Joshua Beamish is a rising contemporary choreographer who is about to premiere (NY) a full length work at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. But what about off stage? Sometimes we forget our favorites artists are people too! What do they do in their free time? Who inspires them? How do they stay sane when they are always on-the-go and surrounded by crowds? New York Rag got personal with Joshua and asked him all that and more!
NY Rag: While in New York, on your limited time off, where do you spend your time? What do you enjoy doing?
JB: I drink a lot of coffee, so you’ll find me most often at Grumpy Grand Central or at the Hungry Ghost by BAM. I also eat a lot of Mexican food, mainly Mole, El Temarario and Rosa Mexicano. I would go to the cinemas every day, if I had the time. There’s nothing I love to do more. When I have time, I try to maximize my Equinox membership, but these days it’s hard to be there as much as I’d like to be.
NY Rag: You’re always traveling as a dancer and choreographer. How do you stay healthy (mind and body) while you’re always on the go, and lack a set routine?
JB: I find this very difficult. Every time I get into healthy habits, they’re upset by another airport or a change in housing situation. I haven’t really cooked in three years. Luckily my gym has a location in most places I go, but staying focused and healthy is a constant struggle. For my mind, I try to see close friends who I trust in each city I go. I think it helps to be around people that you feel really know you and actually care about you. I need that grounding or I would lose my mind.
NY Rag: Do you have a favorite city or venue to dance?
JB: My favourite dance city is NYC. The dance audiences and supporters here really care about dance in a way that is uniquely special to this place. I think that in general, I prefer the work that is created in Canada and Europe but I like the dancers and audiences in America. I love The Royal Opera House in London and I love BAM in NYC. Those would be my top venues, but The Joyce will always be very special to me and I love it’s intimacy.
NY Rag: What dancers inspire you? Who are your choreography heroes?
JB: I like dancers who are boldly themselves yet humble enough to truly accept my vocabulary and direction. I want to work with people who bring something new out in me, but I still want to be able to see that work is mine.
I am most consistently intrigued by the work of Wayne McGregor, as far as living choreographers go.
NY Rag: Any tips for aspiring dancers who come to NYC?
JB: It’s really competitive and hard in this city and lots of choreographers don’t pay dancers, or don’t pay them well enough for their talent. My best advice is to show a choreographer that you care about their work and aren’t just looking for any job. I’m always more inclined to want to work with a dancer who both comes to my class and my show, not just one or the other.
NY Rag: You have an upcoming show in Brooklyn, tell us about it.
JB: Coming up is our NY premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, October 11 – 15, 2017. I’ve created a new full-length work entitled Saudade which features six outstanding male dancers whose collective credits include leading companies such as Nederlands Dans Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Sasha Waltz & Guests, and La La La Human Steps.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no direct English language translation and I came across it when I was looking to title the piece and had no idea what I was making. For me it directly reflected the way dancing exists – it is abstract, your experience of watching a dance piece would be complete different from mine, because generally dance as a language is less literal and therefore you are projecting your own experience onto it (to a greater degree than something like watching a movie in a language that the whole audience understands). I liked that the word is as abstract to the English language as dance is because saudade has no direct translation in English. The language that I write and speak in, has no single composite for this incredibly complex state of emotional being, so I can only attempt to communicate it through physicality.
The word describes a deep state of melancholic longing for something that may never have happened, for something that you’ve lost and can’t get back, or something that you desire that you will never receive. It is not attached to a particular state of time, so the word can evoke past, present or future. It’s this idea that you can long for things that you don’t even know you want yet. It’s like this weight and this feeling that you carry around with you that is relative to something… an emptiness of some sort.