London-based dancer and choreographer Melody Squire does it all – from musicals to films and commercials, her career has spanned a range of genres, and she brings that experience to her young company, Sol Dans. Returning to the Cloud Dance Festival with an energetic premiere, Groundlings, she spoke engagingly of her American roots and her current experimentations. Interview conducted by Laura Cappelle of Bella Figura.

How did you start dancing?

I’ve been dancing since I was two and a half – my parents put me in dance classes before I even knew I loved it, so it’s something that I’ve always known, it’s just been my life. I started in jazz and ballet when I was a little girl, and then I went to Point Park Conservatory to train in the US. I later went to Paris with Wells College for the Arts abroad, and then I got a degree at London Studio Centre. I also trained with Intoto Contemporary Dance in my final year.

I started this company because I love contemporary jazz, and I felt like there was work to be made with people that I knew. I thought I could facilitate all of their talents in a group, and it organically came together. The first thing we did was Resolution!, in 2008, and since then we’ve worked on several projects. Groundlings is our third piece.

What was the thinking behind this piece?
For Groundlings I tried something different – sometimes I’m quite regimented in choreographing everything, but this time we were exploring with our movement material. I’ve enjoyed it – the dancers collaborated as well, and they’re all very strong performers on their own. I just wanted to experiment, as that is what is great with Cloud Dance Festival: it’s a really good platform for emerging choreographers. It’s hard when you’re in that in-between place where you’ve got good work, great dancers, but you’re waiting for funding.

How would you define your style?
It’s physical, emotive, and raw.

What are your inspirations?

I love film – I love to tell a story, I’m also inspired by music and art. I’ve seen concerts, circuses that were simply amazing. I come from Chicago, and I grew up with Hubbard Street Dance and Alvin Ailey coming through – they inspired me, and I come from that background of emotional movement, where music is quite strong.

What’s next for you after the festival?
We’ll break up for the Christmas holidays, but we’ll start looking for festivals to take part in again in 2010. We will also try to get funding, as we don’t have any yet. Hopefully that way we’ll be able to get another piece or two together, and have an evening of works to present.

Any Christmas wishes for your company?
I just hope the dancers enjoy themselves, because they worked very hard, and that the audience will enjoy Groundlings as well. I like the audience to be entertained and engaged in what they’re watching.

Many thanks to Chantal Guevara for making these interviews possible.