Janis Claxton (1964-2018) (UK/AUS) was a Choreographer, Movement Director, Teacher and Producer based in Edinburgh where she was Artistic Director of the award winning contemporary dance company Janis Claxton Dance and Founder/Director of SC²ENE Cultural Exchange Network.
Janis worked internationally for 30 years in numerous countries including UK, China, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Spain and Netherlands for internationally renowned dance and theatre organisations.
Janis created work for numerous dance and theatre companies, institutions, children’s theatre and community projects including for; Janis Claxton Dance, DANTZAZ (Basque), The National Dance Company of Wales, Scottish Opera, Made in Scotland Showcase, National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, BeijingDance/ LDTX, Beijing Song and Dance Company, London School of Contemporary Dance, National Youth Company of Dominican Republic, Lung Ha Theatre Company, Grid Iron, Beijing Dance Academy, Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival, Sichuan People’s Art Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Her last work POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) was presented as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase for the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the National Museum of Scotland. It was revived in 2018 and toured across the UK and internationally to Singapore International Arts Festival, Lincoln Centre Out of Doors Festival, Malmo Summerfest and Lund’s Sommarlund in Sweden, and to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, only the second Scottish company to receive the prestigious invitation.
Her choreography has been performed at leading venues internationally including; Tramway, Traverse Theatre, UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo, Gaungdong Modern Dance Festival, Almeida Dance Festival, Arnolfini, Royal Opera House2 Clore Studio, Dance House Wales Millennium Centre, National Museum of Scotland, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Staadtheatre Nuremberg, Performance Space Sydney, Beijing PLA Theatre, Xiangning Art Museum Shenzhen.
As well as performing internationally as an independent dancer, Janis Claxton worked with world-renowned companies including The One Extra Dance Theatre (Australia), Michael Parmenters’ Commotion Company (New Zealand) and in 1992 she was invited by Erick Hawkins to join his Erick Hawkins Dance Company (New York).
Janis Claxton’s producing experience ranges from small to large-scale performances, cultural events, workshops and training programs in several countries. Since 2003 Janis has produced and co-produced all of her company’s works in the UK and internationally including long residency programs in China with performances at Shanghai Festival, Guangdong Modern Dance Festival, Beijing Dance Festival/UK NOW, as well as large scale works that brought Chinese dancers to Scotland to perform for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and The Edinburgh International Science Festival.
In 2013 she created SC²ENE – Cultural Exchange Network designed for exchange and collaboration with a focus on linking UK and China’s creative and innovation sectors. With support from Federation of Scottish Theatres Producers Placement Bursary in 2014 Janis worked with Alison Friedman and Ping Pong Productions in Beijing co-producing Mark Morris Dance Group and Tim Robbins’ The Actors Gang at The National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing and also in Shenzhen. As an International Creative Entrepreneurs fellow Janis worked with ASK LAB and Xindanwei co-producing The Audi App Jam. She also produced Jangos Starr’s One Man Shoe on a Scotland-wide tour in 2016.
Janis Claxton’s awards for choreography include 2016 Creative Edinburgh Collaboration Award (with Pippa Murphy for POP-UP Duets), a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel Award and a Total Theatre Nomination (Edinburgh Festival 2008). In the same year she was declared number 33 on the list of 100 most influential people in Scotland (List Magazine) and one of the three artists chosen in Scotland by the Herald Newspaper ‘’Arts and Minds of 2008’’. In August 2018 Janis was awarded the Herald Archangel, a high honour given to those who have made a sustained contribution to Edinburgh’s world famous festivals. As a choreographer and dancer she received a multitude of highly acclaimed reviews. In 2013 she was a recipient of an International Creative Entrepreneurs Fellowship with a 3-month placement at China’s-first coworking space Xindanwei in Shanghai.
JANIS CLAXTON DANCE
Janis Claxton Dance founded in the UK in 2003, is a leading Scottish based contemporary dance company renowned for producing high quality innovative works including for touring in small-mid scale venues and site specific performance events for unique spaces. With a strong research base to the choreographic work, the company has collaborated with Edinburgh Zoo and Edinburgh International Science Festival on large scale works in the Edinburgh Zoo, Shanghai Expo and Scotland’s major galleries bringing exciting contemporary dance to tens of thousands of new audiences.
Janis Claxton Dance has received support from Creative Scotland, British Council, Confucius Institute for Scotland and the Scottish Government as well as other arts organizations in the UK.
After first visiting China in 2009 on a British Council CTC grant, Janis Claxton engaged with leading Chinese organizations and institutions including BeijingDance/LDTX, Beijing Dance Academy, British Council China, Guangdong Modern Festival, DaDao Live Art Festival, Beijing Song and Dance Company, Shanghai Expo, Sichuan Peoples Art Theatre, Shenzhen Culture Bureau, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Hong Kong’s Unlock Dancing Plaza as well as with several independent dancers. She choreographed for BeijingDance/LDTX for the Guangdong Modern Dance Festival (2010) and the Beijing Dance Festival (2012) as well as for Beijing Dance Academy (2011) and the Beijing Song and Dance Company (2011). In 2013 she was movement director and physical theatre trainer for Sichuan People’s Art Theater highly successful production of new writing I Breath which subsequently toured to the Avignon Festival. In 2015 she was Movement Director working with Gerry Mulgrew and Beijing Cicada Drama Company for the Beijing Literary Festival. Janis was written about in numerous magazines in China in both English and Chinese and her works have appeared on CCTV’s Culture Show.
As an arts educator Janis Claxton taught in major dance academies and conservatoires internationally including Beijing Dance Academy, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, London School of Contemporary Dance, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Dance Academy Arnhem, Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, Shenzhen University. She taught dance extensively in schools in Bristol (with Creative Partnerships) developing programs integrating dance with mathematics and literacy in primary schools. In Australia she created and directed a 3-month full time professional dance training programs with a staff of 8 teachers and musicians.
A vibrant public speaker Janis gave talks about her work at the world renowned research centre Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Institute for Advanced Study, the British Council Scotland, Beijing Dance Academy – 18th International Congress of Aesthetics, British Dance Editions, Creative Scotland, IDEO Shanghai, Scotland China Association, International Creative Entrepreneurs and Creative Edinburgh. Her writings were published in Animated (dance magazine) and creativityjournal.net
Janis Claxton worked personally with one of the great Modern Dance Masters Erick Hawkins and studied and taught his technique for over 25 years. In 1994, after seeing her dance, Erick Hawkins invited Janis Claxton to join his company in New York City. She was one of the leading exponents of his technique in Europe.
OTHER TRAINING, SKILLS
Janis Claxton began her dance training in Brisbane at the age of 3. She spent 15 years studying Classical Ballet and other forms and at the age of 17 she went into full time training at Queensland University of Technology graduating with a BA in Performing Arts (Contemporary Dance). Her continuous training included Chinese Martial Arts (Kung Fu), Contact Improvisation, Japanese Butoh Dance, Alexander Technique, Body Percussion, Yoga and Pilates of which she was a certified teacher.