Interview With Top UK Choreographer Anthony King

Here is an interview with Anthony King, choreographer of the ‘Thriller Workout DVD’, author of ‘Dance Like The Stars’ and founder of the Michael Jackson Style dance class. An amazing dancer and teacher, he has some very interesting views (he studied philosophy you know) and I love the way he thinks. Check out this interview he did!

What are your inspirations? What inspires your individual dance projects? How do you personally create sequences and is it hard?

I am inspired by lots of things and some people. Musically it would be people like Michael Jackson, Jean Michel Jarre, various classical composers and Pink Floyd. When it comes to choreography then it’s a combination of taking a look at the person and trying to understand them and where they want to go. With that information the creating and the dancing can commence.

Sometimes dancing is hard on the body, but the conceiving process is pretty easy and a lot of fun. The hard part, for some can sometimes be the perfecting process of repetition and practice. Although sometimes hard, this is the most important bit and really pays off on stage. I can be inspired by anything, everything or nothing though, it depends on the specific situation or with whom I am working.

What was the “It” moment that made you think “I want to be a choreographer”?

This is interesting. There was never a moment in time, because how can you be anything other than what you are anyway? It’s more like a gradual realization that you are doing what you want to do more and more frequently and doing what you don’t want to do, less so. There are very few “it” moments in life. The only “it” moment is now. Which is great, when you think about it!

Generally, I do not differentiate between who I am and what I do, so I just do what I feel like doing as much as I can. It’s a case of; if you just be yourself and enjoy what you do, then it’ll work and you’ll be happy…the alternative isn’t logical or honest anyway. Consequently, “Thinking” doesn’t come into it. Knowing does…know what you want to do, then do it or even better BE it! That’s my philosophy, which works for me.

Is it possible to simply look at someone and know they are the right mind set and will be a great dancer or does it take time to develop with most people?

In my opinion, you can usually tell and it is very possible to look at somebody for a few seconds and gage their ability, seriousness, maturity and mindset. Ability, usually from their walk, attitude and physicality, for example, but mindset and potential from the words they speak, or more importantly, lack of them. The student or dancers with the most potential are the ones who listen…its pretty simple!

In fact the quickest learners are usually the people who have the least faith in there own ability because they feel that they have nothing to lose, so they put the extra effort and have that willingness to learn…that eagerness. In fact it is that mindset that get’s you there quicker!

It’s about the psychology of the person as well as intellectual integrity. Somebody who thinks that they have ability but doesn’t is incapable of learning anyway and already has everything that they need. Somebody that thinks that they don’t have ability can only improve, and usually with hard work and dedication, very quickly! So you are right to point out mindset, as it is very very important. Especially in the learning process, this of course, is a psychological thing before it manifests physically in any kind of form.

Is it difficult for the average person to understand and pick up the technical aspects of the dance?

Not at all! It’s really quite simply when you think about it. If you want to know something: learn to do it! It might take time, training, effort and hard work…but who cares! So the hard part is overcoming fear, motivation, effort…psychological issues, hardly ever physiological issues! We all have the ability.

How did the idea of the book come about?

I felt that the time was right. It’s so hard when teaching and interacting with people because sometimes you just don’t have the time to go into detail. So, I thought that the time was right to put it in a book, so that people can take it away and think about themselves, ability, goals and dreams for themselves…as it’s always a case of YOU are the number one expert in the subject of YOU.

You don’t need a teacher or an expert to enlighten you. It takes a long time to go into specific reasons and remedy for different situations, and the usual 5 minute chat, quick sound bite or general tips isn’t the best way to inspire real change. It’s a lot easier to make a case with a book and encourage the reader to inspire change and think for themselves.

What your book offers looks more to be a way of life than just a simple instruction manual. Is your own life built around the art?

I think that I might have answered this question already, but yes, I express myself in many ways, as honestly as I can at all times. That might be dancing, thinking, reading, walking, drinking tea, writing books, creating a DVD or whatever. A true artist cannot differentiate between who they are and what they do…I strongly believe this.

So there is no 9 ‘ 5 job, or “work mode” or “holidays”…this is not an artists life…so if you want to express yourself artistically to your highest potential, just know that there are real sacrifices, real pain, possible loneliness and alienation but real rewards and fulfillment to! It is definitely a way of life and not for the majority of people. It helps if you’re a little nuts as well!

What is advice you would give to young people who want to make a career out of dance? What are the challenges, and on what should they focus?

I would say to them; study the greats like Michael Jackson and Fred Astaire. Get as much performing experience as you can. Get a strong grasp of Ballet and Jazz and increase your dance vocabulary with as many unique styles as you can. Take care of your physical body and try and look good. Smile a lot! Forget the idea of making money out of it for a long time…if you are thinking about money when you are a young person instead of about learning your craft, then you should go and study accountancy or something in the financial sector…but if you’re willing to work hard, for little money and for the love of your art then go for it!

And you’ll be surprised at where you can go. Most importantly…read. Read, read, read…read everything and then question the world and the people around you and then go and put all of that passion into your art, and change the world! Focus on YOU and then other people will too. Finally, disregard all of the above if you want! Feel free to create your own path and make your own way and do what you feel is right…you can’t go wrong!

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