Contemporary dancer Leon Poulton uses his experience in the art form to feed his second profession as a freelance dance photographer. He tells Giverny Masso about learning to juggle for Spring, a collaboration between Gandini Juggling’s director Sean Gandini and choreographer Alexander Whitley…
How did you get into dance?
I first got into dance when I was 15 or 16. I was doing a performing arts course and my teacher suggested I try dancing, because I was doing lots of sports at the time including football, trampolining and gymnastics. Once I started, I enjoyed it so much and I went on to do dance at Trinity Laban in London. I graduated in 2009 and went on to join BalletBoyz, and was with them for the next seven years.
Has it been a challenge learning to juggle for Spring?
Before I started, I could only juggle with three balls. I’ve started juggling with rings and clubs. At times it is hard, because the professional jugglers can do much much more than I can. But the dancers and jugglers play up to each other in the piece.
Tell me about your other profession – photography?
I have always been interested in photography from a young age. When I started at BalletBoyz, they were also very interested by film and photography and when I started touring I wanted a camera to document my time with them. To become a dance photographer then seemed like a natural step, as I was meeting so many dance professionals. Being a dancer myself means I can use my knowledge of dance and how the body moves to create the image that I want, and I am also able to direct the dancers I work with when I photograph them.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in your career so far?
It is learning to work with people that have different experiences and backgrounds from you, and challenging yourself in that situation. My style of dance is very organic, it flows really well. It is complementary to the body rather than some styles that are more difficult for the body to achieve.
You came into dance a little later than some – was this a challenge?
It depends on the style of dance you want to succeed in. The sports and stuff I did before helped my flexibility and strength. I have come across some dancers who started aged four and others who were 18. Never think it is too late to start dancing. My advice to emerging dancers is to keep your mind open to different experiences. Something you might have thought you’ll go into might end up being your secondary style.
What are your plans for the future?
In 2018, I am moving to Germany for a year to work with choreographer Ivan Perez. I’ve worked with him in the past and I really enjoyed the process. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I like to take things one step at a time. I know I would like to do a lot more in photography though.
Training: BA in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban (London)
First professional role: Torsion with BalletBoyz (2010)
Spring is at Cambridge Junction on February 7 and 8, with a UK tour to follow. Visit junction.co.uk/spring