Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary Alumni Jack Thomson releases short film

Jack Thomson is dancer, choreographer and photographer, as well as a former participant in the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme (2014-2016). In his role at the Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre, he danced work by choreographers such as Itzik Galili, Caroline Finn and Sharon Watson (Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre), working with the company at a crucial time as it marked its 35th year anniversary.
Jack tells us about life after the programme and the release of his new short film, Business is Brutal, commissioned by Random Acts and released on Wednesday 15th November 2017.

After completing the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme, I continued dancing for Phoenix Dance Theatre until December 2016, at which point I decided it was time to further pursue my personal creative practice.

Soon after this, I was commissioned by Random Acts to create a short film: Business is Brutal. Random Acts is Channel 4's short film strand dedicated to the arts, their belief is ‘The world is full of TV about artists; Random Acts is instead be TV by artists.’ The Random Acts philosophy is to leave the door open for artists to create without restricting briefs.

In fact, the only brief is to be bold, challenging and daring. It was also important for me to explore what unique qualities film can bring to dance as an art form and how I could use the brief as an opportunity to open that exploration up.

Whilst continuing my daily dance training and other practices beyond Phoenix, I worked on developing the film’s choreography and message. During this period, I became massively inspired by musician and artist Tanya Tagaq, and found myself during the development time listening to her epic vocals, and improvising movement to her tracks like Retribution and Uja.

In March 2017, I approached Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, for permission to work with dancers from the company in the film. This was massively benefited by my prior engagement with the company, made possible by the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme. She was happy to support a former member of the company and after the agreements had been made, I worked at the Phoenix Dance Theatre studios in Quarry Hill, Leeds, and spent some time choreographing with the dancers. I created a range of material which was eventually shot in an office in Leeds City Centre on Sunday 2 April 2017.

Maintaining the relationship I had established from my time in the company under the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme was important for me and I was grateful that I was also able to involve them as I moved into performing and creating my own work.

I could not imagine having the same opportunity, or the same film, without having first had the opportunity to work with Phoenix. I think it is a perfect example of the impact the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries can have. By simply creating an opportunity for individuals, you start and encourage that cycle of opportunity to flourish into new collaborations, new ideas and in this case a new short film. I recommend you watch it in HD with the volume turned up high!