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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Letting the Catto out of the Bag

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He’s been described by Bono as a ‘genius filmmaker’; Stephen Fry believes him to be a skilful facilitator who possesses ‘the remarkable ability to light fires under reluctant people’.

Jamie Catto is the co-founder of dance group Faithless and launched the Grammy-nominated 1 Giant Leap onto the world.

He is a creative mentor able to flick that switch to create and generate personal and professional breakthroughs and he is coming to Byron and Mullumbimby to conduct workshops as part of his national tour.


‘It began from very early on in my late teens…’

Catto’s belief is that ‘the link between what you learn as an artist and what you learn to be an affective creative person is the same’.

As it turns out, musicians, through the very nature of their practice, already observe dynamic and connected communication.

‘Musicians innately learn how to listen properly and they learn how to tune into what they are listening to at the same time and channel through their fingertips – thats how we should meet the world. Being totally present, but realising it’s a dual path, that we are listening to what is going on around us, concentrating, and responding as well.’

Jamie-Catto---croppedCatto is a fast talker. He is dynamic. He is confronting. He is inspired, and if I were to be honest, I’d have to say he’s a little bit overwhelming. He has that immense bigness of character that washes over you, with a clear mandate about what is needed to keep an individual on a creative and meaningful trajectory. He wasn’t always so focused. In fact Catto experienced depression and anxiety as a teenager and had an extreme and debilitating sense of alienation.

‘It began from very early on in my late teens; I was having extremely debilitating meltdowns and panic attacks. I was so over-sensitive and unable to translate what was going on around me.

‘I couldn’t deal with it and I wasn’t given the tools on how to be.

‘We look at the world like there are two types of people – sensitive people and people like me. No, that’s not true; we are all sensitive; we get ashamed of it, and we don’t give ourselves credit in the way we look after ourselves. Creatively we lack the knowledge.’

One thing Catto is clear about in his teaching is that he is not an advocate on the death of the ego.

‘I don’t teach ascetic practice. I want you to bring your flavour; I am not about alienating the ego. It is a very deep experience and I don’t agree with spiritual teachings that say to amputate the ego, because the ego is a huge teacher. It is hilarious and illuminating. I am about the fun and the juiciness of the human experience. I want to make it amazing, encourage you to do things that scare you.

‘There is a big difference from being emotional, being reactive, or being emotional and sitting in the fire of emotions. You have to feel those terrible emotions, feel the blood, and still being you, being non-reactive but still remaining in the middle of it all.

Jamie-03-flipt-right-‘We have definitely been socialised to stay on top of things that make us feel out of control or exposed. We want what is normal or appropriate. Those that are louder, or more chaotic, or individual don’t always fit with what everyone is comfortable with. We are then put into conformist, good girl/naughty girl, about getting it right… and it’s really fucked up and because of that we hide so much. And it’s hard to stand outside the brochure we see of ourselves. The huge part of the workshop is to dissolve that; it all happens in the beautiful uniqueness that we have edited out. It is in the wackiness that we are free.

‘The workshop bases itself on the premise that we have already got ourselves down to a smaller version of ourselves, and we are terrified to be seen to fail. What our creativity gives us is a kind of intimacy where the parts of us are melted, through lyrics, or lovemaking or a goal. and these are the unity events. It’s an amazing mixture of empowerment when you realise the David sculpture was already there when Michelangelo got the rock – we don’t have to find individual genius – by dissolving everything the genius of everything is there.’

Jamie will be screening 1 Giant Leap with a Q&A to follow in Byron on November 7; conducting a three-hour dance experience in Mullum on November 8; facilitating an evening on November 9, also in Mullumbimby, exploring relationships and intimacy. He is also conducting a two-day master class in Mullumbimby on November 9 and 10. 

For bookings, prices, times and full details go to www.chrishooper.com.au or phone (03) 9844 5379.

Venues are Mullumbimby Civic Hall and Byron Community Centre.


Find this and many other great gigs in Echonetdaily’s North Coast Gig Guide.


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