It feels like a dream – dancers lope around corridors of a gorgeous modernist house, each using their bodies to explore the limits of the space. At times, they collide, limbs melting into one another, but there’s a deep sense of solitude that pervades. Holly Blakey, director and choreographer, frames an immersive world around the dancers in “Cherry Hill” her latest piece for NOWNESS, created in association with Christie’s Auction House.
“Camille’s feet explore each fraction of the house like she’s never seen any of it before,” Holly explains to NOWNESS. “She imagines friends, lovers, and characters to bathe her and dance with her. There’s a definite sadness, but also hopefully something a little magical and playful at the same time.”
Holly Blakey hails from Harrogate, North Yorkshire and is, in her own words, a “Beyonce loving, weird mix of narcissism vs gratitude, self loathing vs love, not to messed with dance demon”. Holly is signed with Lez Creative in London.
We chatted with Holly about her latest work, how she blends dance and film together, and some of the inspiring women in her life!
Your video for Christie’s/NOWNESS drops today! Congrats – can you tell us a bit about this particular project?
This was a wonderful project to work on. Camille Rowe, the lead and I, had worked together choreographically before, so I knew she’d be perfect. We wanted to create a dream world where she created characters all around her to liberate herself from loneliness.
As a dancer & choreographer, do you find that your multiple art forms inform one another?
Yes, completely. The kind of choreography I make is less about technique and virtuoso; I’m more interested in expression, life’s subtleties. In a way, keeping on this form of practice very naturally contributes towards directing, and of course the other way around.
You’re well known as a choreographer for your work with groups like Florence & the Machine. What are some of your favorite pieces that you’ve worked on choreography for?
Yeah I’d say my work with Florence is up there, but also people like Gwilym Gold, Young Fathers, Klyne, and of course my live show, Some Greater Class.
How did you find your way to working as a director? Was it something that you always were interested in pursuing?
Actually, not really at first. It started as a way to make dances without interference, to have full ownership over how the choreography looked, then I got more and more interested in developing story, which is actually a massive part of my live work too. In a way, it all works through a similar practice, it’s just the platform that shifts.
Can you talk a bit about how you prefer to work? How do you get started on any given project? What’s your working style on set?
I like to work on instinct, which generally means I go off piste and drive everybody mad.
Mostly, when using choreography the body of work is set before we get the camera up, so you know what you’re doing… The rest, the detail, the feeling, I like to play around with and push things places we didn’t realize before we got there.
Any important influences on your work? What inspires you?
I love detail, and go off feeling a lot. I’m inspired by Paulo Sorrentino, Isabelle Huppert (with the exception of Elle, which I didn’t agree with at all), Pina Bausch, Carloee Schneemann… watching the way someone opens a sandwich wrapper, the parakeets in my garden.
What would your dream music video or commercial project look like? Who would you want to be working with?
Are there any other badass creative women that you know who you think we all should know about?
Darcy Wallace, Ilona Mcilwain, Celia Hempton, Hannah Perry, Jala Wahid, Zoe Marden, Oral Rinse, Maeva Berthelot, Eve Stainton, Florence Peake, Grace Jabbari, Naomi Weijand, Becky Namgauds, Hannah Hopkins, SAGG Napoli, Nimmo, Anna Engerstrom, Clare Gillen, Eira Wyn Jones, Megan Thorne, Mica Levi, Kiera Blakey, Gery Georgieva, Lacey, Fiona Burgess, Micol Ragni, Claudia Palazzo, Helen Pike, Polly Mackey… There are more as well, I know it.
Free The Bid is committed to advocating for diverse perspectives and points of view. What do you think are some of the benefits to diverse representation on both sides of the camera lens?
So we no longer have to think about the above question… and can start moving beyond it.
Anything else you want to share with the Free The Bid audience?
Thank you for having me!! <3