Amanda Turner works throughout the U.S. and internationally as a master teacher, choreographer and consultant. She has been voted by Dance Magazine as one of New York’s Top 10 Women Artists “who are doing it all.”
Born in Nottingham, England, she completed her early training at the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in Camberley. She has danced as a soloist with Israel National Ballet, and continued her classical career in Europe with Munich Ballet Theatre, Vienna Ballet Theatre and gala performances with the Royal Ballet (with Wayne Sleep). Her breakout theatrical role was in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s premiere cast of The Phantom of the Opera in Vienna, choreographed by Gillian Lynn. Other musical credits include Evita, West Side Story, Hello Dolly, Oliver, Beauty and the Beast, Little Me, and Damn Yankees.
Choreography credits include pieces for the Klagenfurt Opera House, Jekyll and Hyde (Germany), Lifetime Television, numerous promotional events and benefit galas, and now she joins us to co-create BOUNTIFUL. Amanda has had a long-standing relationship with both co-founders of R.Evolución Latina, Luis Salgado and Gabriela Garcia, and has taught classes for the “Dare To Go Beyond” workshops, RL’s Summer Camps, and was one of the choreographers in the 2011 Choreographers Festival.
Amanda shared some of her thoughts on inspiration and dance-making with us.
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Speaking to the theme of the festival, how has your life been made bountiful through dance?
How has my life become “Bountiful” through dance? Oh, in so many ways! On an external level I have travelled all over the world and worked in many different countries. Unfortunately, when you are busy performing and rehearsing you don’t always get to enjoy the beautiful places you visit but you still experience the mood and culture of a place. I would have to say the most bountiful thing for me is the connection with other people. I love meeting new people, working with them, and inspiring them. In return I feel inspired even more—it’s a gift that keeps on giving! My inner life, though, is the most Bountiful through dance. Dance has taken me on a journey of deeply knowing myself. The more I know my body, the more I reach my soul. Dancing is like praying.
Where do you look to find inspiration?
I look at life, at people. I am particularly moved to explore what moves people emotionally. I find inspiration everywhere and in everything, actually, whether on the subway or in beautiful nature somewhere. I love observing everything: how people move, how things flow or don’t flow. I love beautiful architecture and although I don’t directly transfer that into choreography it inspires different moods or time periods. I also love open space. It’s like a blank canvas where anything can happen, and for me that is where all transformation takes place. Music and voice always inspire me and are always the driving force behind the movement. I particularly love opera. I cannot listen to a piece of music without choreographing to it in my mind! Overall, I have probably gained most of my inspiration from varying forms and expressions of spirituality, such as the Vedic traditions, nature, and anything mystical and magical, such as the moon!
How do you overcome choreographer’s block when making a dance?
Well to be honest, I don’t usually get blocked for ideas unless it’s something way out of my scope of interest! It’s more a question of making a choice as to which movement will best tell the story and embody the music. I’m picky so I don’t like to just string steps together, ever. It has to have a meaning and a motivating factor or emotion, the same as acting a scene in a play. I always listen to the music very carefully to see how it is speaking to me. The shape of the movement is born out of that. It helps to have a large vocabulary of movements to select from and that comes with experience and exposure to all kinds of styles, so that has become easier. Usually, if I get stuck it’s because I’m thinking about it too much, so I meditate, take a walk, listen to a completely different style of music, then come back to it afresh.