Alumni Interview: Chloe Aliyanni Dance

Chloe Aliyanni 2

Chloe Aliyanni is a Trinity Laban alumnus working on an exciting dance piece for performance this month. Her work, Trivialis, will be performed by her company Chloe Aliyanni Dance from 18-21 November at the Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell. To assist in the creation of the work, Trinity Laban offered Chloe some rehearsal space, giving me a great opportunity to catch up with herself and her team.

Chloe graduated from Trinity Laban in 2013, after studying the MA Choreography. Her three dancers – Savina Casarin, Jonathan Caruana, and Morrighan MacGillivray – as well as her rehearsal director, Markella Kefallonitou, all studied at Trinity Laban. I began the interview by delving into their experiences of life at the conservatoire.

“I met all my dancers here,” Chloe began. “Jon was in the very first project I did for a module: my first attempt to choreograph at Trinity Laban. Morrighan and I had wanted to work together for a long time, but because we were studying different courses, the timing didn’t work until after graduation. Markella (our rehearsal director) was a dance science student. It’s a great network to find dancers and collaborators from.”

I asked the company what had been the most important lesson learned from their time at Trinity Laban.

“It was a very interesting experience, because I learnt whole new ways of dealing with choreography and making dance,” Chloe told me. “It helped me work out what kind of artist I wanted to be. I gained confidence in my approach.”

Jon agreed. “It showed me where I fit in, in terms of work, in terms of physicality, and in terms of what I wanted to do after.”

Markella undertook the MSc Dance Science, and so had a slightly different approach to the study of dance.

“It gave me the opportunity to look at the various aspects that can influence the ‘whole’ dancer -from a physiological and a psychological perspective – and the different disciplines that can be used to enhance performance,” she explained. “My interest had always been to help dancers on performance and technique, and the expertise I gained from my postgraduate studies was crucial in order to be successful in this role with the company.”

Savina studied a one-year programme at postgraduate level. Travelling to the UK from Italy for her course, the culture shock was another challenge to overcome.

“It was a pretty intense year,” she told me. “Italy doesn’t have these kinds of big institutions so for me, starting at Trinity Laban was a big jump! A big change. It gave me autonomy.”

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Chloe Aliyanni Dance debuted Trivialis at Resolution, The Place’s annual festival of short dance and performance works, earlier this year. It has since been performed at Blueprints Festival, as part of East London Dance, and will be expanded from a 20-minute piece to a full length work for this month’s performance.

“It’s quite a chaotic process!” Chloe said. “We have to forget what we’ve done before, and try to keep what is essential for the message of the piece. In the studio, you have to see how your dancers feel and respond. That creates new directions.”

Jon elaborated. “Before, the energy had to shift much faster. Now, we’re setting a scene and it’s almost like your character is changing. It’s gone from something very dark, to something with a bit more freedom.”

So what’s it all about?

Trivialis follows the journey of three people whose paths suddenly and unexpectedly collide,” explained Morrighan.  “More broadly, it’s about the triumph, power and beauty of human connection and intimacy, amid the cold constraints of modern city life.”

Chloe told me she was inspired by living in the city. “In short, it’s about intimacy, and finding connections in places which do not support that.”

Watching a little rehearsal in action, I observed these feelings in the choreography. Dancers run apparently aimlessly, stumble into each other, and avoid each other’s gaze. But at the same time, they find themselves holding each other, dependent on the support of a network of faceless strangers. The irony of the intimate yet anonymous nature of public spaces resonates.

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I was fascinated to discover that the pieces features a live musician on-stage. It’s evident that CoLab, Trinity Laban’s collaborative festival of music and dance, has had an impact upon the creative output of the team. Chloe has demonstrated versatility by recently choreographing for a musical theatre show; in her independent work, Savina has been collaborating with a drummer. Jon, meanwhile, is working collaboratively as he develops his own installation-based work. He is also engaged in a project with Alice Anderson which will be showing at Euston’s Wellcome Collection from July to October.

Trivialis is just the beginning for these alumni. Wherever they go, I get the feeling there’ll be nothing trivial about the pathways Chloe Aliyanni and her team take.

Charlotte Constable – Press & PR

To book tickets for Trivialis, see Chloe Aliyanni Dance’s website.

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