in this summer of associations

An update on Luke’s Associateship with Dance Base, Edinburgh

The Choreography of People, Place and Thought

Fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape Associate Artist Luke Pell is an artist based in Edinburgh who collaborates with people and places, imagining alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse that might reveal wisdoms for living.

Working with words and movements - words as movements - their practice takes form as intimate encounters - poetic objects, installations, performances and designed environments - choreographies in print and in person.

Luke’s work has recurrently explored how dance and choreographic thinking meets with other worlds and realities - across interweaving strands as a maker, curator and dramaturg - often bringing together seemingly unrelated constellations of bodies and thought.

Luke became an Associate Artist of Dance Base in 2017 proposing to use the frame of the associate-ship to review his artistic development, consolidate his work thus far and look to the future by researching a number of emergent project ideas and hopefully realize two new works. In his application Luke said:

As a maker and curator with a nuanced output - who tends not to make work for stage or traditional theatre touring - it is important and often challenging to find supporters that recognise and value breadth as part of practice, that share an interest in widening notions of who can dance, who encounters dance and what dance and the choreographic might be […]

My way of working tends to be quiet, subtle and less ‘visible’ - as considered political choices that make sense to me – however, recent conversations with colleagues have prompted me to wonder how I might be more active and better understood as a maker and - in an increasingly uncertain climate - what my contribution to this next decade can and should be.

Since beginning the associate-ship with Dance Base Luke has created his first ensemble work In the Ink Dark – a dance and poem made from memory and conversation – for the midsummer of 2017. Working with an eclectic, intergenerational ensemble of performers and interdisciplinary collaborators and hosts - including Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh Libraries, the Botanic Cottage, Leith Theatre and Leith Late with support from Metal, Dance Base, Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh - In the Ink Dark met with hundreds of people from all of over Leith and Edinburgh and received warm and encouraging responses from the press.

In the Ink Dark, Luke Pell’s imaginative foray into the stuff of memories
Mary Brennan, The Herald ***

We are witnessing a ritual, evocative of muted incantations, the motion of a medium scrying on flesh.

We are the eye of the storm, static, all around us kinetic.

…an immensely intimate and meditative experience.
Paul Montague, The Fountain

In the Ink Dark will mean something different to each person who witnesses this evolving piece of theatre, dance, and poetry. A delight for lovers of words, a call to listen and share.
Erin Roche, The Edinburgh Guide ****

In the Ink Dark is a ‘happening’ it feels good to be a part of.
Kelly Apter, The Scotsman

Since then Luke has been working on research and development for a number of new projects:

•    Selkie Was A Sea Witch (or…) with Kitty Fedorec - A playful, sparkling and perhaps challenging work that sets out to revisit folktales exploring gender, empowerment, oppression, authorship, the experiences of young queer voices, different ideas about choreography and what it takes to feel at home in our own skins.

•    The Wait of Mountains - A low-tech, performance duet with Janice Parker that collects and share stories carried across generations of geology, geography, genealogy, about different kinds of time, ageing, language, love, loss and longing 

•    Lost Botanists - a series of choreographic portraits of people, plants and gardens with artists Lucy Cash and Annie Lord

•    Doing it Differently – some small curated conversations, gatherings ‘think and do-tanks’ that explore where dance and choreographic thinking meets with other worlds, growing practices for alternative ways of training/living/working as dance artists and what our contribution to other fields can be 

Now, over a year into the Associate-ship Luke has seeded all of these new projects. Over the Autumn of 2018 he will be working with collaborators towards the possibility of making re-iterations of In the Ink Dark for other places in Scotland in Summer 2019, looking at what the next stages of development needs to be for each of the emergent projects and trying to find appropriate support and launching a new website with further information about his practice, projects, collaborative work with other artists and organisations and his growing body of writing and podcasts. 

Alongside his own projects Luke is currently working as dramaturg for new works SKINNED from Mirjam Gurtner (Berlin/Basel), Claire Cunningham (Glasgow), as Guest Dramaturg in Residence with South East Dance and as a regular collaborator with Janice Parker Projects.

More information about Luke’s projects and practice will be available at from the end of September. If you’re interested in what Luke’s up to, you can email

marsh and metal and change

for archipelagic thinking