About

Artistic Director: Kwesi Johnson

Since creating Kompany Malakhi, Kwesi has pushed creative boundaries and developed fresh and sophisticated ideas about how work is made, where it is performed and how audiences can get involved.

A graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, he has performed with some of the most prolific international companies and choreographers from Phoenix Dance Company, Lloyd Newson, Black Mime Theatre, Company Duroure, CandoCo Dance Company and the Hittite Empire before creating Kompany Malakhi in 1994.  Since creating the company, he has pushed creative boundaries and developed fresh and sophisticated ideas about how work is made, where it is performed and how audiences can get involved.  His dance foundation is in Breakin’ (Breakdancing), Hip Hop, physical theatre and contemporary dance, which he uses to create his unique style of work.  Kwesi coined the phrase Griographer to best describe his approach to making dance and physical theatre.  Griot is an Afrikan storyteller or social commentator who utilises many art forms to present stories. They do not separate dance, theatre, words etc. Grapher is taken from choreographer, someone who creates movement. Griographer also relates to his distinct way of creating work:

I’m interested in creating work that has an unusual approach and result. Interacting with audiences and offering messages, that often have a counter-culture foundation, drive me to make work.  The work has to retain its integrity, as long as this exists in the work, it can be presented in a number of spaces.  Presenting something in a car park or an outdoor event shouldn’t mean that the art or the people in attendance are lesser than those who attend the theatre.  I’m passionate about presenting in both indoor and outdoor spaces, they present individual challenges and satisfaction.

I’m also interested in synthesis that creates something unique. Cultures that progress are often influenced by something outside their normal existence.  I take this approach in my work which is reflected in Kompany Malakhi’s ethos and education work.  We and our environments are made up of many things.  I feel by saying I do just X, it limits my creative potential and doesn’t reflect who I am.

No matter how a person defines themselves, there is always more to that person.  For example a son can also be a father, a brother, a supervisor and a mechanic.  We naturally fuse in our everyday life, I’m going with what feels natural to make something unusual.

I’m influenced by a wealth of cultural and societal concepts, truths and untruths.  Artistically I liken the company to someone like Miles Davis, who defined himself as a Jazz trumpeter/musician, he was influenced by many styles of music and collaborated with a diverse range of musicians. This didn’t turn him into what he was influenced by or the musician he was collaborating with.  He retained his identity.  I strive for others to afford Kompany Malakhi that freedom when we create work that is influenced by other disciplines and styles, we are essentially a physical theatre company influenced by many ideas and concepts


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