When people ask me how I started writing on dance, I say: by accident. Or at least: it was never a plan. I took my first dance class while I was still doing a diploma in publishing, following a degree in biology. After a couple of years working for a medical publisher, I did a one-year dance course at Laban, and then got a job at Dance Books.
Dance Books was both a bookshop and a publisher, and I soon took on the publication design and production: copy-editing, layout, typesetting (examples here) of their books, and co-editing Dance Now magazine. The role combined my skills with my interests – perfect.
While I was producing Dance Now, someone suggested I try writing a piece for it, so I gave it a go. That’s how the writing started. A couple of years after leaving Dance Books I got a call from Guardian dance critic Judith Mackrell asking if I’d consider some reviewing for the paper. Did I say no? I did not.
Since then, I’ve been writing freelance for the Guardian and other publications. The biggest single project was the Guardian’s Step by Step Guides (2008–2011) – a series of 59 user-friendly profiles of companies and choreographers that I wanted to be as engaging and entertaining as they were informative. More recently, I’ve also led writing workshops, taught university classes, been a judge for The Place Prize (London), the PECDA choreography award (India), Premio Equilibrio (Rome), and given a couple of conference papers, as well as conceiving and scripting an animation series called Planet Dance: a visitor’s guide to contemporary dance, which as been subtitled into more than 10 languages!
One day I was doing some research and came across an article that turned out to be by – me! Time to catalogue my stuff, I thought, and it looked like the best way to do that was online. So I set out to build what you see now: sanjoyroy.net.
Since spring 2018, I have also been editor of Springback Magazine, a new publication model for dance writing across Europe, backed by Aerowaves and the EU Creative Fund.