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Issue 003  James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight

The challenge at full throttle

James Pett and Travis Clausen-Knight, dancer and choreographer who have danced for 6 years with the award winning and acclaimed choreographer, Wayne McGregor’s company, are budding artists hailing from England. They will present the world premiere of their triple bill Elevation, their first independent work since leaving earlier this year in Shibuya, Tokyo on May 21st with Fabula Collective, the platform formed by stage designer Yukiko Tsukamoto.


Alexandre Magazine made an exclusive interview and photo session with these two artists as well as Tsukamoto, talking with their vision on art and dance, and what are they aiming to bring to the world.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

The Beginning of Fabula Collective


Yukiko Tsukamoto    We met in Australia, when we worked for another project with another choreographer, Tim Podesta. He approached me to do the show together, and then he asked me is there anything you want to put and that was the start for Edward Albee's ‘The Zoo Story’, and then I said I want to make that into another piece, he said he got some awesome dancers which was James and Travis, who he worked with and that was before we approached for “The Zoo”.


Travis Clausen-Knight  We premiered our work “Informal Between”, and Yukiko contacted us and said she wanted to carry on with our work, our collaboration. She had this vision of creating this company in the UK. It was great to be part of that too. We started to create work and see what will happen. We had a lot of discussions. It was this January. We premiered in December, and January is when we really started discussing. And in that conversation we were saying that we want to be choreographers, we have to keep working for projects, we were working in the company with Wayne McGregor for 6 years, in that time we were all establishing ourselves as individual artists, making a page of producing new work and speak to Yuki as well, knowing that she was very keen to bring out new work, start of making a new page, of what it was to produce work, and as we were particularly sharing the interest in Japanese culture, especially the traditional ones and the artistic side, and I thought that there was such richness to find in such as religion, traditions, even the rituals, things in daily life in Japan, and I shared that with Yuki, and we had an idea of coming here. Japan tour will be the first official performance as Fabula Collective.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

James Pett   Reaching that gap between European, western dance with South East Asia, I think bridging that gap is what we all are interested in.  


Travis   When we were speaking with Yuki, this came the idea of “Oh, why don't we actually go and try to go to Japan”. We love the idea obviously. As we said we were really interested in coming here and finding collaboration with Japanese artists and start connecting eastern worlds, and for us particularly contemporary dances, contemporary world is so different. In China it is different, Hong Kong it is different, everyone has a particular signature, and we were thinking particularly in Asia and in Japan it is very experimental. Very interesting way of coaching movement and thought, so we were quite intrigued to go to Asia for meeting dancers here, and we were like, wouldn't it be amazing if we could go and meet all these different artists, different collaborators, technology, visual arts, and get to know them and start to do different ways of collaborating. And then, we decided to come and perform. This all happened in the space of one month! It was very quick. I think it was very true, a very bright feeling to do such a thing because this was actually what we wanted to do. We wanted to be taking that step towards where we are, our future, we were structuring our own way, going out to this environment, and it all felt very right, and Yuki was so passionate about showcasing us , because it is quite difficult to get into these days, and artists struggle a lot to get out, especially in the west, Europe and UK particularly, there is all those established artists, they strive for a lot longer to get more support, because they find a lot of risk to take the younger artists, to having the people who want to produce the works, to share the same passion as we do, is really a bigger thing to do, so we just thought let's do it, it is the right thing to do. You have to be brave to make changes. 


James   After “The Zoo” and the show in December, it felt so right, the energy between us so we just gone through it really full throttle as we say, the good energy, it is exciting, right?

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

James was a gymnast representing Great Britain for the World Gymnastrada in 2007, and Travis was born in South Africa, studied dance in the UK and joined Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, performing in his famed “Swan Lake”. How did they get into dance? 


James   I was a gymnast before I was dancing. I don't have a very stereotypical way to dance, which is starting very young like 5 and start in classical. My main training when I was growing up was being an athlete, competing as a gymnast and swimming a lot. Then I did my first ballet class at 17. So that's considered quite late. Fortunately I had the body, the training already so it was just a matter of me understanding the language in my body, I worked really hard. I got into a dance academy in London; I studied there for 3 years. I got my first job when I graduated.


