Obituary: Janis Claxton – ‘dancer and choreographer with a formidable can-do attitude’

Janis Claxton

When she moved to Scotland in 2005, the Brisbane-born dancer and choreographer Janis Claxton brought with her a formidable can-do attitude that owed something to her Australian genes and much to a wealth of international experience and a determination to make dance accessible.

Teaching at Dundee College and with her own eponymous company, Claxton quickly established herself on the Scottish dance scene, taking dance into public locations in search of new audiences and greater relevance, and as a vociferous champion of gender equality in the form.

Featuring dancers confined as exhibits inside an enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, 2008’s Enclosure 44: Humans captured headlines and caught imaginations with its characteristically intelligent and challenging insinuation of dance into unexpected environments.

Earlier this year, she reprised Pop-Up Duets (Fragments of Love), a kaleidoscopic interrogation of relationships first seen in 2016, on tour in New York, Singapore and Sweden, at the Edinburgh Festival, where she received a Herald Archangel award in August.

She spent a substantial part of each year teaching and working in China, creating SC2ENE in 2013 to promote cultural exchange with Scotland.

Dancers from both countries were seen in the same year’s Chaos and Contingency, a gracefully complex work based on mathematical patterns created for the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Janis Kay Claxton was born on October 6, 1964, and died on September 7, aged 53.