Innovator inspired by daily life

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Lea Anderson, a former south London art student and punk rock singer, is in the forefront of the new wave choreographers. The founder of the all-male Featherstonehaughs and the all- female Cholmondeleys uses humour, storylines, live bands and spoken text in her dance pieces.

In Birthday, for example, a couple flirt and then become passionately involved while following a spoken recipe for a birthday cake.

The dancers she uses are anti- stereotype, sometimes short, or not conventionally good looking, though she regrets not including any fat dancers. 'That would be really radical.'

Anderson, 33, speaks with contempt for mainstream contemporary dance. 'I want the audience to be able to relate to the people on stage, so my dancers come in all shapes and sizes, compared with the sylphs of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre with short hair in modern cuts or long hair in a bun. Me and my friends just don't look like that.

'I think the large-scale companies that tour the regions like LCDT and Rambert have become dinosaurs, treading the same seasonal paths. We are only funded from project to project, so we have much more passion about our work.

'I find I can't avoid humour in my work, but then I don't just want to appeal to a dance audience, but to people who go to cinema, gigs and theatre.

'I tend to avoid movement that is found in a dance class and use movements that are based on everyday activity, including facial gestures.'

(Photograph omitted)