Janis Claxton sadly passed away on 7 September 2018. She was a tour-de-force: a hugely talented choreographer and a front-line fighter for gender equality in dance. She died at the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh having been diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring.
Her company Janis Claxton Dance has just performed her most famous work POP-UP DUETS at Tanzmesse and will continue with its scheduled tour, the next dates being Bilbao in November.
Janis was born in Brisbane Australia in 1964 and started her dance training aged 3.
She was Founder and Artistic Director of the award winning contemporary dance company Janis Claxton Dance and Founder/Director of SC2ENE Cultural Exchange Network.
She had worked internationally for 30 years in numerous countries including UK, China, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan, Taiwan, India, Spain and the Netherlands for internationally renowned dance and theatre organisations.
Through her choreography and her company Janis Claxton Dance she was committed to bringing dance to public spaces and new audiences with a particular passion for the ‘accidental audience’. She has created work for theatres, studios, zoos, parks, museums and galleries.
POP-UP DUETS was a huge critical and popular success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016, taking place at the National Museum of Scotland as part of Made in Scotland.
The following year she was proud that the work was selected as one of only ten international works for the prestigious Pitch New Works at the ISPA New York 2017 Congress.
And this year POP-UP DUETS embarked on a tour which has taken the company and her work to the Singapore International Arts Festival, Lincoln Centre New York Out of Doors, Malmo Summerfest and Lund’s Sommarlund in Sweden and to galleries, streets, courtyards and foyers across Scotland and the UK.
This summer Janis Claxton Dance also received the prestigious invitation to bring work to Jacob’s Pillow Dance, the longest-running dance festival in the United States.
It was only the second Scottish company to be invited following the Celtic Ballet of Scotland, founded by Margaret Morris, which made its US debut at the Pillow in 1954.
Previous works for Janis Claxton Dance include Enclosure Humans Series and Chaos & Contingency. In 2010 the company represented Scotland at the World Expo Shanghai.
Janis won many awards for her choreography including most recently a Herald Archangel Award this August for her sustained contribution to Edinburgh’s Festivals.
She also performed internationally as an independent dancer with world-renowned companies including The One Extra Dance Theatre (Australia), Michael Parmenters’ Commotion Company (New Zealand), and in 1992 she was invited by Erick Hawkins to join his Erick Hawkins Dance Company in New York.
Her producing ranged from small to large-scale performances, cultural events, workshops and training programmes in several countries.
Since 2003 she had produced and co-produced all her company’s works in the UK and internationally including long residency programmes in China and large scale works that brought Chinese dancers to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
In 2013 she created SC2ENE a cultural exchange network designed for exchange and collaboration with a focus on linking UK and China’s creative and innovation sectors.
With the support of Federation of Scottish Theatres Producers Placement Bursary in 2014 Janis worked with Alison Friedman and Ping Pong Productions in Beijing co-producing Mark Morris Dance Group and Tim Robbin’s The Actors Gang at the National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing and also in Shenzhen.
As an International Creative Entrepreneurs fellow Janis worked with ASK LAB and Xinanwei co-producing The Audi App Jam. She also produced Jango Starr’s One Man Shoe on tour in 2016.
Janis inspired dancers of all ages and mentored many young dancers. She taught in major dance academies and conservatories internationally including Beijing Dance Academy, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, London School of Contemporary Dance, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and Dance Academy Arnhem.
She worked with personally and taught one of the great Modern Dance Masters Erick Hawkins’s technique across Europe.
Janis is survived by her husband Clive Andrews and her son Marlin Andrews.