26 January 2011, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Heidi De Raad
Artistic Director Sharon Watson’s Melt sees elements colliding as dancers swoop and glide across the stage in a graceful, beautiful piece which explores the vertical as much as the horizontal. Set to the distinctive, evocative music of Mercury Music Prize nominees Wild Beasts, this elegant mix of aerial dance and innovative contemporary choreography merges the floor and the space above to create a breath-taking, visually stunning new work.
The Times, October 2012
The Guardian, October 2012
Sunday Express, January 2011
Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon danced with Spiral and Extemporary Dance Theatre before joining Phoenix as a dancer from 1989 to 1997. Whilst there she worked with choreographers such as Michael Clarke, Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller, Darshan Singh Bhuller and Philip Taylor. She was also heavily involved in Phoenix’s education programmes and delivery.
Sharon choreographed Never Still and Shaded Limits for Phoenix as well as creating new works for the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, National Youth Dance Company and Union Dance. In 1996 she choreographed a piece specially commissioned for the opening ceremony of the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Her own company ABCD was formed in 1998. Focusing largely on working with live music, ABCD has toured both nationally and internationally.
Returning to Phoenix in 2000 as the company’s Rehearsal and Tour Director, Sharon toured extensively in the UK and USA for 6 years. In 2006 she embarked upon a fellowship with the Clore Leadership Programme for which her secondment took her to the Sage Gateshead where she delivered a Choreographers and Composers course. Sharon also continued her freelance work mentoring emerging artists, lecturing in vocational dance schools and delivering bespoke training programmes.
Danced to Leeds Rhinos’ anthem Hold On, composed by Carl Davis, Sharon created and delivered Dancing with Rhinos in 2008 as part of the regional cultural Olympiad for Yorkshire. Forming part of the practice research for her Performance Works MA from Leeds Metropolitan University, the piece was based on the game of rugby and performed by a mixed group of professional dancers and members of the community.
In 2008 Sharon was one of 26 aspiring leaders from around the globe selected to attend Dance East’s fourth Rural Retreat, an intensive four day think-tank exploring the challenges of the role of Artistic Directors in the 21st century. Prior to taking up post at Phoenix she also spent eight months as Director of Learning and Access at Northern Ballet Theatre.
Sharon was appointed as the 7th Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre in May 2009 and in 2010 was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s Women to Watch, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK selected by a distinguished panel made up of figures from the cultural and creative industries. Since returning to the company Sharon has choreographed Fast Lane for Phoenix’s Ignite tour, Melt for Phoenix’s Reflected programme and re-worked Never Still into Never 2 Still. She is currently undertaking Leadership Advance, funded by Arts Council England.
Formed in 2002 in Kendal but now hailing from Leeds, Wild Beasts released Limbo, Panto, the first of their critically acclaimed albums on Domino Records, in 2008. The band’s follow up, Two Dancers, featured in many publications 'best of 2009' lists and was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize, the music featured in Melt is taken from this album. The band released their third album Smother in May 11.
Michael is a partner in the lighting consultancy Eye for Detail. He specialises in designing for dance. He has had numerous commissions throughout Britain, Europe and South Africa, and his work has spanned designs for touring companies, site-specifics and installations. He has created designs for Rambert Dance Company, The Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Javier De Frutos, Ashley Page, Athina Vahla, Protein Dance Company, Shobana Jeyasingh, Hofesh Shechter, Rafael Bonachela, Charles Linehan, CandoCo, the re –opening event at the Royal Festival Hall and many others.
Michael also conducts courses in lighting design at Tertiary, BA and MA level, in London, Denmark and South Africa. He has taught lighting master classes for the British Council in Kazakhstan.