INSiGHTZ: An Insight into YOUR dance journey with Johnny Autin
INSiGHTZ: An Inisght into…
An online series and archives with UK dance professionals sharing valuable insights within the dance industry.
Series 1 - ‘An insight into YOUR dance journey’ - Inspiring and motivating youth
Formulated by: Tamar Dixon
Disclaimer: This interview has been transcribed. Some responses are altered/edited.
Interview at: Johnny’s home 15th March 2019
1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO AND WHAT IS YOUR MAIN DANCE STYLE YOU WORK IN?
I am a creative director of Autin Dance Theatre and I setup my company 6 / 5 years ago. We are based in Birmingham. Our main style is dance theatre. We are multidisciplinary, a training professional company. We use contemporary dance, physical theatre, spoken word, stand up comedy, digital work to create performances.
2. WHY DANCE? WHAT OR WHO INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN YOUR DANCE JOURNEY?
I started dance quite late I was doing gymnastics and cycling. I was quite sporty. I remember 1 year when I was doing gymnastics when the National Federation of Gymnastics in France allowed the boys to do open floor work on music. Usually it's only allowed for girls. I was like ‘Ah that's really cool' that one year of movement and music really sparked me.
And at high school there was this after school club, Hip Hop dance. So from there I discovered more dance and conservatoires.
3. WHERE WERE YOU 5 YEARS AGO? (E.G. CAREER, DANCE LIFESTYLE, JOURNEY)
I stopped touring with a big dance organisation called 2Faced Dance Company based in Hereford and I setup my own company here in Birmingham. I started my own work.
4. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS TIME?
I hope that the work we are doing with Autin Dance Theatre reaches more people. My dream is to become a national portfolio organisation. A charity that delivers social and artistic work for young people around the country. In 5 years time I would want to finish my MBA. That would mean that our company is bigger and we get to do more international work. So creating more impactful work for our audiences and participants. And be married and have a kid, a house outside of Birmingham.
5. WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED SO FAR ALONG YOUR DANCE JOURNEY/PRACTICE?
I think it is a competitive sector there is a lot of work. There are lots of performance opportunities but there are also lots of people who are producing work and a lot of great artists around. So I think the challenge is the performance applications and festival applications, funding applications. Sometimes you get a knock back when work so hard on an application you've been working on for months and you don't get the funding.
There are some personal challenges intertwined around self-worth and your value as an artist. Also being in and out of work. I've learnt so much over the past couple of years of how to run a company. Planning for the future. Especially with Brexit looming. It becomes more and more uncertain. How do we hold onto values? Because we all want to make the world a better place, a happy place. We want to instigate social change. We want to inspire young people and produce inspiring work. We want to challenge social stigmas.
So we've got that strong social justice.
6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
Completing the tour that we've done is a huge achievement. It was an ambitious project. A Positive Life is a dance theatre play performed by a deaf performer, a spoken word artist, 5 dancers, a BSL interpreter. It was aimed at hard to reach audiences, with hard topics. So it was challenging on many levels. [Also] so completing a production that is tour ready, that we can make a national programme for sex education, self love and sexual health topics. Using dance as a medium is a big achievement.
I ticked something else off my bucket list last year when I performed in New York. Later in the year we will tour Dystopia, to East African countries. Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda. That's our first international tour. Everyday in our company is our wins. We have our wins everyday.
7. IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNG 16YR OLD SELF?
... Get over myself. I was probably a little shit as a performer, company member and now I have realised what it takes to be on the other side to bring something to life and bring people together. It takes you to understand that the work you do is more important than anything else. More important than the performers egos. I would also say to chill out. But I would also say that to myself now.
8. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER (CREATIVE) GENERATION?
To do it. Just do it. Complete it. I found a lot of value when I achieve something. You can only get better at something when you put in the work. Get out there and do it again. That is my advice.
9. HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED, POSITIVE AND MOTIVATED THROUGHOUT YOUR PRACTICE/TRAINING?
Remember why you do what you do. What is your why, which gets you out of bed in the morning. Going to see other people's work that inspires you. I am an extrovert I love being around people. Having some self awareness of how you operate.
10. RANDOM… BUT WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? WHEN YOU AREN’T IN DANCE/WORK MODE?
I have met somebody so we go and see shows and we go on walks.
BONUS QUESTION (OPTIONAL): ANY LAST FEW COMMENTS OR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OUR INSPIRED READERS?
Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Get out there and do it. Everybody is unique, everybody is special.
Thank you to Johnny for taking part in our INSiGHTZ series.
Learn more about Johnny at Autin Dance Theatre
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