Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in Mick’s company will know just how important dance is to him. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s Mick studied Drama at Dartington Hall – a college with a great tradition in contemporary dance – and while he was there he was fortunate enough to train under Mary Fulkerson, Steve Paxton, and Richard Alston.
Over the years, Mick’s company, Striding Edge, has performed around the globe, once famously bringing the M6 to a standstill when their performance of Spring Awakening spilled onto the motorway during the Birmingham Bienielle in 1996. With a trusted group of regulars (among them Hugh Whitfield, David Harkins and Estelle Frayne) Mick still manages to put together a handful of performances each year, but with all his writing commitments Mick doesn’t get out quite as much as he’d like (his last professional outings in the dance world were a couple of low-key performances and a master class at the Porto Dance Festival in the summer of ‘08).
But he’s lucky enough to have a small studio at his farm and regularly withdraws there. As he admitted in a recent interview, ‘If I’m having trouble with a particular passage, or I feel like I’m losing a story’s thread I’ll sometimes just kick off my socks and shoes and do some movement for a couple of hours – nothing too structured or technical, just sheer expressive energy. And it always amazes me how just by getting back into the physical I will clear my head. And before I know it, I’ve worked out exactly where to go with a character, or what tone I need for a particular bit of dialogue.’
Most dancers tend to retire from actual performing when they reach their forties, but Mick just seems to keep on going. ‘I’m quite prepared to choreograph for other companies,’ he’s reported as saying, ‘but I still love to get out there myself.’ His remarkable fitness and trim figure he partly puts down to his diet (no meat, no saturated fats, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables) but also to the joy he gets from his work. ‘I seem to have found the perfect balance,’ he says. ‘With my writing it’s all about the intellect. But when I’m out in the studio and I’m moving and turning the ethereal becomes the real. And in a performance you can just feel the room lift, with everyone in it.’