How are you/have you been involved with Casson & Friends?
I am currently standing in as a production manager for a couple of weeks of the Midlands tour of Night at the Theatre this spring. This is both exciting and a lot of fun — it's so great to see the same piece eliciting different responses from each audience, and to see so many young people being inspired and enthused by this piece. I get to drive the set from one place to another, which I love, and I get to do all the technical bits for the performance, with the help of the often fabulous staff at each venue we visit.
What do you love about dance?
As an artist, what I love about dance is that dancers work directly with their material: there are no words, musical instruments, etc to get in the way—the dancer is the dance! This makes it very grounded in the human body, gravity, etc, which I find fascinating. I also love it as a social practice, dancing is a very beautiful and playful way of getting people to move in rhythm together — much easier to dance the salsa with a stranger than to join a salsa band..
What song always makes you dance? (We have a a Spotify playlist!)
Wade in the Water by Eva Cassidy — I was learning lindy hop some years ago and this was one of the tunes I would practice with, so now it's stuck as the go-to song for lindy hop!
Also I love music with irregular rhythms, Radiohead's 15 Step comes in mind.
In Finland I did a master in Global Music, so I came across and played a lot of music like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2wV283ykk - this kind of very earthy, groovy music definitely gets those feet moving!
Last, but not least, I love Scandinavian (particularly Finnish) folk music, and together with a bit of social lindy hop and latin, is a kind of music I love because is so much intertwined with a social dance tradition, and I have danced to myself quite a bit.
Listen to the #FriendsFriday playlist on Spotify
What else are you working on at the moment? (Upcoming performances, exciting projects, holidays!)
In December 2017 I took part in an outrageous deconstruction and reconstruction of Beethoven's Violin Concerto Op.61 at The Old Dentist in Hackney. This was actually only just broadcast on BBC Radio 3's "Hear and Now" last week, and is still available for another few weeks! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tmhvc (at 54:10 there's an interview, to give a bit of context for the piece, and the actual music starts at 1 hour in).
I recently started working for Eden Project Communities, where I am part of a team developing a network of community projects and individuals across the UK. It's fascinating, because it's a very ambitious task (to create a self-sustained, resilient network of community initiatives), has a direct impact on the people in the network, and it means I get to meet a lot of ordinary people doing extraordinary things all over the country.
In 2014 I co-founded artArctica, an arts organisation in Helsinki, and I am still involved although this is now a bit in the back-burner because of other commitments. We are aiming to produce a CD-album with music recorded from festivals we produced sometime in the near future.
I am also learning the shakuhachi in my spare time, which I love because it brings together the breath, sound, and mindfulness, as well as my passion for Japanese aesthetics and philosophy. I am trying to learn a bit of Japanese on the side, which hopefully I can put into use when in the future I have the opportunity to take lessons from a Japanese master — this is a big project in itself!
Any links? (Links to your work, your company website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud etc?)
You can find Lao on his Website, Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter!
Meet more of the Casson & Friends team on Fridays with #FriendsFriday!