Ali Clarke is a choreographer and director of
dance and circus, whose passion lies in creating immersive and interactive
performances that explore the interplay between the audience and performer. Her
work is grounded in the physical practices of contemporary dance, and she has
further expanded her exploration beyond disciplinary boundaries, gaining
extensive experience in contemporary circus, spatial design and performance
art. With a desire to re-imagine the role of contemporary dance in society Ali
began choreographing professional work in 2017 with her award-winning debut
performance It Didn’t Start With Us. Ali has received numerous accolades,
including a Next Generation Award (’22), two Arts and Disability Research
Awards ('21 & '23), and the Chasse Theater and Podium Bloos Culture Award
Ali is also the Artistic Director of the
international dance and circus company KNOT Kollektiv with whom she creates
work in the Netherlands and Germany. KNOT Kollektiv have been widely supported
by the Dutch Arts Council, TanzNetz Freiburg and Cafe Theater Festival Utrecht.
Further Ali performs with the Brussels based dance company Untamed Productions
with whom she has toured Europe, Mexico and Brazil.
Ali is a dramaturgic coach at the Lisbon based
professional dance studies, Performact, where she supports the choreographic
development of the students. She also offers partnering workshops and
contemporary technique classes for students of the course. Ali’s work branches
out from artistic work into the world of art production where she produces a
number of independent dance and circus artists across central Europe.
did you do with your Agility/Project award?
My recent Project Award (2022) funded the
development of my most recent artistic work 'What Is Not Ours To Carry', an
immersive contemporary dance and music performance which was supported by the
Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray. What Is Not Ours To Carry premiered in September
2023 in the Mermaid before a run at the Dublin Fringe Festival. The piece
explores the search for the self as a hazy and unclear experience by placing
the audience in the position of not viewing the work in HD. With their view
obscured by mesh material and haze, the work plays with our comfort levels with
seeing and being seen. Working with set designer Emma Fisher and light designer
Zia Bergin-Holly allowed me to build a unique and immersive set which held the
performance. I also had the chance to work with composer Ruben Monteiro on a
unique live score which drives the piece forward.
With my Agility Award (2023) I spent time
researching an area of the artistic process which has long fascinated me.
Together with my colleague Elena Kreusch, who joined me as an academic
consultant, and psychologist Nichola Crawford, I spent 6 months researching the
relationship between the artistic process and the mental health of the artist.
This research will culminate in the publication of an academic research paper
in December 2023 and a presentation of this research at the 'Circus and its
Others' conference in Colombia in 2024.
has receiving an award meant to you as an artist/for your career?
The chance to follow through on the creation
of What Is Not Ours To Carry was a huge chance for me to develop the work with
a team of incredibly established and talented creatives. Due to the immersive
nature of the work it required a full team with skillsets beyond my own and the
Project Awards allowed me to bring in a team who could not only bring my ideas
to life, but who could collaborate with me in the development and execution of
the concept. What Is Not Ours To Carry is an ambitious work with a large and
complex set design, alone this would have been impossible to execute.
As a result of the Project Award I was able to
premiere the work to a sold out audience and continue on to a Fringe Festival
run which earned the team a five star Irish Times review and nomination at the
Fringe Festival Awards. The support that the project award gave me made this
possible and has opened new doors in my career.
would you describe your creative process?
My creative process is usually guided by a
little voice reminding me to trust the process. To me the creative process
should be messy and unclear and full of twists and turns. That for me is why I
continue working in this way despite the difficult path. There is something
beautiful in that blurry mess where I am following intuition and gut response
which is very pure and feels like something I don't find often in today's
world. My creative process is deeply collaborative, I enjoy bouncing ideas off
of other artists and the public and building bigger and better plans by putting
our respective creative spirits together.
the best piece of advice you received as an emerging artist?
Create what is meaningful to you, your audience
will find you.
who has influenced your practice the most?
I think the most influential thing in my
practice has been a desire to build connection with and within the public
during a performance. From very early in my artistic journey I have felt driven
to share interaction with the audience and this has been a key element of every
artistic venture I have put myself into. I'm inspired by the many moments
shared with the audience as a performer and maker which feel intimate and