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26 mei 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (12): Joshua Junker

Until 1 June theatremakers, actors, artists and dancers are forced to sit at home. As part of the official measures aimed at keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control, exhibitions are off and performances have been cancelled. What do these measures mean for Piket Art Prizes’ young artists? Part 12: Joshua Junker.

Impact of the measures

Joshua Junker, 2014 winner of the Piket Art Prize in the Dance category, joined the Royal Ballet in London in 2018. He feels very much at home there, but life has changed a lot since the corona measures came into effect. “It’s all Zoom now,” Joshua says. “Ballet classes, yoga, fitness, and Pilates.” Usually Joshua can be found at the Royal Ballet studios six days a week, but government measures have made this impossible. “You’re allowed to go out for shopping or a bit of exercise once a day. But nobody checks, so in practice it’s much like in the Netherlands.” The Royal Ballet has cancelled its complete season, including Swan Lake, The Dante Project, and Corybantic Games. “Some of this season’s productions may be performed next season,” Joshua explains. He counts himself lucky because he has a permanent contract. “It means I’ll receive 80% of my salary, even though we can’t work.” The Royal Ballet is exploring ways to resume in-house rehearsals and how to organize performances once the measures will be relaxed.

So what now?

“During the morning and part of the afternoon I take on-line classes via Zoom. It’s good, it provides structure and helps us to keep fit,” says Joshua who lives in London, sharing a house with two other dancers and a law student. He spends the rest of his time cycling, playing the guitar, reading, and, again, dancing. “I’m not bored at all.” He is a little worried about the future. “But I try to keep anxiety at bay.” He is in regular contact with his family in the Netherlands. “More often than usual, actually. It’s strange not to be able to go home.” Bustling London is rather quiet at the moment. “Not many people live in the centre of town. There’s almost nobody there now. Covent Garden, London’s entertainment hub, is practically empty. The suburbs are quiet, too, but the parks are crowded with people taking exercise.”

Joshua in a Royal Ballet performance. Photo: Royal Ballet

Plans for the future

Joshua wants to go on dancing as long as possible. “I want to realize the full potential of my dancing years.” Even though he is a member of one of the world’s top companies, he wants to become even better. “There’s always room for improvement,” he says. Over the past few years, he has also created several works of his own. “Every year the Royal Ballet organizes something called Draft Works where you’re given the opportunity to create pieces for members of the company. It’s exclusively for Royal Ballet dancers.” Joshua’s piece was selected for performance during last year’s international edition. Joshua is inspired by choreographers such as Christel Pite, Sol León, Paul Lightfoot, Hofesh Shechter and Jiří Kylián. After his career as a dancer, he would like to work as a choreographer. “It would be fascinating to do that,” he says. “But there’s still so much dancing to do, and I’m also really interested in other styles and ways of moving.”

Joshua Junker in a Royal Ballet performance. Photo: Royal Ballet

Opening image: Joshua and Aiden O’Brien in quarantine.