Joseph is an independent, mid-career artist creating contemporary physical, movement and choreographic work, as well as working in interdisciplinary and collaborative ways. Joseph also has a history in commercial finance and value adding. In making work, Joseph is interested in the political, social justice, value constructs and paradigms, the relevance and impact of work and the visceral. Joseph’s creative process traverses research across: personal & embodied histories, geopolitical histories, economic theories & events, score making, responsiveness and image construction.
Joseph’s choreographic work has previously been realised through self-organisation and commissions. Much of Joseph’s work has occurred in public or non-traditional performance spaces. Selected works and commissions include: ‘Viva... ’ (‘Dance Channels’ EU commission presented at festivals in Spain, Italy and in the UK), ‘Deeper Than All Roses’ (FascinatE multimedia project between BBC, Technicolour, University of Salford and EU partners), being an inaugural Moving Dance Forward Associate (Dance Manchester and MDI in partnership with the Unity Theatre, Contact, The Lowry and University of Salford), University of Salford, the 2010 TURN Prize work ‘Abandoned Things’, works as part of the new movement and dance collective Out of the Blue Productions in partnership with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and eu-art-network (presented at MediaCityUK, Teatro La Fenice, Bridgewater Hall and Austrian Cultural Forum), ATOM Choreographic Series #3 (Bulgaria) and the solo work ‘The Age Of Ledger’ (a dystopian work exploring the social and ethical consequences caused by a market based globalised economy and their effects on the psychology, behaviour and attitudes of individuals presented at venues and festivals in the UK and Australia). Joseph’s current project in development ‘Elephants’ has to date been supported by a Dance4 (UK) Remote Residency.
Joseph is a Co-Creator/ Co-Choreographer/ Co-producer of ‘They Gather’ an independent international multi-modal project creating gatherings of people, action, music, sound and dance in public, festival, cultural, digital and personal spaces. ‘They Gather’ has been programmed to date by Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, The Lowry (#LoveLowry digital programme), The Place and Chisenhale Dance’s digital festival ‘How Do We Tune Into Sensation’ and Rewire international music festival (the Netherlands). https://www.theygatherproject.com
Joseph has a history of performance working with imitating the dog (‘Zero Hour’), Boris Charmatz (in Manchester International Festival), Roman Liubyi and Babylon’13 (in ‘Iron Butterflies’ a hybrid documentary about the downing of flight MH17), Opera Queensland (‘Pearl Fishers’ and Graeme Murphy’s ‘Turandot’), Buzz Dance Theatre (company dancer touring works and delivering workshops in metro, regional and remote Australia), Dancenorth Australia, Willi Dorner (‘Bodies In Urban Spaces’), Slunglow (‘They Only Come at Night’), Barking Gecko (‘Hidden Dragons’ - including Australian and internationally touring), Bridget Fiske (‘Inner Terra’, ‘Never The Foxes’, Because of Gravity’, ‘YES Move. NO Move. (Moved?)’) and more.
Joseph has an extensive history facilitating in education, community and professional training contexts. Since 2011 Joseph has been a sessional lecturer at University of Salford. Joseph has also worked on acclaimed grassroots youth dance projects such as STRIDE - a dance project for young men in Greater Manchester realised via a partnership between Company Chameleon and Dance Manchester, amongst many other projects and engagements.
After completing a Bachelor of Commerce and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (Australia & New Zealand), Joseph undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) at Queensland University of Technology. This dual knowledge supports Joseph to also take on roles in arts and cultural leadership, predominantly spearheading artist-led initiatives. Roles include:
current roles with hAb (Advisory Committee Member) and Manchester Dance Consortium (Strategic Group Member), and
previous roles with Company Chameleon (Board Member), Ausdance Queensland (Treasurer), Critical Mass - Brisbane artist led initiative (Committee Member) and Expressions Dance Company (Treasurer).
Joseph is Co-Director of the new creative house Project Auske Ltd (www.projectauske.com) that is currently being supported in its organisational development via an Arts Council project grant. Joseph is also the UK Producer of ‘The Correspondents’ (a partnership project with Ukrainian film NGO Babylon’13 supported by the European Union under the House of Europe). Joseph is currently completing a certified Core Skills in Coaching & Mentoring course with Guildhall.
Joseph identifies as being born a migrant: born in Singapore of Malaysian citizenship to Chinese Malaysian parents, Joseph migrated to Papua New Guinea and Australia in his youth and then as an adult with a 15 year career in Australia found his way to the UK.
