Interview with Andrea Walker, Artistic Director of 201 Dance Company

"You could burn down in flames, or your life could change forever. Either way, it’ll be a crazy ride you’ll never forget."

Interview with Andrea Walker, Artistic Director of 201 Dance Company

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi! My names Andrea Walker, Im the Artistic Director of 201 Dance Company, and Directorand Choreographer of 201s latest production: Sad Book

How would you describe your show?

Sad Book” is an adaptation of Michael Rosens award-winning novel. It tells Michaelspersonal journey of 065a8d1e7fa97808101744d7f1105201d313692f.jpgAndrea Walker/Providedlosing his son, and all the complex emotions that come with it. Sadnesshas so many different faces, and weve explored this through a mix of dance, animation andoriginal music. Its a show that is very meaningful to us, its been in development for over 5years. Were confident it will speak to a lot of peoples own experiences of mental-health andsadness, and were so honoured that Michael agreed for us to adapt such a sensitive andimportant book.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

The Edinburgh Fringe is where dreams are made! Premiering 201s first ever show -Smother” - at the Fringe back in 2015 launched the company and gave us a future. Wewouldnt be here today with a brand-new show if it wasnt for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

Id say the pure scale of it and the excitement surrounding how many different artists decideto showcase their talents here. There is so much excellent work to watch. Youlloften findyourself heading to a show with nothing more than a random recommendation fromsomeone off the street. Yet, that show could turn out to be the most incredible thing youveever seen.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I’m very inspired by Britney Spears and the early 2000s MTV era. I entered the industry withthe goal of dancing in music videos and tours behind my favourite artists. Eventually, thatevolved into me choreographing and creating my own work, with those movement influencesstill very present in what I create.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career? 

I grew up in Italy and my dad is a very musical person, so Im grateful that I was exposed to art from a very early age. It wasnt until I was 12/13 though watching MTVs TRL that something really clicked and I knew I wanted dance to be my future.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Iwas always very interested in creating shows! When I was 7, I remember getting togetherwith my brother and cousins to write a script and put together a whole theatrical production(term used very loosely here).

If you didnt have your current job, what would you probably be doing?A writer! Writing has always been a big passion of mine.

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with adifferent mentality now?

Absolutely. Because of Covid-19, we had to massively rethink how we could create andrehearse “Sad Book” in a way that was safe for everyone involved. The production wasdelayed by almost 3 years because of it. We’ve had to overcome so many hurdles to get“Sad Book” on the stage, so I think our mentality and the way we approach creating work isstronger for it.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Not what I was expecting.

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from cancel culture?

Very good question! 201 Dance is a queer led company and as such we advocate forinclusivity and acceptance across the board. I suppose I subscribe to always ‘punching up’rather than down. I don’t enjoy work that goes out of its way to be unnecessarily hurtful.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick andwhy?

Britney Spears. Shes been a huge influence on my career, so I would love the chance towork with her, or - with her consent - give her remarkable life the 201 treatment” and turn itinto a beautiful, meaningful show.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

DO IT! You could burn down in flames, or your life could change forever. Either way, it’ll be acrazy ride you’ll never forget.

When and where can people see your show?

You can catch Sad Book” at Zoo Main House, every day from the 22nd to the 28th ofAugust, 6:30pm.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @201DanceCompany. You can alsocheck-out more about “Sad Book” and our other work on our website:www.201dancecompany.com

Header Image Credit: Provided

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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