Sonia York-Price: 'Ageism and the Mature Dancer'

Why do professional dancers have to retire so early? Well, according to QCA creative arts PhD candidate Sonia York-Price, they don’t. A former ballet dancer herself, York-Price’s extensive experience in the performing arts industry allows her access to interview dancers who have continued to work long after their ‘shelf-life’ as paid performing artists has expired. She has interviewed 30 mature dancers across the world, mostly over the age of 40, addressing ageing, physicality, and process in the dance world they inhabit.

Contemporary dancers are now able to dance for longer than those from earlier generations – they have better health support and better support generally. They also have insight into what their bodies need and are perhaps more conscious than most of us as to what their bodies are capable of.

Sonia is a mature dancer, photographer and filmmaker who trained in Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance extensively in London. Her PhD research – Ageism and the Mature Dancer – examines the role of dancers who extend beyond the paradigm of age, and the contribution that they make to current dialogue and practice within the field of dance.

Her creative output for the PhD is composed of films made under the title: Inappropriate Behaviour.

These films celebrate the mature dancers’ corporeal difference and how their practice defines them rather than their age. Eight mature professional dancers – four from London and four from Sydney –were asked to view a video of Sonia’s dance motif and instructed to re-interpret the choreography. Each dancer was filmed independently, forming 8 solo films. From this the responses were edited again to produce the final film, Interprète - Inappropriate Behaviour, creating an embodied dialogue of movement. Each of the 8 dancers’ interpretations can be viewed on Sonia’s website.

Sonia's film was selected for the Stockholm Dans Film Festival screening 10/11th December 2017.