Dance performer, dance producer, dance comedian? Lewys Holt has been performing “in the crevices of the industry” since he graduated from his De Montfort University dance degree in 2013. His previous work includes Of or At a Fairly Low Temperature, a solo dance comedy exploring what it means to be cool and the anxiety and insecurity that comes with trying to be.
Now Holt is working on a duo of shows. The first, Footnotes, is “essentially a parody of an academic lecture”, a dense, impenetrable and verbose lecture delivered with comedic smugness that gets (sometimes violently, sometimes subtly) derailed by footnotes, and includes phrases of dance, personable text, casual chatting and occasional flirting with the audience. These departures sometimes reveal moments of insecurity, the raw reality behind the opaque main text.
There’s a certainly a unique movement style to Holt’s physicality and (often improvised) choreography – there’s a confidence and sincerity to the flourishes and sweeps often contrasted with subtle twitches and shifts in direction.
“I like that kind of dance where it’s precise, but it’s a bit raw”, Holt confesses, and it’s certainly a rawness of motion we experience in Phrases, the second piece in this pairing. A wealth of improvised dance, projected stream of consciousness text and a bespoke soundtrack created by Holt all make up the core elements of this second show. In Holt’s words, “Phrases is a bit more of a confusing ball game…just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks…coupling things together, storytelling, dancing, projection.”
There’s also a reoccurring, almost psychotically pragmatic, deconstruction of the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.
“So it’s this story about my abstract relationship with the doctor,” he explains, “It ends up as this funny, lonely, weird, almost psychotic character who’s misunderstood the idea of a catchphrase or an idiom, taking it way too seriously.”
Whilst Holt’s success is evident, creating his own work whilst simultaneously dancing in other pieces, dance is a profession not without its jeopardy, which Holt experienced first hand (that’s a pun that will make sense in about 80 words time). Recently, whilst attending a workshop aiding an artist’s research, participants were using their bodies to create sound from large abstract steel sculptures.
“It came to the last sculpture. So [I’ve got] both hands around a long girder, [another participant] mounts it. [The woman] running the workshop says ‘don’t put all your weight on that sculpture.’ And almost defiantly he’s on the sculpture. BOOM. Sculpture snaps; steel, my fingers, and then more steel underneath. Pinkie’s hanging off; I go ‘ah fuck’, pull the whole thing away, almost leaving my fingers in the thing, and then I look at my hand. There’s no blood, so I’m like ‘there you go, some minor cuts’, then blood starts gushing from everywhere. Two days after surgery I [performed] high on opiates which was, looking back at the footage, ill advised.”
Now near fully recovered, Lewys Holt’s Footnotes and Phrases will be performed at Curve’s Inside out festival on the 25th of October.