Since his 1960s school days, Robert has enjoyed dancing. In the 70s he discovered the delights of country dancing and ceilidh. In London in the 80s he was introduced to the free-style, improvising, no-alcohol, no-smoking discos such as Whirl-y-gig and the Barefoot Boogie (precursors to the conscious dance trend). In the 90s the revelation was 5 Rhythms. In the 2000s it was the dance club scene.
In 1998, Robert, with the help of friends, organised a no-alcohol dance influenced by Barefoot Boogie. This is how he fell into dj-ing. Known as dance-at… they became a popular way to meet, socialise and dance together and often involved collaborations with other djs and local musicians. (In April 2017, dance-at… celebrated it's 19th year.)
He has savoured other forms such as salsa and tango. More drawn to contact improv and contemporary dance, he has taken various workshops and courses. After a back injury in 2008, somatic movement practices, such as Continuum Movement, Feldenkrais, have influenced his movement style.
The last decade has seen Robert move into what he calls Music-Led— dances guided by music only. He describes Music-Led as “a platform for on-going experimentation”. Drawing on a wide range of music he has held theme dances: inner journey, dances for men, experimental soundscapes to move to, dances with slow, ambient music.
In 2017 he began Sharing Movement that offers a small closed group ways to widen and share movement and dance practice.
Another strand is Music-Led Live! – held first with cellist Fran Andre, now with either pianist Beth Coombes or harpist and singer Jessica Joy Allen – which combine recorded music with live improvised playing. Music-Led and Story, with storyteller Alexa Smith, was an experiment to bring non-directive dialogue into the movement space.
Currently, he is the main person co-ordinating the Totnes Dance Collective. Under the Music-Led title, he holds some of the Collective evenings, plus holds his own events.
"I make a distinction between dance and movement: dance is an interaction with others, whereas movement has an inward focus. Although I have not (yet) trained in any practice, for two decades I have regularly danced what I call Embodied Dance: dance such as 5 Rhythms, Soul Motion, Movement Medicine.
Sometimes, all goes well; the body moves, there is joy. Sometimes I am in a hard place; movement is uninspiring, repetitive, even painful. Regular practice and time have shown me that continuing to move, listen and enquire, a hard place changes and a fresh movement landscape can emerge. This is always immensely nourishing.
As this body ages, I am drawn more to stretching and slow moves. An evening’s dance can seem too short; a weekend is needed to really feel that I’ve travelled from movement to wake up the body into dance: the state where the body does it’s thing." Robert