I did a little bit of dancing as a gymnast, do some performances with music, acrobatics, I did a little bit. In my final year of high school I did a little extra course, to do dance or drama. I thought I would like to do dance, and it was just once a week, in the weekend. My teacher said you have much talent; you have to go to London to audition. My mom said you have to go to university but I tried to audition and got into the academy.


Travis   I saw my sister performing as a hobby on stage, and I was about 10 years old maybe, and she must have been 11, and I thought this was one of the basic things. When I was a child I was very active, playing with my shadow, my parents tried to put me into sports, asking me and I said Ok I'll try it. They tried to put me into football but I was standing at the goal place to dancing. And then at about 10 or 11 I decided to take a few classes. It was something to do after school. And it got to be more serious as I took more and I got interested. My teachers said you have to be doing this; you really should go for it. I didn't understand it but my parents ask me if I want to go audition. and I was like OK so they took me to Royal Ballet and started weekend classes there and very enjoyed it. And then I left and went to audition for other schools, my parents spoke with my teachers. And then I auditioned for a school which is in Tring, beautiful countryside. I got into that at the age of 13 and I graduated there at 19. But I have to admit I was thinking of quitting dance. Because the way I grew up was judging what I want to experience and if I want to do that. So dancing was one of those very creative places and I got to experience dance. When I was younger I was mostly focused on ballet, and then you got to experience contemporary, and I got to love contemporary, contemporary was seemingly easy for me at that time, ballet was very, very tricky because I was different from all the other boys at school, I was very flexible and feminine in a way, being able to move like a prince was different from me, moving like men while I was more like Siegfried and I found that very annoying, but the teachers put me in the same place trying to make me do what they did. And then contemporary was better in that respect, because it was very free and I got to experience choreography as well and that saved everything emotionally. 

When I was about 15 it got very difficult, because there were, we had exams and they were very intense, but I was always marked very low, very bottom of the marks, which very strange because they were telling me I was quite good at dance, they were saying I can do very well. So they got that I was skipping class, but I could be very creative, and I had a meeting with my teachers and my parents and they asked me why, because I am not good enough for dance because my marks are low, my they said they keep my marks low but you could be successful at the end of this which confused me a lot, but that changed my mindset, that hard work meant something. So I felt, I am going to keep going with this, I will be passionate about this and enjoy them, and then from there I enjoy the final years till I graduated at 19. It really came something about my mind, and I eventually joined Matthew Bourne after that. 

I performed in Japan with Matthew's “Swan Lake”. I am happy to be back in Japan doing my work and expression, it is a place I am always eager to come back to. I always love Japan from a very young age. I really don't know why actually. That's the strange thing; I was very attracted to everything about it. The creativity and everything they have. For example I love discovering Shintoism. It fascinated me, because all the creatures, and they have so much thought into that. It is incredible to have.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine
James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

The two dancers met when they joined Company Wayne McGregor in 2013. Wayne McGregor, a resident choreographer at the Royal Ballet, is a well sought out artist and in full demand over the world. He is known to combine technology and science to choreography, and collaborates with many artists outside the dance world, such as Thom Yorke of Radiohead and the artist Olafur Eliasson. He also choreographed for many movies such as “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“ and “Fantastic Beast”. 


James   I think I joined Company Wayne McGregor 6 months after Travis. We just instantly, had a similar, we were both hungry and open to growing as an artist, I think we just quickly related, I mean we both worked very hard, so we quickly shared that passion and eventually friendship grew. 


Travis   We were very much the same age, and also similar interests wanted to explore, and it was still a new company to me in a way, many of the artists were older and we had our first creation together, “ATOMOS”. It was a whole new experience for both of us which was quite interesting because it connected us in a way, we went on tour and we were like, “Let's get lost in that city” when I was on tour I was terrified to go outside.


James   The company tours hugely, very international.


Travis   It probably does 3 shows a year in London or the UK in general but massively international.  


James   We did more than 6 years with Wayne. It was an incredible time, very creative, very inspiring man. And I think also very encouraging of individuality. In many dance company they shape you in a box, a mold and he was very much really promoting and pushing out individual style of movement.


Travis   There was only 10 dancers in the company. Often it was 5 men and 5 women. but every single one of them is completely individual. 


James  He treats all of his dancers as soloists. There is no kind of hierarchy system. 


