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Q&A with Movement Director, Shelley Maxwell 

What is one of your earliest theatre memories? 

As a child growing up in Jamaica, I was first exposed to theatre through the world of dance. I would both attend and participate in dance concerts, formal and informal, and fell in love with the feeling of journeying into a place that was beyond the everyday and was instead some place quite magical. 

What was your route into the industry? 

Dance was my chosen route into the world of theatre making. Though it’s debatable as to whether I chose it or it chose me. I studied and honed my craft as a performer and maker in that world, later making my way on stage into musical theatre and subsequently into movement direction. 

What advice would you give to emerging artists? 

I think following one’s passion is always a positive attribute and by doing that you guarantee that there is a constant desire and fire to keep pushing forward. I believe having a strong sense of self-belief and resilience is helpful as an artist, as art is subjective. You can’t please everyone but you can strive to remain true to yourself. 

What has your journey been like from performer to movement director? 

For me it was somewhat a natural progression as, from a very young age, I was practicing the craft of choreography in the world of contemporary dance. I balanced this alongside my performance career and when I decided to retire from stage an opportunity came my way to delve into the world of movement direction. The big difference being I was now working with actors instead of dancers and the huge revelation for me was how much I absolutely loved doing it. The rest as they say is history. 

Who or what inspires you? 

I am constantly being inspired by those I work with. Directors, actors, voice coaches, fight directors – the list is extensive. Every job gives me a new insight into different methods of practice. It’s an eye opening and humbling journey where I get to admire the talents of my peers which in turn keeps pushing me to strive to be better. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out as a Movement Director? 

I think the idea of growing your network is essential. If people don’t know who you are then THEY DONT KNOW WHO YOU ARE. So working on projects whether assisting or shadowing is great in terms of a learning experience but also in terms of putting your face out there. 

What has it been like working on Equus? 

Equus has proven to be a very collaborative experience. The director is very open to exploration and the actors have followed suit by also being very active in the process of devising. It’s been wonderful stepping into the rehearsal room each day not really knowing what might be conjured up. 

What’s next for you? 

Aah the infamous ‘what’s next for you’ question. I’ll answer that more from the stand point of human being and less so from movement director. On my to do list after opening night are my three Rs: Rest, Relaxation and some Reading.