Now based in London, Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre was formed in San Francisco in 1993. It is the company’s mission to tell inspiring, human stories through narrative, emotionally-driven dance and theatre.
The company’s work pulls movement and imagery out of the real world and combines it with virtuoso dancing to create dances that resonate on levels both abstract and personal. It is this vision of dance as a medium through which to illuminate visceral, human truths that drives the company’s work in both the theatre and the studio.
The company is currently in preparation for the world premiere of End without Days, a full-length duet for dancers Freya Jeffs and Edd Mitton. End without Days will premiere at Dance Base as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 5-21 August.
Stephen Pelton in The Hurdy-gurdy Man © Andy Mogg
“Stephen Pelton is the genuine article: a natural choreographer who combines rigor and lyricism. His work reeks of the things he knows and feels; it has weight and temperature.”
(L-R) Christy Funsch, Private Freeman and Erin Mei-Ling Stuart in Tuesday © Austin Forbord
Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre’s work has been performed throughout the US as well as in London, Paris, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Berlin. In San Francisco, the company won a Cable Car Award for Waltzes for the Dayroom and was nominated three times for the Isadora Duncan Awards, including a nomination for Best Choreography for and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me in 2010. The company has created several works in collaboration with playwright Brian Thorstenson including Sugarfoot Stomp and Tuesday—a play for dancers. Pelton’s solo works The Hurdy-gurdy Man and A Hundred Miles have each been presented at Dance Base in Edinburgh during the Fringe.
“Stephen Pelton’s full-bodied and thoughtfully structured choreography fits his dancers like second skins. He is a storyteller in the manner of poets who suggest, evoke and analogize.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Previous work includes if you want to see me once more (2017), commissioned by DanceLive Aberdeen; Lauda Adrianna (2015), created in association with the Gavin Bryars Ensemble; and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me (2010); A Hundred Miles (2007), premiered at Dance Base, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Tuesday—a play for dancers (2006), with playwright Brian Thorstenson; If Tomorrow Wasn’t Such a Long Time (2006); September for Sale (2004): The Hurdy-gurdy Man (1999); America Songbook (1997); Waltzes For The Dayroom (1996)
(L-R) Nol Simonse and Chad Dawson in Lauda Adrianna © Wolfram Oelte
Freya Jeffs in Lauda Adrianna
“In Lauda Adrianna Pelton has crafted a breathtaking, powerful and moving piece of contemporary dance. By far one of the best works offered this season.”
Stephen Pelton © Mat Hale
As an internationally respected teacher of Limon-inspired dance technique, Pelton teaches students and professionals at Sadler’s Wells, Rambert, Goteborg Ballet, Ballet Preljocaj, Rotterdam Dance Academy, Tanz Fabrik/Berlin, Dance Base/Edinburgh, Central School of Ballet, Laban & The Place in London.
Raised in the Limon tradition, Stephen’s classes move from Limon’s swing, fall and rebound fundamentals to ballet placement exercises to combinations exploring his own lyrical and idiosyncratic movement style. Each day’s class material accumulates into a final sequence that reinforces principles from within the class. Pelton’s goal as a teacher is to challenge and inspire each student, whatever their level of expertise, through direct feedback and supportive encouragement. Movement dynamics, musicality and a passionate use of space are essential qualities of Pelton’s classes. As is his insistence on using humour to break through our inhibitions, unify the group and find new dimensions in our dancing.
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“While the choreographers were taking their bows, my neighbour in the audience whispered, ‘That Stephen Pelton — he’s a dancer’s choreographer.’ If I were Pelton, I’d take it as a compliment. Indeed, Pelton’s dances are full of delicious movement at once lyrical and spasmodic and rife with phrasing experimentation. The dancing was so exciting, strong, and meticulous that I just sat back and grinned at the superheroes onstage, thrashing, bounding, commanding, and riding the wave of movement.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian