Leviathan with James Wilton Dance

James Wilton graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School in 2009 and went on to form his company James Wilton Dance.

James’ work has toured to South Korea, China, USA, Dubai, India, German, Australia, Poland, Switzerland, Malta, Italy, Spain, France, Sweeden and Denmark. His most recent company work Last Man Standing toured to over 60 venues since its creation in 2014 and has been seen by over 15,000 people.

We spoke to company founder James Wilton about his latest work Leviathan which is coming to the Wyvern Theatre on Tue 11 October.

Leviathan is the epic re-imagining of Herman Melville’s seminal novel, Moby Dick. Leviathan follows Ahab, a ship captain hell-bent on capturing the white whale, Moby Dick; a beast as vast and as dangerous as the sea itself, yet serene and beautiful beyond all imagining. Ahab’s crew are drawn into the unhinged charisma of this madman, blindly following him on his perilous adventure towards almost certain destruction, all dreaming to rule the world, to be the master of their destiny’s, to be more powerful than God.

Leviathan has been commissioned by The Barbican Theatre, Plymouth University, Plymouth Culture & Ocean City Festival, Swindon Dance, The Place, Blackpool Grand, Barnsley Civic, The Gulbenkia and BBC Performing Arts Fund, with support from Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts.


Hi James, thank you very much for your time. How did you get started in dance, and at what age?

I started to dance at 15, I chose it as an option for my GCSE’s. Things really started to move with I joined Cornwall Youth Dance Company and then I decided I wanted to pursure it as a career.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner

You trained as a dancer, what makes you want to choregraph as opposed to performing other people’s work?

Even when I started at 15, I was interested in choregraphy more than just performing. I love the challenge of taking an idea that starts just as a seed of a thought and growing it in to a piece of art. I think what I prefer about choregraphy is that you start right at the genesis of the idea and see it through until the end whereas dancers usually come on board later on in the process.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner

What are the signature trademarks in your choregraphic style and do they differ from your peers, if so – how?

I think the key siganatures are the really raw, dynamic and almost aggressive movement qualitly as well as the introverted nature of the performance. I think the super-human physicalitly is what drives the work and what sets it apart from my peers. I also think that the martial arts / sport influence in the work makes it quite un – dance like, whilst still remaining deeply physical.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner

Your work often inclues a particular style of music. What drives you to that?

I have to work to music that I connect with on a deeper level. I have listened to alternative / progressive rock all of my life and have a strong connection with it. With that said I listen to a really broad range of music, from classical to folk to German industrial music.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner

When recruiting dancers, what skills or style do you look for?

I think ability to use the floor and partner – work skills are essential as well as an ability to be really clear with movement and intention. I think dancers I work with also have a desire to get underneath the skin of the movement and feel the intention of the movement.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner

What approach do you take when making work? What point do you start from?

I always begin from a philosophical or political starting point. From there I like to work quite indepedently in growing the idea in to the finished product. I always have a physicial goal I want to achieve but don’t always know exactly what it should look like. I think that is where the dancers come in, helping me realise exactly how it should look and what the work should “feel like”.


Photography: Werner Kmetitsch and Steve Tanner


Leviathan is at the Wyvern Theatre on Tue 11 October.

For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/Leviathan16

Follow James Wilton Dance on Facebook & Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s