Janis Claxton (UK/AUS) is a Choreographer, Movement Director, Teacher and Producer based in Edinburgh where she is Artistic Director of the award winning contemporary dance company Janis Claxton Dance and Founder/Director of SC²ENE Cultural Exchange Network.
Janis is currently Choreographer in Residence with Creative Edinburgh.
An ambassador for cultural exchange, Janis has worked internationally for 30 years in numerous countries including UK, China, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan and Netherlands for internationally renowned dance and theatre organizations.
Janis has created 10 solo performances and 12 major works for her own company as well as choreographing for numerous dance and theatre companies, institutions, children’s theatre and community projects including; The National Dance Company of Wales, BeijingDance/ LDTX, Beijing Song and Dance Company, London School of Contemporary Dance, Lung Has Theatre Company, Grid Iron, Beijing Dance Academy, Sichuan People’s Art Theatre, Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, DanceHouse Dublin, Travelling Light Theatre Company and more.
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 has 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 is currently producing Jangos Starr’s One Man Shoe a new Children’s theater show touring Scotland in 2016.
Janis Claxton’s awards for choreography include winning 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’’. As a choreographer and dancer she has 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.
In 2008 Janis Claxton Dance won a Herald Angel Award for the groundbreaking site-specific installation Enclosure 44-Humans set inside an animal enclosure at the Edinburgh Zoo and in 2010 the company made their international debut when invited by the Scottish Government to perform at the Shanghai Expo including a special performance event for First Minister of Scotland. In 2012 the company returned to China to collaborate with Beijing’s foremost contemporary dance company BeijingDance/LDTX to open the prestigious Beijing Dance Festival. The event was part of UK NOW, the largest festival of UK arts in China. A CCTV interview with Janis Claxton and the Festival director Willy Tsao can be viewed here; from 3mins50secs.
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.
Since first visiting China in 2009 on a British Council CTC grant, Janis Claxton has 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 has 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 has been 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 has 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 has 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.
ACADEMIC WORK and PUBLIC SPEAKING
Janis is currently undertaking a Masters of Philosophy (Choreography) at the University of Edinburgh and as well as presenting her research papers in Beijing she was an invited guest speaker at the world renowned research centre Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Institute for Advanced Study and for the British Council Scotland. Janis was invited by Beijing Dance Academy as a guest speaker to the 18th International Congress of Aesthetics in August 2010 where she presented her paper on her choreographic research. A vibrant public speaker Janis given talks about her work for the British Council, British Dance Editions, Creative Scotland, IDEO Shanghai, Scotland China Association, International Creative Entrepreneurs and Creative Edinburgh. Her writings have been published in Animated (dance magazine) and creativityjournal.net
Janis Claxton has worked personally with one of the great Modern Dance Masters Erick Hawkins and has studied and taught his technique for over 25 years. Erick Hawkins, who was previously married to Martha Graham, was known in the US as the ‘poet of modern dance’ and his movement principles have influenced Western Modern Dance profoundly for the last 60 years. In 1994, after seeing her dance, Erick Hawkins invited Janis Claxton to join his company in New York City. Today she is one of the leading exponents of his technique in Europe.
OTHER TRAINING, SKILLS AND LANGUAGES
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 has included Chinese Martial Arts (Kung Fu), Contact Improvisation, Japanese Butoh Dance, Alexander Technique, Body Percussion, Yoga and Pilates of which she is a certified teacher.