Developing your Creative Practice
The next stage of my personal development as I transition into the next stage of my career in the arts is extremely important to me, which caused me to wonder if it would be appropriate to share my development with the general public; indeed, would people be interested to know about my transition? Nonetheless, I am reminded that my early career over the past 10 years has been generously supported by funding and public donations, and for that alone I am forever grateful. I therefore feel it is only appropriate that I do share with you openly my plans for the future.
I have been trying to prepare this message for some time now, sitting at home with a bottle of San Miguel (arguably not the best), listening to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians.
While reminiscing over the past decade (with my beer) I have come to realise that, until now, my vision and commitment to the establishment of Eliot Smith Dance (ESD) has left no time or space for me to reflect on and revisit my own personal relationship to dance.
Now, at the age of 30, and with ESD celebrating its 10th anniversary, I feel I have reached a point in my career where I am ready to focus on ‘essential time’ in my creative practice which, I hope, will have an everlasting impact on my work, both personally and at ESD. It is time to find new ways to connect with the ESD audience, to make a significant transition, broaden my horizons, and focus on the next 10 years and beyond.
After much consideration (and not in response to the pandemic) I have decided that my final performance as 'a dancer' will be ESD's upcoming live performances on 03 and 04 July and virtually on 31 July. Of course, I never say ‘never’, but I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to dance alongside many unique and talented dancers who have joined ESD from across the world, learning from their cultures, building friendships, and performing my own works as well as those created especially for ESD by international choreographers such as Maggie Boogaart, Lorenzo Pagano, Maurice Causey, Mathieu Geffré, Rosie Kay, Balbir Singh, Jake Vincent and Mark Baldwin. I have learned so much from the dancers, choreographers and teachers, memories of which will remain with me forever.
To help support me during my period of personal development I am extremely grateful to have been awarded a Developing your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England. This will give me the opportunity to undergo a rigorous, extensive creative period to rediscover and develop my own movement language and choreographic voice, and to forge a new artistic direction as a creative leader, staging new work and spending time joining new networks in the dance community.
This development plan will allow me new creative inspiration without the immediate pressure of having to create a finished or a commissioned work at ESD. This does not mean, however, that ESD will be taking a break. On the contrary, in the background I will be generating new directions and energy on rediscovering, replenishing and codifying my movement vocabulary. This comes at a time when it is vital for me to explore and adopt new dance styles that will speak to wider audiences, and to address the shift of live to digital performances.
Retiring from dance does have its benefits however - it means I can crack open another San Miguel and look forward to more fish and chips - and not feel guilty afterwards! And a plus for those who really did not enjoy my dancing!
If you want to follow my transition over the next 12 months, please continue to check www.eliotsmithdance.com/transition , or follow my personal social media channels.
I do hope you will be able to join me and the ESD Company of Dancers at our upcoming live performances, on what will be my final curtain call. Never say “never”!
If any cultural leaders are reading this, please do reach out to me - I would really value your advice and support. I can be reached at .
I hope you are all keeping well, and may I take this opportunity to thank you for being interested enough to read about my future plans.
Eliot Smith FRSA
Founder and Artistic Director
Eliot Smith Dance
Eliot Smith in "Portraits of Courage", August 2019
Photographer Darren Irwin