Culture Club

Issue 103

Eliot Smith - Founder and creative director of one of the region's leading contemporary dance companies - Eliot Smith Dance.

Eliot’s latest programme are two distinct and captivating dance works that are filled with passion and commitment. In spring and summer 2024, Eliot Smith Dance (ESD) embraces the past and future with the premiere of Paul Taylor’s ‘DUET’ from 1964, alongside Eliot Smith’s latest work – ‘HUMAN’.

Here Eliot tells us what he enjoys from the world of culture.

Who is your favourite author and why?

I’m dyslexic and I find reading very difficult. However, I do like reading all things about dance history, spirituality, and ancient history, books with images. I recently read Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ which inspired me to choreograph ‘The Three Jolly Ghosts of Christmas’ at Eliot Smith Dance.

What would be your three Desert Island Discs?

That’s a difficult one because I love all genres of music. If I had to choose three now (bearing in mind it might change depending on my mood) I would say, La Isla Bonita by Madonna, Been Thinking by Tyla, and Alleluia. Vidimus Stellam From the vaults of Westminster Cathedral by Westminster Cathedral Choir & Martin Baker.

Who is your favourite film star and why?

Again, this is a tricky one, so many! I would say Mel Gibson because of his various roles he has played from Braveheart to Lethal Weapon as well as the gift to direct films.

What are your top three films?

Braveheart: although loosely based on the story of 13th-century Scottish leader William Wallace, it’s still an epic.

House of Flying Daggers: love, culture, trust, dancing, beauty, it has it all.

Hocus Pocus: I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of hocus pocus!

Which poem left a lasting impression on you?

Not a poem, but a quote:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham

Martha Graham was and still is a huge inspiration in my career. She founded the Martha Graham School in New York City in 1926 where I was honoured to attend to learn from some of the best dance teachers in the world. She revolutionised dance and her contribution to the art is immense.

What box sets have you enjoyed?

Band of Brothers, The Crown, The Last Kingdom.

Who is your favourite artist or performer?

Obviously, Martha Graham and many are surprised that my other favourite is, Ken Dodd.

What is your favourite venue?

Royal Albert Hall has been a top favourite since I was young. It’s like a modern-day Colosseum. Can I be cheeky and add a few more, Sadlers Wells – the powerhouse for dance, and our very own Newcastle Theatre Royal and Tyne Theatre & Opera House. I would also have to add Jacob’s Pillow.

Which musical instrument do you particularly enjoy?

I love percussion, I usually play djembe when teaching contemporary dance, although not the best haha! But it gives us a beat.

From the world of Arts and Culture who would be your ideal dinner party guests?

I would have to say, Martha Graham, Ken Dodd, Robin Howard, and Jesus for a few miracles.

To find out more:

0191 269 55 79 ext 127

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