Caro Meets Dance & Physical Interview

Pedro Machado: Candoco’s ‘CounterActs’

By | Published on Thursday 1 October 2015

London based physically integrated dance company Candoco has been creating great work for many years now, so I was very happy to hear that they are bringing a wonderful sounding show to London audiences this week.


To find out more about this latest outing ‘CounterActs’, I spoke to artistic co-director Pedro Machado.

CM: CounterActs is a double bill. Can you tell us a little about each piece, and what themes they explore?
PM: The first piece ‘Beheld’, which we are premiering, is about some of the pleasures one may get when watching dance. Why is it fascinating? What connections can be perceived? It’s a piece about seeing, about awareness… but it’s also a piece about effort, about co-operation and it’s set to a captivating score by Nils Frahm… The second piece, ‘Let’s Talk About Dis’ deals with issues of preconceptions and identity in a clever and light-hearted way.

CM: There’s a different choreographer for each piece, isn’t there? Can you tell us a bit about them both?
PM: Alexander Whitley, who created ‘Beheld’, comes from a classical ballet background and Hetain Patel is originally a fine artist. They both have an amazing eye for detail and are very generous to their audiences. Alex enjoys movement and pushed the dancers to be very physical; Hetain asked the dancers to share something personal in a charming way that invites audiences to reflect about themselves.

CM: What made you decide to bring these two pieces together? Why are they a good fit?
PM: They counterbalance each other while showing different aspects and skills of our dancers. In one evening you see Candoco dancers dancing lots but also being themselves in an open, funny and poetic way. Ultimately both pieces are about seeing, about observing, about what we chose to filter with our eyes. In this way they also include the audience so both pieces are a meeting with the public.

CM: How did you come to be working with these particular choreographers?
PM: It’s been a long dating process…We’ve admired both of them for a while and kept following their work, seeing their pieces for their own companies. Then we invited them into the studio to try out some ideas and lead some open research. It’s important for us that there’s a mutual interest in working together.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the dancers involved? How did they all become involved in this project?
PM: All our seven dancers auditioned to join the company, they work full time and are involved in all the projects we do. We have dancers from Britain, France, Austria, Denmark and one of our newest dancers just moved from USA to be with us. They are very hardworking and ambitious but they also share a strong friendship. There’s plenty about them on our website, including photos and videos.

CM: Tell us about Candoco – what are the aims and ideals of the company?
PM: Candoco is one of the leading companies of disabled and non-disabled dancers. We believe that Dance, as an art form, is richer if it includes different bodies, different perspectives. We work hard to give disabled artists meaningful training and working opportunities. As a mixed repertory company we take risks and try to create unusual and different dance shows.

CM: Candoco has been producing dance shows since 1991 – have there been any stand out projects, experiences or shows over the years?
PM: There have been loads. We performed in the Beijing and London Olympics and Paralympic games, but also at Duckie in South London, and in many theatres around the UK. Early this year we presented a show called ‘The Show Must Go On’ with twenty performers to great public response, five star reviews and a nomination to a Theatre UK award. We are currently helping to set up dance companies in Armenia and Nigeria where perceptions of disability are very different to here in the UK.

‘CounterActs’ is on at Trinity Laban from 2-3 October before heading off on tour. See this page here for more info and tickets. 

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photo: Hugo Glendinning