Travis   When it comes of creation he really seeks out the individual way so even if it is unison it is never like a perfect unison like everybody doing the exact movement.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

James  I think what is great about Wayne is that as a choreographer he is so open minded to collaborate and he focuses on collaborating with different artists, Different people we also get involved in that world as well so we weren't just doing performance in the theatre, we also got involved in fashion, music videos, films. Project-wise we did quite a few different things; we did a fashion show for Gareth Pugh in New York.


Travis James particularly worked with Wayne on lot of his movement research for a lot of films, Tarzan, Harry Potter, Fantastic Beast. We have been quite involved with many things with him, not just company work. 


James I think we are definitely influenced by the way we worked with Wayne. And I think the whole idea behind the brain and the challenge, your second nature movement conflicts so you go against your natural habits. Through the mathematics and science he tries to go against your natural pathway


Travis   So it forces you to have to think separately. He is very interested in the mind and the body and technology, and in a way he is fascinated by technology as a body and a body as technology, as machines, And in that respect he is almost like quite interesting way of approaching it. a lot of his choreography has a focus on maybe the emotional side or something else, he very much likes the concept of our connection to a machinery, through the ages as well. Because we always have a very strange cooperation in a way with machines nowadays, technology like boats, cars before it might have been like a printing press, it has a mechanical nature to it. The body by nature is a machine. And that is quite fascinating, me personally when I was young I loved anatomy, when I joined the company, the movement was so anatomical, you get to see the extremity what can go, because a lot of his movement is extreme. Your back hurts the first few weeks. But is is really jutting out your body extremely, fast, slow, such height degrees, so our potential absolutely grows. And we take a lot of ballet classes and high level contemporary classes, and the work requires a lot of particular technique, depending on the piece you are doing as well. They all have their own language. “Atomos” is very different from “Far”. “Entity” is very different from “Tree of Codes”, every piece that we done all had a very unique language between them, still with Wayne's project and again the uniqueness of the body each time we form a movement uniquely.


James   For me “Tree of Codes” was my favorite in the works I have done with Wayne. It is a massive project, which was a part of the Manchester International Festival which is a huge festival, with art and music, it is a huge celebration. They bring big music artists as well such as Coldplay. And part of that we were headlining the festival in 2015. It was Wayne McGregor's company and 6 dancers from Paris Opera Ballet. The music was by Jamie xx. It was 3 collaborations, with the artist, choreographer and musician. We have done it in London, Sadler's Wells, York, Palais Garnier in Paris.


Travis  We are going back as guest artists for “Tree of Codes”, Bastille in Paris so that will be quite exciting. 


James   “Autobiography” was our final work with the company. It premiered in 2017.


Travis   Again this was a very different creation. I think all of his creations are different. “Atomos” was an interesting thing for me, because it involved a piece of technology inside in the creation. it was made for this giant screen, this moving shape. It was becoming the 11th dancer in the room. It developed movement, take movement from it. It was like human, shapes of a body, and it was given a similar task, what we were doing. Then it would move and develop and move and it kept developing for 20 times, so it was almost like us doing a step. Going back and re-doing a step and going back. And we had a lot of tasks, 2D and 3D as well. So it was a very good experience. By the end it was almost developing conscious. So it had patterns and comforts. So it was for us, literally like being with another person. 


James  We started to collaborate outside the company; I think 2 or 3 years ago. We started to make work together, started experimenting after hours. We had a couple of weeks off. I think the first work we made together officially was at the Royal Ballet's platform called “Draft Works”. That's where young artists from the Royal Ballet make work, Wayne asked us actually to make work as he is the resident choreographer, it would be interesting making there. We made a duet for that and I think from there we started. He was very aware that we were growing to go outside. And we said we are moving on and he said yes.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

James and Travis discussed what inspires them on their creation and performances, with such passion.


James   Life. That's all I can say. If I was to give one word it is life. But I think that our work in particular, Elevation is about human connection. it is about what we share together, because it is co-choreographed, it is not just one person making it is sharing, sensitive as well. We are really interested in capturing emotion. How that sort waves to the audience. How that energy passes to the audience.


Travis   I think the explanation is to be human. A lot nowadays lot of the choreography is made to be extreme, a lot about what is the most powerful thing you see on stage, not about the artistry and connection sometimes which is absolutely wonderful to be seen, but we are not seeing the connection so what’s that to us, especially in a company like Wayne that we are doing extreme things. Having some of the ability to stop and think about what it is, what makes a human human, why do we do things, why to we see things, how do we feel things, or the very relationships we have with each other, the brief moments we have, or the extended moments of time, it is fascinating. 

