Lewys Holt - Hull Dance Development Award 2022/23

Hi, my name is Lewys Holt. I am the recipient of this year’s Hull Dance Development Award. I’m over the moon that Keyna and the team at Hull Dance connected with my proposal for a new dance piece.

A bit about me

I am from Scarborough, originally born in Mold in North Wales but after a short stint there and a short stint in Sydney, Australia I was settled into Scarborough by around age 5. My parents both taught on the dance course at University College Scarborough through my upbringing and latterly my mum has been teaching at the University of Leeds on the theatre course and my dad taught for several years on the theatre course at the University of Hull, Scarborough and Hull campuses.

I never became familiar with Hull despite being so close but I’m eager to connect with Hull Dance and Hull now. I am aware that there is a vibrant dance scene in Hull and I can’t wait to find out more about it.

I started dancing in 2010 at De Montfort University in Leicester and since then I have presented my choreography at venues across the UK including Summerhall (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), The Place (London) and Yorkshire Dance (Leeds). I have received ACE funding to make my work as well as commissions, including making a responsive performance for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th Anniversary Exhibition curated by Ryan Gander.

I have worked internationally as a dancer with artists including Tino Sehgal, Simone Mousset, Sally Marie, New Art Club, Rosemary Lee and Christopher Owen

I make work that centres the performer as an empowered individual, showcasing their personality and vulnerabilities. My score-based choreographies combine improvisation with subtle wit and formal experimentation, pushing the boundaries of disciplines to make innovative performances, using the act of dancing as an extension of the self.

A bit about my project

The piece I am making with the Hull Dance Development Award programme is a dance piece for 4 dancers, myself included who will, in turn, read aloud a text that attempts to track the entire history of the planet. This text will be generated by the cast and members of the public through workshops in collaboration with the poet and playwright Zia Ahmed (as heard on BBC radio 6 music). These workshops will also guide participants through movement explorations to find their own movement languages.

The text will embrace the surreal fictions, multiple perspectives and gaps in time and space that will inevitably arise from both the insurmountable enormity of the task, and a working method that accepts half-remembered knowledge and prioritises the creative act of writing above historical accuracy or comprehensiveness.

Alongside this practice of writing we will develop scores for movement which denote textures, spatial pathways, bodily states and more. These scores will form the basis of a practice of improvisation which will be central to the piece.

The staging of the work will be minimal, yet striking – one person reads the text into a microphone whilst the rest of the group is in the space engaging in the choreography that we have worked with.

I’m so excited to lead my first workshop in Hull, in October, more information to follow. I look forward to seeing you there or meeting you somewhere else in Hull!

Picture of Lewys Holt
Lewys Holt

Artist, August 2022