Exciting new work from our Artistic Associate Jamaal Burkmar

18 Jan 2021

Jamaal Burkmar joined Phoenix as our Associate Artist last October. Despite his short time with the company, he has made a significant impact and has brought with him a fresh approach to studio work. Those who follow us on social media will have seen snippets of this approach, through the production of reels we published recently, which were choreographed and filmed by Jamaal.

We’re excited to see the long lasting impact of his work with the dancers come to fruition through a new piece of work. ‘From Nothing’ is a piece rooted in the musical practice of Jamaal and his company Extended Play. The work takes inspiration from the Buddhist Monks who ritualistically dismantle the sand mandalas they create, serving as a reminder of the impermanence of life. Using the sounds of the ‘Fleet Foxes’ as the starting point, this work only exists in the way that it chooses, in response too and for the people who come to see it.

The only things that remain for other performances are small structures of choreography finely tuned to very specific parts of the music, how the dancers find their way into those moments are to be constantly discovered at each performance.

‘From Nothing’ as it currently exists is not only a piece of work that can be viewed from the outside. The strong improvisational core to the work means that it is experiential as well. In sharing in both a shortened but heightened version of process and the eventual product, dancers around the country can participate in an occasionally beautiful, ugly, frustrating, healing, carefree, risk aware experience.

The dancers are currently on furlough leave but they will be returning to the studio in February to complete the filming of the works for the digital programme.

Jamaal has also overseen the creation of three digital pieces of work as part of our new digital programme. The digital programme is aims to support new artists and support the production of digital dance content. We invited three emerging/early career choreographers, Carlos J Martinez, Kennedy Murtanga and Miguel Altunaga to work with the dancers in the studio, bringing their own original ideas and concepts. Following the studio period, all three choreographers were commissioned to produce short films which are currently in the process of being made. More information about these short films will be revealed in due course, including a release date. You can find out more about the choreographers below

Carlos J Martinez

Born in Cuba, Carlos graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Ballet de Cuba in Havana taking part in various competitions and international dance festivals and working with many established choreographers and dancers including Fernando Alonso, Carlos Acosta, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. On joining “Ballet de Camagüey” in Cuba he danced soloist roles in Coppelia, Giselle, Flores en Genazo.  After “Ballet de Camagüey” Carlos joined “Danza Contemporanea de Cuba” where he performed works by Sasha Waltz, Rafael Bonachela, Mats Ek and Itzik Galili amongst others, receiving the “Luna” award for his role in Carmina Burana at the National Auditorium in Mexico City. During this time Carlos began to teach professional dancers and to create his own work. He went on to be a founder member of two projects, Ebony Dance Company and MalPaso Dance Company where he became Artistic Director, Choreographer and Principal Dancer collaborating with the Joyce Theatre in New York and National Ballet of Cuba.

Additionally, Carlos was awarded a special nomination at the Iberamericano Ballet “Alicia Alonso” competition for his role in Anoxia by Osnel Delgado and became a finalist in the Gran Prix Vladimir Malakhov for his choreography Equilibrium. During this time Carlos was offered several scholarships for companies in France and the USA. Afterwards he worked as a freelance practitioner in Scotland where he worked with Janis Claxton.

Carlos joined Phoenix Dance Theatre in November 2016. He is a member of the International Dance Council (CID). Carlos’ film is in collaboration with Company Dancer Manon Adrianow.

Miguel Altunaga

Born in Havana, Cuba, Miguel trained at the National School of Art in Havana. After six years with the Cuban National Contemporary Dance Company where he performed as a principal dancer, Altunaga moved to the UK and joined Rambert in 2007.

At Rambert, Miguel has performed works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Wim Vandekeybus, Hofesh Shechter, Wayne McGregor, Gary Stewart, Merce Cunningham, Christopher Bruce, Itzik Galili , Siobhan Davies, Doug Varone, Barak Marshall, Lucinda Childs, Marion Motin, Alexander Whitley, Ben Duke, Shobana Jeyasingh, Malgorzata Dzierzon, Andonis Foniadakis, Mark Baldwin and Benoit Swan-Pouffer.

Miguel has worked with other international choreographers including Mats Ek, Steve Paxton, Joaquin Sabaté, Jan Linkens, Georges Céspedes, Julio Cesar Iglesias, Samir Akika and Exedia Dance Company (Greece).

As a choreographer, Miguel has created work for the National School of Ballet, Cuba, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and for the bands Simply Red and The Zutons. He created Memoriafor Carlos Acosta at the London Coliseum and was commissioned to create Derrumbe for Acosta’s Cubania evening at The Royal Opera House.

He was commissioned by Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, to create Dark Eye for the Deloitte Ignite Festival 2014 (The Royal Opera House). In 2016 he was commissioned by the Tate Modern to create a work which was shown alongside the retrospective exhibition of Cuban artist, Wifredo Lam, and throughout 2016/2017 Miguel collaborated on a trilogy of choreographic works with German visual artist Michaela Zimmer.

He has also created five works for Rambert’s Evening of New Choreography and one of these pieces, Don’t Think About It, joined Rambert’s repertoire. In 2018 he was commissioned by Danza Contemporanea de Cuba to create a piece for the company titled Mas alla del Polvo (Beyond Dust).

Photo: Deborah Jaffe

Kennedy Junior Muntanga

Kennedy Junior Muntanga is a movement artist born in Ndola, Zambia where he resided until he was 7. Moving to Leeds (UK), Kennedy’s passion for movement came from his wholesome relationship between dance and culture. The importance of dance was already embedded in him through his African heritage, which he began to study from the age of 12. Kennedy furthered his training and graduated in Ballet and Contemporary Dance at the Rambert School in July 2019. So far, he has worked for companies such as Phoenix Dance Theatre, Humanhood, Robert Cohan, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Alesandra Seutin & Raman Schlemmer. Kennedy enjoys jazz music, and the blending of cultures and choreography which he hopes to explore further in the future.