“The Age of Ledger by dancer and choreographer Joseph Lau ... is a fully realised dystopian physical theatre work exploring the psychological and social impact of money and economics and the disproportionate role they have in ‘governing our world and disempowering the individual’...Lau brings impressive range, physical commitment and enormous personal charisma to this wide-ranging examination of the futility and optimistic hopelessness of trying to function as a vital and yet individually irrelevant pawn in a financial machine that makes little sense and clearly doesn’t function well, for all its high-level economic theory and claims of fiscal and social responsibly. Lau, long based in the north-west, brings elements from his Australian-Chinese heritage to create an expansive and considered global dimension to the work, yet manages to keep his lens focused on the personal impact of being little more than a component – always potentially a superfluous one, an obstacle to efficiency – within a faceless and unwieldy machine. This is an effective, audacious, fully realised piece of dance theatre that pulls a range of physical and emotional punches with its considered and well-chosen use of text and music.”
- Peter Jacobs The Public Reviews -
Joseph currently has four major areas of inquiry and projects that drive the creation of new works.
The Age of Ledger
This series of works, reflects upon the economic, social, and political issues that have concerned Joseph. ‘STAFF ID: 5201’, was the first self-performed solo work in the series, addressing the impact of political and economic movements upon everyday people using the Reagan’s speech ‘A Time for Choosing’ and Chinese Exercise Music as the aural backdrop to question the motivations of Austerity imposed upon British people as a consequence of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and question how humans are viewed as economic resources. ‘STAFF ID: 5201’ evolved to become a second longer solo work, ‘The Age of Ledger’ which included personal stories from people in Joseph's life as a finance professional as well as stories of Joseph's father to share and bring a lived reality and relatability to audiences. ‘The Age of Ledger’ has become an umbrella title for projects that are a part of Joseph's ongoing research interests and work that intersects economic theory, artistic & cultural identity (including migrant identity), trade history & globalisation, value systems and colonialism. In the creation of these works Joseph has sought to combine expanded and sometimes surreal imagery with verbatim content and a physically that moves between character, metaphor and effort.
Bridget Fiske & Joseph Lau with Stelios Manousakis & Stephanie Pan and Collaborating Performers
'They Gather’ is an international and independent project that focuses on ‘need’ and the consequences of needs not being met. ‘They Gather’ creates gatherings: in vulnerability, in celebration, to be heard and to find meaning. These interrelated works explore the boundaries between audience, participant and performer in public, festival, digital and cultural spaces subsequently creating dialogue with environments, societies, politics, histories and creating speculative futurologies. 'They Gather' aims to empower and create dialogue around the complexities and polarities of contemporary living. This multi-modal project has created a body of work with independent artists Bridget Fiske (movement/ dance) and sound/ music artists Stephanie Pan & Stelios Manousakis. These include:
• ‘An Absurdist Archive of Isolation: a full body workout radio play’ (audio work and visual score premiered/ presented with The Place & Chisenhale Dance and The Lowry - February 2021 & Rewire nternational music festival (NL) - 2021).
• ‘Entertaining a Small Place’ – in development (a parade for one, presented University of Salford – November 2019).
• ‘Everyday Freedoms’ (a 3 hour durational public space work), ‘Lost in Feeling’ (a mass public participation work for audience, community and artists) & ‘Corpus Alimentation‘ (part documentary, parts science-fiction, part ritual) all presented at Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, Brisbane, Australia – April 2019.
This series of works (‘VIVA…’, and ‘Viva: Reverb)’ – centres on the human need to connect which is a deep personal undertow for Joseph that he feel makes life worth living. For Joseph, personal relationships are important building blocks of connections, with each of these works containing articulations of friendships, conflicts, liveness within self and with others, and self-identity that highlight both the beauty and the challenges of being with each other. This series of works began in 2012 when commissioned by the EU consortia ‘Dance Channels’ to create a public space work responding to the theme ‘the passage of time’.
Watch 'Viva...' here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG4Sf17-8oY&t=5s
Collaborations & Working with other Artists
Recognising the value of working outside of Joseph's own areas of investigation, Joseph has been drawn to working with artists (this has included in dance as well as working with visual artists and music/ sound artists). Joseph has worked with key long-time collaborator, Bridget Fiske, via her own projects such as ‘Yes Move No Move (Moved)’, ‘Inner Terra’, ‘Because of Gravity’ and ‘Never the Foxes’, who's work follows along similar veins of socio-political work that investigate issues of migration, isolation, and belonging as well as human connections to science. Other artists that are fuelling Joseph's creative endeavours includes:
• Joseph's recent work with Jo Fong (UK) on ‘Ways of Being Together’ (presented in Shoreditch Town Hall as part of CAN Festival 2020) and engagement with Jo's body of work.
• Tony Yap (Australia) whose work is informed by psycho-physical research, Asian shamanistic trance dance, Butoh and psycho-vocal experimentations.
Both these artists open new artistic doors in areas of somatic practice, East and South East Asian practices, and create new dialogues with audience.
Works & Projects
Photographers work who appears on this site:
Victor Isabel Bueno
Photo Corps (courtesy of ATOM Theatre)