THIRTY years away from the world of British dance Midlands-raised Tim Rushton is hoping the country has lost the sense of exclusivity that once accompanied any sort of dance beyond TV variety shows.
“What I don’t like about dance and ballet is the elitism there always was around it,” insists the Danish Dance Theatre artistic director ahead of next week’s visit.
“In my company we tour everywhere there is dance and we come out with high quality work and our best audiences are often far away from the elitist crowd – I even hate the world ‘elitist’.
“What I always say is you shouldn’t put dance under the one big umbrella - just give it a chance.”
A first British tour takes Tim back to where it all started, with his dance classes in a village hall on the outskirts of Birmingham.
“I don’t suppose it was ballet at all,” he laughs. “It was more like creative movement, but I loved it. I thought it was fantastic and I knew it was what I wanted to do. Nobody had ever talked to me that way before.”
Either way, he knocks the idea that his is another Billy Elliot story of triumph over dancing adversity. “My parents were very supportive. They just wanted me to do what I had to do.”
There was talk of Tim going to the Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge at the age of 11, but he didn’t join until he was 16, when fellow pupils would include Deborah Bull and Jonathan Cope.
“I speak to friends who were there from a very early age and some of them are traumatised. I had a very normal life and that was much better.
“Even at 16 you’re going through a lot of stuff, finding things out about yourself, and I am happy I had those years before that being at home with my parents.
“I’d had enough years at home to know what was good and what was bad so had some sense of stability to help me when I got to the Royal Ballet School.
“I think 16 is the minimum age you should be sent off into the world alone – before that my parents never even let me go into Birmingham by myself.”
The Royal Ballet School has trained many of the biggest names in British dance.
In Tim’s case his career took him into Europe, first to Germany and then to Sweden and then on to the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, ultimately to his post as the head of the Danish Dance Theatre 10 years ago
The 30th anniversary tour will introduce his unique choreography, which combines the classical lines of the ballet training of his youth with the power of modern dance.
The first piece, Enigma, layers powerful, beautiful and sensual duets.
CaDance is an exciting, testosterone-fuelled competition between five male dancers.
Finally, in the award-winning Kridt, a man on the verge of death remembers his life, loves and losses, as told by the men and women he has known.
“I think my excitement has a lot to do with the UK becoming a real dance Mecca.
“Looking back on me growing up in the Midlands in the late 1960s and early ’70s, I wish I was growing up there now – there’s so much more choice.”
The Danes light up The Lyceum on Tuesday and Wednesday.