Q&A with Anthony Missen from Company Chameleon

We find out from Company Chameleon co-director Anthony Missen more about 10, the evolution of the company and the process of putting a show together.

For anyone unfamiliar with the work of Company Chameleon, what work does the company make?

We make dance-theatre work that draws on a multitude of dance and movement styles- from Contemporary techniques to Classical, what people might refer to as Urban styles and different martial art techniques - whatever language, style or form best represents the idea.

We look at some very big questions and themes; previously we have made works exploring mental illness and asking the question 'what does it mean to be a man?' for example.

The beauty, honesty and uniqueness of how we do this is the reason our work tours all over the world. It’s inventive, powerful, physically stunning, and layered. We tell stories in a way that people can relate to and we make work with which audiences go on a journey, feel something, and take something away with them for way beyond the time they sit (or stand!) watching.

How has the company evolved since its inception?

The company grew from myself and Kevin Turner making duet works for stage. We had the idea aged 14 and 10 respectively having met at a youth dance theatre. We now tour all over the world, in a huge variety of contexts, on stages, outdoors, in prisons, galleries, and libraries. We’ve built a great international profile, and an incredible, passionate and dedicated team who care deeply about what dance can be and do.

We invest a lot of time and energy in developing and delivering participatory programmes, from working in Pupil Referral Units in Manchester to cultivating the next generation of dancers via our youth company, from working with Bedouin communities in the desert in Israel to young offenders in South Africa.

The company is celebrated as an important cultural asset, recognised and supported by our city (Manchester) and as an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation. It’s evolved into something that we dreamed about as kids, and has gone way beyond that. We now have our own building, and dancers from all over the world asking to be part of what we do.

What’s you process for putting a show together? What is the starting point?

The process is always different, but the starting point is always the same - the idea. If you don’t feel the need to say something about an issue or idea then it probably doesn’t mean that much to you and we always want to make work that means something to us.

Works for stage often have a two-year incubation in our minds and notebooks, researching topics from a whole variety of angles to get a deeper understanding of them before we set foot in the studio to create.

What do you enjoy most about touring?

Meeting new people, discovering new places, cultures and customs, ideas and perspectives.

I love seeing how people are affected by what we do. I won’t lie, I do particularly enjoy flying off to sunny countries on tour!

What can audiences expect from the show?

Variety, movement that you won’t have seen before, incredible performers, to be taken on a journey, catharsis. To move back and forward in your seat as you follow a roller coaster of ideas and emotions.

What are you most looking forward to about returning to Newbury?

Actually to walking around, it’s a beautiful place!

10 Presented by Company Chameleon will be at the Corn Exchange on Thursday 8 Nov. Find out more.