Cameron McMillan: Kinetic Echo

Cameron McMillan speaks to Dance is the Word writer Jessica Kranish about choreographing Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves with ENBYouthCo dancers for Big Dance 2014…

On a sunny Saturday morning, inside Sadler’s Wells’ Frederick Ashton Studio, Cameron McMillan is at work, exhorting the young dancers of ENBYouthCo to deepen the piece he’s creating on them, Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selveswith their own details.

“Find something within your own movement,” he tells them.  “It’s your responsibility.”  He watches as they rehearse his choreography-in-progress, occasionally halting them to sharpen their expression.  In one corner, a female dancer manipulates another—lifting an arm, tilting the head—sculpting the lines of her body as she’s suspended passively in various positions.

Co-commissioned by English National Ballet and the Foundation for Community Dance for Big Dance 2014, Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves explores the sometimes fractured connections between dancers and their audience in a time when self-expression – thanks to social media – can seem like a hall of mirrors.

I was interested in asking questions about how we receive and engage with dance and art in the digital age, in particular social media and how that impacts on the identity of a young emerging dance artist  

Is it a fight to actually be heard within the constant stream, and are you being heard in the way you would like?
Cameron McMillan

For McMillan, Kinetic Echo is another step in a busy, eclectic career.  His interest in dance started early: McMillan describes his childhood self as “always that kid dancing around, wherever and whenever possible.” 

“Perhaps it was also a way to diffuse the copious amount of energy I had as a child,” he said.

After eight years of dance lessons, the then 16-year-old McMillan left his New Zealand home to attend Melbourne’s Australian Ballet School, later moving on to dance with companies including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, and English National Ballet.  He began exploring the choreographic process – which he likens to “putting a jigsaw puzzle together” – within platforms available in his dance career before eventually going freelance.

It was a big part of the decision of becoming a freelance dancer, to balance the time between being a performer and maker. At some point, the challenge of creating work became more interesting, but I do miss performing.

For McMillan, who cites a wide range of sources from “humanity” to “the juxtaposition of complexity and simplicity” to “the potential of letting the creative process lead” as his inspirations, every experience contributes.

The more I work, the more I add to my bank of experience, enabling me to understand myself and what frees me to make creative decisions

Even when it’s difficult: “The challenges,” he says, “are what teach you.”

by Jessica Kranish

Be part of the creative journey online at www.ballet.org.uk/echo and contribute. Join us at Westfield London (W12) for the site-specific live performance on Saturday 12 July, 2pm and 5pm

Kinetic Echo is co-commissioned by English National Ballet and the Foundation for Community Dance for the Big Dance Weekend 2014 and Westfield Presents.