dance works?
I am always watching other dance performances when I am not performing.
Is there a city you want to take your next work to which you have not been to yet?
I would like show work in London or Paris or Vienna.
Have you performed across Canada?
I have performed in every major city across Canada except for Ottawa, I would like to perform at the National Arts Centre one day.
What are your influences to creating new work?
Usually I hear a piece of music and that inspires me one way or another, then I create something, once I found the music I want the work to be associated with, and then mesh all that together.
What music stream are you more comfortable with for creating your works?
Classical music especially strings which are most interesting to me, piano is well.
Have any of your Vancouver friends gone to see your work in other cities you have performed?
Yes some that have either moved there or some that happened to be travelling.
The Edge Dance Fest has been on for 22 years, doing a festival of this size in Vancouver, what festivals have you done that were larger than this one around the world?
- 15th Anniversary of the International Ballet Festival in Miami
- The Quinzena de Danca Festival in Portugal
- WORLD EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, China, performing the Closing Gala of the Canadian Pavillion with Cirque du Soleil.
- Bangkok International Festival for Dance.
What is next for you?
In 2012 we will be more active, then build from there with more productions in 2013 and beyond.
Who does your PR outside of Vancouver?
We have a media agency that handles our branding and site, our board of directors has a communications director and I do a fair amount myself.
What does Allemande mean?
It is a work for six dancers that exists as a physical deconstruction of a Bach Cello suite and the accompanying social dances of the Baroque era. I mixed 3 cello suites for my production, in my work you only partially hear the Allemande, each dance is informed by the direction of the Bach cello suite, and each suite has a different style to it.
Have you done anything with film?
I did a film that was really raw once, perhaps we will make a documentary based on what goes on in our company currently behind the scenes.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a film maker if I wasn’t a choreographer and dancer. I am interested in imagery but not so interested in making films at least at this point in my life.