In the final instalment of our exclusive three-part Q&A, our dancers answer the last of your questions, revealing everything from how they prepare for shows, dealing with nerves and expectations for the future of dance.
Do you have any pre/post show rituals? (Anonymous)
Martina: Yes! First of all the girls have a very strict routine before the show. As weird as it might seem, we tend to sit in exactly the same formation everywhere we go (well, if possible) and we meet precisely an hour and a half before the show starts to do our make-up and hair- it’s our time to get ready and prepare for the performance. We find it quite therapeutic in fact and we tend to put the world to right at the same time. Then the whole company comes together on stage to do a “shout check” led by our stage manager. In practical terms he has a list of things, props and safety checks that we are responsible for and he goes on and asks us if it’s all in order. It might seem silly but the work we do is highly skilled and it is important to know that all the things we need for the show are in place. No risk of getting complacent!! Once this is ticked off we warm up on stage together: we have made this really cheese routine that we religiously repeat before every performance without fail! Finally just before the curtain goes up we meet with Kevin and we have our final group talk in a circle, we take 3 deep breaths together, we hug each person (some people have ritual phrase too!) and off we go!
Danny: We do have some pre and post show rituals and from the outside they would seem a little strange. We have a group warm up on stage and we have a little dance called “We take the dancing serious” we have all created a little dance move that we have put in a sequence and we do that sequence a few times through. It makes us laugh and reminds us that the show is to be taken serious but we must have fun whilst doing it. Then just before the show we have a group hug and we all “sing” Chaaaaaaaarrrrrrge. We sound awful but again it reminds us that for the next 70 minutes we are going to go through it together and look after each other. After the show, we gather behind the set and have another group hug. A chance for some people to say how it went/how they are feeling but also a chance to come together and remember that the show has now passed and we move on to the next rehearsals and the next show.
Do you still get nervous before performing? (Josh,21)
Rosie: Always. It’s a good amount of nerves. It’s enough to make me perform to my fullest. It’s part of the joy of performing. Every show counts.
Beth: Yes yes yes!! I always get nervous before a show as all of the shows are highly skilled and involve risk if not well prepared so require a lot of concentration and attention to detail! Performing as part one of the UK’s most renowned dance companies is such an honour but also means that there is that bit higher expectation from the audience as to what they are about to see which adds more pressure to the performance. Also, because of the nature of our work and how much we rely on each other, you really have to be on the ball all the way through which makes the start of the show much more nerve wrecking! Especially in Charge where I begin the show with a solo in the strop, setting up for that on stage in blackout always gives me massive butterflies and always will as me and Danny are the first thing the audience sees in the whole show!!
Danny: Yes absolutely. Most of the time they are good nerves, the type that get you hyped for a show. Only when my family are in do I get the nerves that I don’t like having, the type of nerves that don’t help the performance in any way… I have to try and shake those off.
Martina: Yes, of course! I think it is really important to have a little bit of nerves before going on stage. Then I know that my mind and body are aware of what is about to happen. The few times I went on stage not feeling nervous I realised pretty soon that I hadn’t prepared adequately enough or I wasn’t quite fully committed to what I was doing. I would end up making silly mistakes or not feeling in the flow. So yes, nerves are a friendly enemy 🙂
Where do you think the future of dance is heading? (Megan, 20)
Chris: Where do you think the world’s heading? If you’ve seen our work in theatres, you’ll have noticed we use a lot of technology within our shows. A lot of choreographers are using tech or commenting on our relationships to it in their work. As dance reflects life, I think these themes will be explored more in the future.
If you’ve seen us live, there’s a good chance you’ll have had your heart in your mouth at times – It might’ve been from us boosting Naomi or Beth up to catch the top of the Charge set, Ali and Martina hanging from the bucket of a JCB 15meters above concrete (without harnesses!) or Danny diving head first down the Scattered ramp. The first time I saw any of those things, I certainly did. The reason we feel on the edge watching those things is that they CAN go wrong…..they don’t because we train them(!!)…. but the beauty of watching live dance is that they could.
Kevin always makes a point at our post show talks to thank our audiences for coming – because it’s YOU GUYS that keep us coming back to theatres near you. Local theatres, like most arts organisations, are finding it tough in 2018, and if we don’t get bums on seats, the theatres could stop booking us, and if we lose that opportunity to WOW you….it’ll only be a matter of time before robots and holograms replace us – and the thrill of uncertainty will go too! The future’s massively exciting and as a company we want everyone to be part of it. So stay tuned and support your local theatres if you want to get a chance to see what’s coming up next!
Danny: I think the future of dance is a very exciting place. I feel like all the art forms are really starting to utilise each other. Film, dance, drama, circus, sports, design. I am super excited about dance dipping in to all these sectors and creating a hybrid physical explosion for the senses. A spectacle that audiences walk away from just in awe and bewilderment about what they have just seen. Something that every person that views it has at least one thing that they loved. The music? The dance? The circus? The heights? The film? Everything? Who knows but I hope there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Alasdair: When we are devising new work we have to explore many different ideas and concepts in order to come up with something new. Social media and the internet makes the world more connected and it’s therefore easier to share and see each other’s work. This stimulates more ideas and you have to delve deeper to find something original. I suspect this will continue and force us to work harder and faster to keep up with current trends.
Kevin Finnan, Artistic Director: Dance goes in phases- we are currently in a phase of rapid expansion of ideas and at some point there will be a contraction and it will be interesting to see what that brings.
Thanks again to everyone who emailed in their questions, we really enjoyed answering them for you.
Be sure to stay up to date with our blog and social media for more festive treats coming your way this December!