Former student Ben Duke has found success as a professional dancer and choreographer, yet his chosen path hadn’t always been the plan. Ben originally studied a degree in English Literature and it wasn’t until later that he discovered his passion for physical theatre.
“I started off doing an English Literature degree,” Ben told The Oxford Times. “After that I went to drama school, and while I was there I got interested in physical theatre and movement classes, probably more than the dance classes.”
Ben trained attended the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey. “But I was then asked to create something that involved dance, and I did a foundation class at Lewisham College.
“It was very hard work. By that time I already felt I knew something about performance, and about being on the stage, but I didn’t really know much about the body, or the pattern in coordination that people who train in dance develop. That wasn’t there in my body, and so I did find that very frustrating, and I did find it very difficult,” he admitted to The Oxford Times.
Ben was inspired by the Foundation Dance course at Lewisham College and realised that dance and physical theatre were his true calling. He chose next to train at the world-class London Contemporary Dance School at The Place
Fast forward to 2015 and Ben now co-directs dance company, Lost Dog, with whom he won the prestigious Place Prize for his dance duet It Needs Horses, with fellow dancer Raquel Meseguer.
Ben recently received rave reviews for his ambitious 80 minute solo performance of Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, which he toured in 2015. He explained his inspirations to The Oxford Times:
“One of the first things that came to me was the idea of the creation of heaven. That’s where I began, and once I had a physical idea about how I would do that, there were certain other sections of the poem that I was drawn to, that I wanted to stage in some way.
“God is the character I spend most time being, but then I play out the conversation that God has with Lucifer, and the talk that Adam and Eve have together, then of course God speaks to Adam. There is also the confrontation between Eve and the Serpent; I try to embody a variety of characters, including myself – I’m a role too in this piece.”
If you want to find out about future performances by Lost Dog, click here.