A kind of very interesting thing for me particularly is that if I could look back on my work 50, 60 years’ time, before I die, my passion will be able to like get all the choreography before I die and create a human being from it. So it is also like, at least take a view about the body or about the mind but what kind of mind do I see, the visible side or the reflective side or is it the emotional side, then there are spiritual aspects people leaves, these to me are layers, it is almost that at least you can really get there, but that's makes more enticing, because almost in everything there is something humanities, well I think it is the other inspiration for us is how can we make the audience feel like they may or how is it that they can sit there and associate themselves what they have seen. Much like reading a book, associate yourself with the character, you put yourself into that one character, even though it was not written about you, you feel as it was. 

And I think it is such a wonderful thing to try experience to try to create for the audience so they feel almost connected to them personally, they leave almost changed by it. Because dance and art in general has the ability to change so many people, shift lives or events, and in that way, doing a piece that makes one re-think of how to live, or makes ambition, fundamentally what humanity is. It resonates with one's life. That is where we want to go. The challenge for us choreographers is to create the depth, create something that people can see, even if don't see what we want to see, they see something else so deeply. Re-connect to that vision a bit, that we have done the right kind of thing. Especially they feel moved about, this is what we feel about, passionate, rather being I don't see anything. And to witness the actual piece you could be moved, it really changes everything.


James   Everything inspires me. I love paintings, I love looking at artwork, I love fashion, clothes, anything that is creative. I think art and creativity is all connected in some strange way, even though they are different things they all come from within. If you are open-minded, you can take everything.


Travis   An artist explores from different roots, for example Wayne discovers mathematics and science. For example I love tradition and seeing cultures of people. Discovering what life means in that way. James really loves exploring the emotions, drawing another from himself and that it's incredible because that is another way of drawing the mind. So yes, everything is.


James   And music is a huge inspiration.


Travis   And as time goes on the technology changes, the ability of what we create with these things, music is very simple, but most of the time the instruments developed, now we have programs and vocaloids. It is fascinating that can go, and even dance can go in the future.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

Yukiko, James and Travis have many plans for Fabula Collective coming. 


Yukiko   We have a lot of ideas for the next project. There is a Japanese soprano who does leading roles in operas in Europe, and she came all the way to London to watch the Zoo. She fell in love with these two dancers. And she said can I work with them? But it is very difficult to find a fine line between opera singing and dance to be equal because it can clash. I have approached the director and choreographer Will Tuckett because I have worked with him before and he showed interest. I am hoping he can balance the 3 different art forms together to create new art. And there are also two musicians we want to work with who are friends of Travis, and one of them is a pianist.


Travis   Not just projects but there are partnerships we are building. We want to build them in Japan too. One city in Japan we want to visit and there is one connection in Italy. There one in Scotland, where they are doing residencies for artists who want to create. Italy there is a new residency space with studios which I was fortunate to go, see and connect with. They offered us residency space there as well. And then we have a lot of other companies that we have worked with in the past that we want to keep cover with us and relationships going, and we are finding ways to put them into action. There is a lot of planning.

They already have a number of experiences collaborating with top artists, such as the legendary ballerina Alessandra Ferri and Marie Agnes Gillot.


James   Last year, Wayne was doing a project for the BBC 2, we were filming in the National Portrait Gallery, dancing inside. And Wayne asked me to dance with Alessandra Ferri. .The choreographer Charlotte Edmonds is mentored by Wayne as a young choreographer and she created a duet for me and Alessandra in the galleries and that was so cool. It is a career highlight for me to be sure. She is incredibly expressive. I was very nervous at the beginning because she is a big star but she was incredibly warm, very easy to work with, and very clear. If something was not right, she was very open and very clear so it was easy. It was filmed and broadcasted on BBC 2.

Also in “Tree of Codes” we worked with Marie Agnes Gillot. Fortunately Wayne worked with her and us a lot. We had duets and trios together. 


Travis   “Tree of Codes”, we were in kind of discussion with Olafur Eliasson. We were doing trio works with her so we wish in the future we can work with her.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

Their performance in Tokyo is consisted of three works, “Informal Between” their co-choreographed piece that premiered at Sadler’s Wells in London last December, and two world premieres. James’s solo “Before the Law” based on Kafka’s novel with the same name, and Travis’s solo “Salt and Water” inspired by the Japanese religion Shinto. 


James   We were to perform “The Zoo” which was 45 minutes long and Yuki needed one more piece of work to fill the evening, so they asked us to make our work. So that was how it was made, we made “Informal Between” which is a duet. It was quite a hard process because we were still working with Wayne, we would work with Wayne until 5 or 6 and then we would work until 9 o'clock at night on our own so it was really long day, and we put a lot of effort into it. It was exhausting but worth it. We had to find, we had to connect to make it work. I really nice story is that Yukiko came to the studio and I think it was Friday night or something, it was really late and no one was in the studio. And she sat on a little chair, and she watched it for the first time. She cried. That's how Yukiko approached us; “I want to work with you, really interested in the work”. So we are actually very excited to bring it back and do it in Japan. It is about the relationship of two people and taken from the influence of our own relationship, through the years of being with Wayne.  I think the thing is, dancers connect in a deep way, and dance we share through physicality. And it is a feeling you can't just describe in words. You become so entwined and united. You are listening and feeling your movement, and I think that's how “Informal Between” grew in a way.


Travis   At that time we were very much interested in human relationships. Using our relationship was a great knowledge bank. Choreographers and artists are standing and discovering things, so we have something that we know about, quite interesting, and also ask questions constantly what that means to the people, for example your relationship to me and your relationship to James. Experience through that. the energy between us as well, and the little story that can happen because a second the relationship almost a lifetime of experience without realizing so we realized a lot of that developed. 


James   I think we work so closely together, so much, the research and what we were exploring that about our life and humanity in a way, how we connect and I think the audience can feel that, and I think that was, as sort of touch the audience and that is what we are interested in, to make people feel something related to it. 

Our conflicts are in the work as well. “Informal Between” takes you on a journey to individuals and how we try to connect obviously. Naturally you have moments you quite not meet, so we try to show that through. I mean the opening section you'll see we play a lot with lights as well, it going dark and the audience quite cannot understand what’s happening, and that gives you the feeling of there are not light kind of things. It is a journey thought the lighting, thought the choreography, through the emotions, I don't want to reveal too much but lots of things are happening.


Travis   Each element was brought together by what we want to say, the costumes hint about a lot of things, relationship, memory, the lighting was composed in such a way creates splitters, events, rather than being just about looking good. And the music really plays this tide, which is quite nice. each element carries a message. Every element in the performance plays an aspect. Not trying to overtake one for the other, the costume is able to left by itself to be worn an element that strikes you, gives you a sensitive feeling, you can play the lights out, somebody be aware of something, environment, same for the music, if you listen to music you create an environment that resonates, and the dancing can be done in total silence, and again, the whole

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

James   It is always evolving. I think in work coming for us it is always, the work keeps developing. Not necessary to change the movement directly but we constantly build within it. It gets deeper as well. 


Travis   We start realizing more and more what is it about. Most of the environment on stage in the Noh theatre is so different, size wise, the shape of it. We are also keeping in mind about the traditional aspects. It is a nice experiment. 


James   Yuki commissioned “Before the Law“ to me, "I read the story and thought it would be perfect for you James", and I read it, and it was very interesting because it was very short so it is quite metaphorical and idea behind it so I was very interested. I made a 8 minute solo based on this story, very raw and very much showing conflict within an individual so it is really coming from inside me. It is that kind of conflict and battle. So you will see a process of me going thorough that the character gets older of age through the work I try to show aging, physicality. And it has quite a sad ending as well. This one really pushed my physicality as well. 


