James Batchelor (b.1992) is a Choreographer and Performer from Canberra, Australia. His work is known for its visual clarity, architectural sensitivity to space and rhythmic playfulness. James' movement is hypnotically focused and detailed drawing audiences into a contemplative and imaginative realm. His practice is collaborative, spanning mediums of dance, film, music and sculpture. The result is highly original and immersive performances of impact and scale that resonate with audiences internationally.
Artist Statement 2020:
'Working with dance and the body for me at this time is a desire to move away from meaning or narrative making and to instead initiate speculative conversations that are not within the realm of any one language or code. I aim to use this expanded sense of dialogue to make playful and curious contexts for collective contemplation and meditation on uncanny and slippery phenomena. I would like to create experiences that gently unsettle and re-orientate perspective by offering a spectrum of sensory possiblities, particularly at the slower, softer, smaller end. This could function as a potential antidote to feelings of overstimulation or excess, but also to find value in subtle details and intimate moments.
A recurring curiosity in my work is the embodied state of framing or situating the body in relation to the space within and around it. This has grown from working deeply with the idea of the body as mapping or map, and the experience of performing my works in a wide variety of physical contexts from proscenium, to gallery and other unique found spaces. In every performance there is necessarily a re-mapping, re-spacing and translation taking place. The audience, whether they are seated or free-standing, also become aware of their own activity in measuring, scaling and framing.
Yet perhaps this is just a strategy for becoming momentarily connected to the background activity that the body is already conciously or unconsciously engaged with. In my work this can be both present and distant, with the possibility to drift away from linear and mathematical thoughts to something more nonsensical and opaque. For example, what if the body in space could be experienced as a permeable spatio-temporal zone with telekentic power or as a gravitational force? This would require collapsing or expanding away from the human scale and attuning our senses to the invisble, inaudible yet somehow still touchable.'
Born in Canberra, he grew up as part of the QL2 Quantum Leap Youth Ensemble and later moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts. Upon graduating, he received the VCA Graduate Mentors Scholarship and was the youngest ever recipient of the Dancehouse Housemate residency. This launched his choreographic career, winning a Green Room Award for his first major work Island.
In 2016 he was invited by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies to join a two-month scientific expedition at sea to sub-Antarctic Heard and McDonald Islands. This incredible experience led to the creation of Deepspace, which premiered in Dance Massive 2017 and has since toured to 21 cities around the world to contexts such as Centre Pompidou (Paris and Malaga), MONA (Hobart), Vitalstatistix (Adelaide), Canberra Theatre Centre, Tanz im August (Berlin), Bassano del Grappa (Italy), Tramway (Glasgow) and December Dance (Brugge).
James is a two-time recipient of a Keir Choreographic Award commission, as well as commissions from the National Portrait Gallery of Australia Smooth Translation and Chunky Move Next Move Redshift (touring to Paris in 2020).
In 2019 James was chosen among a field of several hundred applications to be part of the prestigious Aerowaves mobility program in Europe with Hyperspace, which has now been presented in over 20 contexts including Dance Massive (Melbourne), Canberra, London, Paris, Lithuania, Helsinki, Norway, Ljubljana, Limassol, Prague, Ostend, Luxembourg and Glasgow.
James also has a dedicated teaching and creative practice working with youth. He has worked with and mentored Australian youth dance companies such as Quantum Leap, Stompin, Drill and Yellow Wheel. In 2019 he received a major commission from QL2 to create a main-stage production Proscenium. Together with collaborator Bek Berger, he led a series of in-depth creative workshops with youth aged 6-20 as part of the Aerowaves Offspring program in Helsinki, Bassano del Grappa and Malmo.
As a performer James has collaborated with some of the leading choreographers in Australian dance such as Anouk van Dijk (Chunky Move), Antony Hamilton, Prue Lang, Stephanie Lake and Sue Healey.