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Yolande Yorke-Edgell – Dance Revolutionaries Interview

Yorke Dance Project is set to captivate UK audiences with the release of its remarkable new dance film, Dance Revolutionaries from Wednesday 26 June. From Emmy-nominated director David Stewart, the film is a captivating exploration of raw emotion through dance set in stunning locations, with Portraits — a series of five solo dances, and an innovative production of the rarely-seen ballet, Sea of Troubles

Kenneth MacMillan's Sea of Troubles.

The two-part film delves into the emotive world of two dance visionaries, choreographers Robert Cohan and Kenneth MacMillan. Cohan's film work 
Portraits is an intimate series of solos created with award-winning dancers. MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles, inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, poignantly explores universal human emotions of grief, jealousy, and the drive for revenge. Sea of Troubles was recently awarded ‘Best Dance Film’ by the Critics’ Circle at the 24th National Dance Awards.

Yorke Dance Project, in partnership with the Royal Ballet, and with award-winning artists Romany Pajdak, Dane Hurst, and Jonathan Goddard, produces and performs this extraordinary journey, providing unprecedented, close-up access to the revolutionary works of Cohan and MacMillan.

To celebrate the release of Dance Revolutionaries we were delighted to chat with Yolande Yorke-Edgell, producer and artistic director at Yorke Dance Project.

Where did your career begin?
After studying performing arts and attending art college I graduated and immediately auditioned for a small touring company called Extemporary Dance Theatre. I was fortunate enough to be accepted and that was the springboard for my career. I went on to dance for Rambert Dance Company and was inspired by their model of presenting past and present works when I set up Yorke Dance Project.

When did you know dance was something that you wanted to do?
I didn’t have that lightbulb moment that a lot of artists have. My mother was a dancer and I was following in her footsteps. I was taken out of my primary school early to go to performing art school and it became an obsession more than a passion. The biggest moment when I knew I was doing something that connected to me deeply was when I went to New York and studied one summer at the Martha Graham School of Dance. That was it for me, it changed me as a dancer and as an educator. I completely connected to the way the movement comes from within you rather than studying to create a stylised look.

What can you tell me about the new film?
The new film showcases two incredibly important artists of our time. Yorke Dance Project has had the honour of performing works by both Kenneth MacMillan and Robert Cohan. They created dances that connect with you on a human level, they made dance that was about pure emotion, which can be raw and uncomfortable at times as well as being beautiful. These two works, Portraits and Sea of Troubles, really highlight their brilliance.

Yolande Yorke-Edgell

What inspired you to create this film?
During Lockdown we wanted to keep creating so came up with the idea to film the solo dances that Cohan was making for the stage. It was a way of not standing still and waiting, we took action and we made something creative out of a restrictive situation. Because the director David Stewart created such beautiful imagery we decided to develop this and make a bigger film!

How would you say dance allows you to express yourself/others?
We all have the same feelings, pain, anger, love, joy, and we all know how that feels. The beauty of dance is that all of those feelings can be expressed through movement and people watching can understand that, they can feel what the dancer is describing without words. Just like the silent movies used to.

What would your advice be to anyone who wants to dance?
I think if it is something that you want to do, if it brings you joy amongst the challenges then you must seek out as many classes, see as many forms of art, and keep connecting to other dancers and artists. Don’t let setbacks get in the way, use them to your advantage to take another path to the same destination.

Who are your dance idols?
Robert Cohan and Kenneth MacMillan without a doubt and Martha Graham, Bella Lewitzky, Pina Bausch are choreographers that have always inspired me. The dancers in Dance Revolutionaries are my idols, they are incredible and I have such admiration and I’m constantly inspired by them.

Romany Pajdak in Robert Cohan's Portraits.

What keeps you inspired?
Watching historical footage of works by the incredible artists I have mentioned and I    enjoy arts and visiting galleries. I am also inspired by talking with current artists such as Mark Bruce and Ben Duke and artists who have made a huge impact on dance worldwide such as Robert Cohan when we worked with him and Christopher Bruce who we are currently working with. Watching the Martha Graham Dance company is also incredibly inspiring.

What do you want an audience to take away from seeing the film?
It is quite simple really, if audiences have been moved emotionally then that would be why we do what we do, to connect us so we can have a shared experience. You don’t have to know why you have been moved, it doesn’t matter, the fact that someone can connect to another through movement is priceless. 
Dance Revolutionaries is in select UK cinemas from 26 June 2024. For the latest information on screenings please go to:

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