Travis   On “Salt and water” we were discussing about the essence of the work and a lot of ideas of what I want to create and then, we were thinking about what I can do in Japan, Yuki gave me more of the idea of costume colors, what we can create with gray. So I had a few days and i was thinking what I can do, I started researching a bit different stories, in relation of Japan and I was very struck by the moment of guilt and sin and evil and corruption was put into the world. and the process of using salt and water as a sense of purification and immediately it came to me, wait a second what if i imagined salt, covered in gray and very messy, and I wet my hand in water, and I just wipe away all that salt, and to me it was exactly what I wanted to do. There wasn't so much of an action, because the idea of what you take on a ritual ancient and you not just see on Japanese culture but a lot of ancient culture, some western rituals are very close to that, even some Catholic and Christian religions and it is a very useful medical thing to do to purify wounds, to do this with salt. That fascinated me was that such an universal aspect, but I also thought, well we must think of something we felt, and the moment of doing that purification it to remove the thing you are guilty about. Remove the idea of sin from your body, you can undertake your ritual and to be able to take the next step and change yourself, more like Shito, aspects of Kami and Ningen, to have a better life. And it was that idea of if I stretched out that reflection because humans look back on, to really witness. If I decide to wipe away that salt, it is not so much the action, it is the distance between that, that reflection and I slowdown from one second to so many seconds, what would I witness?, what experience would it be?, what would my journey be?, what memories will come?, what would I shed afterwards?. So that was the massive drive I wanted to expose. And all the time the images would get stronger. The experience of really expanding the idea of reflection, so the piece itself goes to the idea of shedding in a way of we don't expose ourselves anymore. It was the artist and dancer when we create things physical, and people always expect physical properly. This is perhaps a lot less physical, because I wanted something to be very level and sort of bring out the intimate world of reflecting the moment, so I very much wanted to explore a different way of moving. The use of something is weird, almost like making a duet with someone who does not respond. And at the same time creating a solo for the extra limb, but the limb does not do exactly you want. This is very hard to control. So it is a little bit limited and I carefully choreographed. Because at the same time I wanted to feel the experience on stage, there is choreography but made to experience, so it is almost to risk myself, just not have to worry, okay let the experience be taken care of. 

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

Travis and James are both interested in fashion, and their interests of clothes are reflecting in the costumes. They both have been modelling for several brands. 


James   I don't want to reveal too much, but we worked very closely with Yuki for the costumes, and we had very clear ideas with the colors and the shape, change and the flows of the costumes. We worked a lot with fashion and quite recently, we worked with Wayne on a big project in Florence, Italy with the fashion brand Cos, a big presentation of a new line. That was amazing. Making movements wearing clothes is something we are very interested and want to do in the future. I think now a lot of fashion is slowly going down that road, not just you walk and present the clothes, we are interested in more unique and bring movement so that you can see the clothes in a different way.


Travis   It is interesting that over the few years, we had the chance to work with different designers and make a massive connection. The designer we are working with is a man called Kawakey and he is a Chinese fashion designer based in London, a lot of his clothes explore this, he is very fascinating ways of moving and about sexuality, and all those things that can be worn by anyone. Some of them are creepy see-through, almost like a jellyfish, it is like a whole mix of things. Clothes are almost like identities, things that creates about you, every day you are a new character yourself, and when we were quite young we were always discovering who we are, and see how fashion influences us, we were quite famous humans. But that is not a bad thing, how vanity explores and able to expand who we want to be. As fashion changes as we go more open and fluid as ages as well, that changes all those things, it comes from culture, fashion from one side is different from another, be almost anything you wanted to be, and actually some avant-garde fashion in Asia and Japan is very interesting as well. That is something I would like to explore, the idea you don't know who that person is, by their sex or anything, it is so simple to approach, you can be anyone, and fashion in history influences what people want to be, nowadays men wear more gender fluid clothes, wear dresses, I know a designer who pushes avant-garde fashion for men particularly, human backpacks, all those gothic kind of aspect, and all those influences in the long term, creates a performance for you. We would like to explore fashion in Japan such as Lolita fashion.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

What they think of one another, was quite an interesting question for us and them.


James   He is annoying (laugh) No I don't. Regarding Travis as an artist, nothing short of incredible really, incredibly open-minded, incredibly talented, Travis has the gift of magical movement with body and line and quality, and I think what's great is that he is incredibly creative as well. I think with a lot of dancers have wonderful facility of body but how do you use it on the inside as well, and that is the epitome of Travis.


Travis   I think so many things I can say and so difficult to narrow down. He is very much in touch with exploring his emotions, finding who he is which is not what we do so often, and he uses that in a very creative way, to create very unique movement. Approaches to movements in a very different way and very visceral in that approach, there is so many ways he want to do it. Whether it is soft or very aggressive, or raw, there is so many ways he can do it. For me to watch that is very inspiring, when he wants to do something he really puts his focus down and it is quite impressive, I am very much the opposite. At the same time he is very sincere with people and approaches well with what he wants to do, and very open to what we bring out, because with that ambition we really want to get out the best. We want to able to see the most we can, what we can do to touch people.


