Creative Director Lilian Mae Deans Allison formed Callous Affection Dance upon completing her degree in 2016, where she graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Dance Performance from Falmouth AMATA.
She and founding member Paul Duddy lived and worked together in Brighton for the following two years until 2018 at which point Paul parted with Callous Affection to pursue research focussing in on fitness and body training. During this time Lilian began securing her ethos towards making work and communicating though performance art. The work has always come from a genuine reflection on the situations Lilian found herself in, and the emotional responses she was having to them. It became clear that the work she wanted to create would explore the impacts of the world around us on our own mental health.
Her work explores a mild obsession with ideas surround tug-and-pull, give and take, trust and distrust, underlying explanations, Occam’s razor theory, and the seesaw effect.
Having been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive tendencies that have lead to crippling mental health problems, Lilian realised that her inclination to both access and understand her audience’s ‘unheard voice’ had come from years of a self afflicted torment, which she could not explain and felt nobody could hear. She saw that we live in a time where many people go through similar experiences and that if we don’t find ways to communicate these experiences we will continue to damage ourselves and our communities, and will see the harms caused by mental health difficulties continue to grow.
But as with tug and pull, and give and take, there are two sides to life. Life is a spectrum that reaches between despair and pure joy, and each day lived on this spectrum is beautiful and precious. As such, Callous Affection aims to represent both triumph and heart break, as this itself is the beauty of what it means to be human. Lilian’s choreography offers an authentic representation of the performer’s responses to widely relatable themes (emotional torment, jubilance, the complexities of social dynamics, self reflection, self expression & suppression, empathy) which are accessed via lived experience. The company aims to deliver socially aware performance work, to help build dynamic and supportive relationships within the community through the arts.
After working as a full time cleaner and building her reputation as a Dance Artist since 2016, it became clear to Lilian that, even before the pandemic, opportunities for artists to share their hard work have been very limited. As Callous Affection began securing funding in 2019, she developed her role and began hosting the Amidst Showcases with the aim of creating a safe performance space for artists, with an unbiased approach to selecting work, encouraging both theatrical and underground artists to share their work together.