Who the hell is Daniel Linehan?

We take a look at how the Belgium-based American choreographer uses multimedia to help his dance shows say more

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Is he the best new choreographer I’ve never heard of?
Something like that. The 30-year-old American has made Europe his home after studying at the influential PARTS school in Brussels. Now he makes clever contemporary dance work that takes influence from both sides of the Atlantic.

Great. Can we use this as an excuse to draw some broad national stereotypes?
Yes, let’s do that. What it seems to boil down to is that the Belgians sit around conceptualising all day, while the Americans just get off their asses and do it. Although Linehan doesn’t put it quite like that.

Which approach does he prefer?
He’s chosen to stay in Belgium. Turns out a bit of clear thinking makes for better work, and the fact that there’s a ton more funding available for artists in Continental Europe is a plus. Culture-straddling seems to have worked for Linehan, whose work comes out part New York hipster smarts, part European conceptual rigour. Best of both!

What does that look like?
For a start, he’s not into pure dance. ‘I’m curious about joining dance with other forms and how it can interact with those forms and relate to our daily lives,’ says Linehan.

Which other forms?
Often text. He’s into wordplay in a way that brings to mind a grown-up Dr Seuss – the latest piece is called ‘Gaze Is a Gap Is a Ghost’. His highly structured but playful approach to movement is a kind of dance equivalent of that (minus cats, hats, green eggs, ham etc). Video and photography feed into his work too.

Oh yeah, multimedia. Projections and stuff?
Not so much. In the new piece he uses cameras to show the audience the dancers’ point of view – we see what they see – ‘to show the position of the dance from the inside’.

Hm, sounds high tech...
Actually, the effect is more lo-fi.

Ok, so I’m picturing Dr Seuss with a camera phone philosophising over moules-frites in Brooklyn. Is that it?
Erm. Kind of…

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