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Interview with Up-And-Coming Choreographer Jamie Neale

Blog contributor Jemma Wilson caught up with dancer and choreographer Jamie Neale to talk passion, dance, and artistic journey. Here's what he had to say.

Have you always wanted to be involved in dance and choreography?

Jamie Neale: My dancing passion started when I was younger as my family was involved with the musical arts. As I grew older my passion and knowledge for the arts grew stronger and began to look further into vocational training and the profession itself. Once I was able to attend college I left my hometown Plymouth to attend a 2 year musical theatre course at Liberatus Performing Arts based in Swindon, from there my choreographic voice began to show. As a child from what I can remember I was always creative with directing, producing my own school shows and family entertainment.

Where did you train and what was it like?

Jamie Neale: I trained at Liberatus Performing Arts for 2 years; from there I was awarded a DaDA at Doreen Bird College and then went on to pursue a deeper training in classical/contemporary dance and creative processes at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance. Over the years I have learnt a lot by training at various different colleges- it has defined my interests and my own choreographic voice of today. Training is tough and cruel but if you're intellectual with your training and have a determination for your craft you will do well.

Was there a natural transition into choreographing for you?

Jamie Neale: I don't know if there was a natural transition, I remember being able to choreograph steps and put them together. Of course over the years you begin to have a better understanding of your body and physical awareness of other people's bodies in the space. With the knowledge of how to use the space in the theatre as a piece of work I guess I could say something just clicked, but every day meeting new artists I am learning and focusing on new ways of making theatre. Music and people really inspire me to create new works.

Do you still perform?

Jamie Neale: I still do perform now and then but I feel dance doesn't stimulate me like choreography does at this point in time. Maybe it’s because I haven't found any piece of choreography at the moment I want to invest in. I think the choreographic path and new commissions I have coming up is interesting me too much to think about dancing. However, the productions I do want to invest in are Cats and Wicked before I finally hang up my dance shoes and solidly focus on choreography.

What is the hardest part of the rehearsal process, as both a dancer and a choreographer?

Jamie Neale: Getting your ideas across physically to the dancers. As a choreographer we have ideas in our brain of how we want the work to look and our job as creatives is to make and translate it to the bodies and minds of others to share and explore with us. For me it’s annoying when I can't explain with words what I mean but the image in my head is there- sometimes I wish I could paint what I'm seeing in that moment.

What is a day in the life of Jamie like?

Jamie Neale: Get up, have a coffee for sure!! Look at my planner (it’s my lifeline and without it I couldn't function, I have to write everything down in my planner and create todo lists). I go by my day-to-day schedule whether its teaching, choreographing for a project and then round my day up with emails and a glass of wine and to get into bed at 2/3am after all my emails and planning has been done. I feel for me at this age the time is now and I can sleep at 70/80 years old, amazing opportunities are coming my way and I am ready for the challenge and to do something creative with them. I have such a passion for creating theatre and I couldn't imagine not putting my full commitment into what I do.

What projects are you working on at the minute?

Jamie Neale: Associate Choreographer for the new musical production of “Snow Queen” at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton with choreographer Russell Smith.

Teaching a master class at Move it 2015 on Sunday 15th February.

Currently I am creative director/choreographer on a musical called "Rosa" with musical director Stephen King who is very giftedly talented friend of mine. Co-choreographer with choreographer Russell Smith (Choreographer of Ushers the musical) on a production called "Some Words".

I am making a short film with Smudge Production in collaboration with Laines Theatre Arts students. 

I've been commissioned to make a new piece of work for National Youth Ballet for 2015, which I'm very excited about the collaborations that will be going on with me and the composer.

I will be creating a piece of Mandy Ellen's Performing Arts for Move it 2015.

With my company directed by myself and co-choreographer Klevis Elmazaj, the company is called "Elm.Nea Ensemble" which recently we performed a piece of current work "Defiance" at the Burgos/New York Choreographic Competition in July 2014 and received 3rd place and the City award which is a prize that has been given to us to tour our work "Defiance" around 20 theatres in Spain 2015. The company has have some residency work at West London Dance to expand "Defiance" and start a new piece which we have been researching called "Human Metamorphosis"

There are some other commissions that I have been in discussion with but not confirmed as of yet but 2015 at the moment is going to be a busy year.

Do you have any advice for aspiring performers?

Jamie Neale: To keep supporting each other in your artistic journey, the more people you can inspire the better our industry will become. Keep asking questions to as many artists/choreographers you meet, knowledge is such an important part of our craft and in life, the more knowledge and questions you ask the more interesting you become as person and artist. The most famous quote which I keep close to me while creating is "Boring people make boring work!"

Another close to my heart is “Inspire yourself, great! Inspire others, even better!”

Interviewed by Jemma Wilson

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