Kristin Kelly Abbott is a contemporary dance theatre choreographer and dance facilitator based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and founder and artistic director of Abbott Dance Theatre (formerly Kelly-Abbott Dance Theatre). After studying at Stella Mann College in London and gaining a first class BA in contemporary Dance from Newcastle College, Kristin has gone on to enjoy an exciting career spanning many areas of the dance industry from musical theatre to television, commercial and community dance and education. Her career so far has involved working with many renowned commercial choreographers including Arlene Phillips, Karen Bruce, Simeon Qsyea, Jonzi D, Travis Wall and Craig Revel-Horwood.
This month her company Abbott Dance Theatre will be presenting their new work Deeds not Words at Dance City, a powerful piece marking the anniversary of the representation of the People’s Act where some women over 30 won the right to vote in the UK.
What have you been up to recently?
Most recently, I have been on a National Tour of a show I made in 2016 called Launch Day.
In collaboration with visual artist Alexander Millar, Launch Day explores the industrial history of the North East shipyard communities, bringing to life Millar’s paintings of working men and the iconic characters known as “Gadgies”.
What influenced you to pursue a career in dance?
I remember, from a really young age, being so certain that I wanted to be a dancer. Growing up in rural Ireland, my dream was to move to London and dance in the West End. I was inspired by the Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I used to watch their black and white movies on a Saturday/Sunday mornings and dress up as Ginger Rogers in my mother’s dance costumes and tap shoes, creating my own routines to perform for friends and family. My mother was also a huge inspiration for me when it came to dance. We attended dance classes every Saturday at the same studio in Dublin and we performed together in the summer shows. I also loved contemporary dance despite not practising this form of dance until I was older. I began Ballet at the age of 4yrs, Jazz a few years later. I loved musical theatre and I was fortunate enough to visit London quite often with my family where we went to see some amazing shows like Crazy for You.
How would you describe your style of dance?
I have been hugely influenced by my experience as a performer. I describe my style as contemporary dance theatre, but more theatrical than contemporary. Storytelling and narrative are really important for me. Perhaps it is my Celtic heritage, always wanting to tell a tale. I want to appeal to a wider audience rather than a solely dance specific audience. I believe this is possible through strong storytelling and by exploring themes that relate to people, with realness and a sense of humanity.
Where do you find inspiration for the work you create?
Inspiration is all around us and it often reveals itself when you least expect it. Thoughts, feelings, what is happening in the world are all sources of inspiration for me. For Deeds not Words the Centenary of some women winning the right to vote inspired me to investigate my own knowledge of the subject. I was appalled by my lack of knowledge and ignorance. This spurred me to research the suffragettes and suffragists and a whole world was revealed to me. A world that was unbelievable and heart breaking and empowering all at once. A world that was so close to today’s world and it’s issues. I knew I had to tell this story through dance.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I am really looking forward to the premiere of Deeds Not Words, it has been a long journey to get to this point and I am so delighted that I am finally in the creation period. I am also looking forward to touring the show across the region in 2019 to continue the legacy of the centenary and the suffragettes.
Deeds not Words will be premiering at Dance City on Saturday 24 November. Tickets £13.50, £11 concessions, £8 students. Advisory age 11+ due to some distressing scenes. Find out more and book your tickets at www.dancecity.co.uk or contact the ticket office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 261 0505.