James   When you are inspired by someone else, I am willing to be open to share, not single minded in your own approach. This creates a wonderful blossoming vibration.

James Pett & Travis Clausen-Knight ©︎Alexandre Magazine

Although the two artists are quite young, still in their twenties, they are mentoring young talent and coaching budding artists


James   We are doing what we call in the UK a lot of outreach, a lot of programs. I think a lot of these days the way the world is growing in technology, fast paced life, I think it is very important for young people to be creative, and to dance and find another way because for me, even when I was growing up dance gave me, I was very shy when I was young, when I danced I felt free and confident, and I think is there are certain places you can access that and if I can give that to young people to discover something new, I think the magic is there.


Travis   For me school was very difficult, the dance world was very hard, so much discipline, you have to work harder in the sense of not been able to given a chance to do something in the sense of being helped, so, being able to help young people, knowing that they are going next. We are not going to dance up to the age of 60 or something, 


James   It is a good way to escape and be creative. 


Travis   That is why we are so keen to come and work with other artists. The world is so huge and you have to realize your weakness. Realize what you can do, whether people want to use you or not. You should embrace all the time.

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Performing for the first time as Fabula Collective, they certainly want to touch the souls of the Japanese audience and also be inspired by them. 


James   I would definitely love to do collaboration with Japanese fashion designers. 


Travis   I hope they can really discover something new about themselves or find new creatively in their lives, whether they are an artist or not. Find something exciting. How they can take a step to be something new in a way. 


James   For me dance is an expressive art and a life, coming to see a live performance is something of a life, and it will be only once and it will be different, not like a painting on a wall that stays, so it will be a unique experience but I think what we believe is that we want to touch people.  


The two artists James and Travis, with their expressive and lyrical movements quite contrary to the extremeness of McGregor’s choreography, left such deep emotions and insight with their dancing during the photo session. And all the words with such intelligence and open minds touched the hearts of us at Alexandre Magazine. 

With the bright future in front of them, we should look out for this marvelous fascinating talent. Their performance at the Cerulean Tower Noh Theatre on May 21st should not be missed.




James Pett, Choreographer and Dancer

James Pett competed as a gymnast for ten years, representing Great Britain at the World Gymnastrada in Austria in 2007. He trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, graduating in 2011 with a first class BA (Hons) degree, and was awarded The Marion North Award for outstanding achievement in performance. 
From 2011 to 2013, James danced for Richard Alston Dance Company. The performance of the duet James danced in Richard Alston's Unfinished Business was the New York Times critics’ top dance pick for 2013.
James joined Company Wayne McGregor in 2013 until 2019, where he toured several of Wayne McGregor’s works internationally over the years. In 2018, James was invited to work with M&T In Motion formed by Australian choreographer Tim Podesta and Royal Ballet’s Mara Galeazzi. 
James is also a model for W Model Management and a creative ambassador for Eden Court Theatre, in his home town in Inverness, Scotland. James has taken his own work further, teaching and choreographing across Italy and Thailand. 

Travis Clausen-Knight, Choreographer and Dancer

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Travis moved to England and later graduated from the Arts Educational School, Tring Park in 2009. 
Travis has performed with Wayne McGregor, involved in the creations and national and international tours of Atomos (2013), Tree of Codes (2015), Autobiography (2017), as well as a number of other commissions and one off projects during his 6 years with the acclaimed choreographer. 
Travis also worked for Matthew Bourne, as part of the world tour of Swan Lake and featured in the 3D film of the production. He also performed with Tavaziva Dance in their re-mount of Double Take and was part of the creation of Sensual Africa. His other credits include work with A.D. Dance and Combination Dance. 
Travis has also pursued creative work in fashion, featuring in several collections for upcoming brands such as Kawakey, Jamie Elwood and DEMO Fashion as well as in campaigns for Cerruti 1881 and Cos.
Alongside his ambitions to choreograph, Travis commits to mentoring and teaching young creatives through intensive programs and workshops to develop and expand their mental approaches to dance, identity and creativity, which offers to integrate a self-nurturing mindset in their practices.

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