Sometimes there is a surprise change of direction: a casting of sticks. Whilst apparently on an assured route via artistic recognition to a research/academic/commentator status Matthew Hawkins 'jumped ship', auditioned for Parisian choreographer Blanca Li and danced in her troupe for several seasons (2006/8). This was convulsive but also logical as he always enjoyed appearing in other people's creations, including those by Siobhan Davies, Claire Russ, Ian Spink, Rose English and Michael Clark (plus films by Derek Jarman and Sally Potter) Following the boost of performing with Blanca Li, Matthew remains in training to maintain his performative sinew, insight and gravitas! He is open to being cast.

Can a vast, populous and powerfully energised nation also somehow register as "elsewhere"? Since 2003 Hawkins has been a regular guest choreographer and teacher in The People's Republic of China. Cultural traditions (and their infrastructures) vary widely enough to make direct transference of performing arts events impractical (except in a 'flagship' sense) yet it is nevertheless intriguing how embedded Matthew's China projects have felt. He has worked in universities in Kunming and in Chongqing (China's fastest-growing megalopolis) and been engaged by the Guangdong Modern Dance Company in Guangzhou. In each circumstance he found he could give his all, amid environs of consistent probity and skill. In the considerable time Hawkins has spent in China, memorable (and well documented) interfaces have taken place with sculptors, installationists, photographers and video artists. In Chongqing his host and ally the choreographer Rong Tao helped instigate a strand of spontaneous and official performance events, on and off-campus. With visual artists Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen a long-duration performance event ('Human Scale' at Sha He Ding, Guangzhou 2004) emerged out of profound and uniquely cyclic collaboration. As a recent guest of Sichuan Institute of Fine Art he researched vital new ideas that may at last find their outcome in the UK.

"Displacement catalyses new thinking. An unanticipated double-booking sent me in search of alternative working space during my 2008 visit to Chongqing. Nomadically I marked out some new territory in an active painting and sculpture studio in in Huang Jia Ping - the city's artists quarter. It was well worth tolerating the building's noise and bustle - even the dust, the blowtorch action and the fibereglass fumes - because of the vibrant energies and artwork on the scene. Here was real interdisciplinary practice and dispatch. Welcoming the spectrum of events and soaking it up like a sponge, I made my own mark. After training (a daily 'litmus test' of my own shaping-up in the environment) I opted to place small objects (fresh vegetables from the market - delightful) in various micro-locations in a repeated sequence, all in the cause of mapping the space. I felt a unity with all the goings-on: a kinship with utensils, materials and workers. I blended right in. On subsequent days I would recall and repeat the mapping moves, relocated (and having otherwise consumed the 'small objects') in the empty space of a dance studio across town. The challenge was to be physically accurate as to the portable 'geography' that had arisen in the multi-purpose object-strewn workshop and also to engender and embody something of the 'content' of that space even in the neutral dance studio locale. There is a textured way in which I might pull this off, as was captured on video by local film maker Xue Jinliang. These sessions were fruitful and yielded great solo-performance material, as played much later at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2009) My performance blended physical and immaterial information, but was there an elephant in the castle? This is a question worth asking, not least in respect of memory.

Recollection and how this functions in dancing is a potent fascination. This is very current. All sorts of people are struggling to retain memory function: dancers have always grappled with this - and they have their ways. I have been dancing a long time and I started at an age when my abilities to learn and recall were just forming but latterly the kind of methodology that gripped me in Chongqing (and panned out so rewardingly) has upped my consciouness of the mechanics and methodologies of movement recall. I am seriously pondering wider applications. Isn't there a value in rolling these matters out to the layman? It might be particularly beneficial to identify social groupings under pressure (elders, drug therapy patients, those experiencing learning difficulties) or pursue therapeutic avenues in a broad context."
Recent Work


Very happily, I landed a part in a new show by choreographer Natasha Gilmore. The piece was to be made in Scotland. I migrated there, unsure as to whether Glasgow or Edinburgh would become my home town. Staying undecided, I lived out of a suitcase and through a plethora of shifts and tasks. I hadn't played anybody's dad before, nor had I created a character (Adrian) largely defined by his cardigan and slacks. Aided by Ms Gilmore and abetted by her team of theatre directors (of Voxmotus Company) this fellow emerged to feature in A Conversation With Carmel: an ensemble work, with tones of magic realism. We had a run through Spring, a second  outing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a third turn through October/November. In each venue local extroverts joined us to play in key scenes for which we would train them up. It was great to get friendly and embedded. I now know all about Easterhouse, Peebles, Stornoway, Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Paisley: who's there, how to get there - and back.


It was brought home to me that I could be eligible for support from Creative Scotland, to make my own work flourish anew. Securing this proffered fund, I shifted gear and threw fresh energies into residencies in Aberdeen and Edinburgh through the Spring. In the process I spent time in urban spots (precincts and vacant storefronts etc) moving with probity all the while and evolving some kind of new persona. From this catalogue of experience I then performed my newly extracted moves in unusual locales, with a small crew of cohorts. We were up and down Edinburgh's Rose Street, conjuring subtle ambience. We prefigured the lavish live streaming of new ballets, broadcast from Covent Garden and screened on Festival Square, with a site-specific commission of our own - in low-cost low-tech mode amid the Cultural Olympiad. The Edinburgh Science Festival featured my solo work Meander Butternut Squash twinned with Research Question: my piece for the Glasgow-based elders of Scottish Ballet's Regenerate Group. This whole creative phase culminated in Festival Fringe performances of my collaborative duet work Fruitful Ties, with co-dancer/choreographer Steinvor Palsson, in new costumes by PEARL. Significantly, these friends have been muses and colleagues since the 1980's. Fruitful Ties' notes of reunion on new ground felt right as I landed a Choreographic Futures award (again from Creative Scotland) to continue productive developments and fully situate myself in Edinburgh, my new base.

For a dialogue about current and future projects please contact Matthew directly via