Photography by Foteini Christofilopoulou
Your new touring show is called @HOME – what’s it about?
The work questions what feeling ‘at home’ means and how rarely we find that safety and sense of belonging, especially in our global world. We pretend borders do not exist and at the same time defining our identity has become more important than ever. I think the piece will also have wide appeal – our aim is to make it thought-provoking as well as entertaining; it has dramatic moments, some humour, and amazing dancing. Music is always key to my work so I’m really excited that we’ll be working with an original score by Sabio Janiak.
What inspired you to make the piece?
After seeing so many problems around the world with people being displaced and not having a home anymore, I started to wonder where I feel at home. Being Dutch and having lived in Holland, the Caribbean, Switzerland and the UK, having travelled the world as a dancer and choreographer, I felt I didn’t have a permanent home…these movements were my own choice which, of course, you cannot compare to people fleeing their country.
Tell us about your dancers
My dancers need to be fearless; physically and technically strong and willing to explore anything. And they need to be able to trust each other completely. I like working with people who come from different backgrounds who bring their experiences into the work and can draw from their own stories and histories. Oliver Chapman was part of The Knot, our previous production as well as the research and development that took place around @HOME at DanceEast and Jacob’s Pillow in the US.
Nicholas Tredea was a student at Rambert School whom I met when I was creating a new work with the students. Melody Tamiz is an interesting artist and beautiful mover. Theo Arran and Hannah Ekholm are newcomers; they are strong dancers and I’m keen to get to know them better throughout this process.
Tell us about working with composer Sabio Janiak
I met Sabio when he was playing for contemporary dance classes I taught at the London Contemporary School and Royal Ballet School. I loved his approach to music; he’s a multi-instrumentalist and continuously explores different sounds in class. Music is central to the work of Humanoove – The Happiness Project had live accompaniment from Alexander Balanescu and The Knot used Stravinsky’s wonderful Les Noces. Working with Sabio will be taking us in a different direction and we’re looking forward to working together.
Who are your other collaborators and how did you find them?
Ben Ormerod is a lighting designer I’ve worked with many times; he saw a work I created for Rambert called Greymatter in 1997 and told me he finally understood contemporary dance and that he was keen to work with me! Our first production together was for Ballet Gulbenkian in 2001 called ‘See Blue Through’ for which he created an exceptional light design. Since then we have worked together on many creations including all of Humanoove’s productions. Designer Joana Dias created the set and costumes for The Knot; she’s incredibly creative and a great sounding board. She also designed ‘Sense of Time’ together with me for Birmingham Royal Ballet.
What do you hope audiences will gain from the experience of seeing @HOME?
I would like audiences to relate and reflect on what they’ve seen, enjoy themselves and feel connected to the idiosyncrasies that make us human. Hopefully some images and moments throughout the work will leave an imprint. If I could achieve that, that would be magical!
And finally how do you think the dance world has changed over the last 18 months and what are your hopes for the future of dance?
I think the biggest change was initially the total halt to live performances. Then, as we slowly started to come back, the challenges with audience numbers – unlike some sporting events – due to social distancing regulations. Like everybody else we discovered the use of Zoom and creating works through Zoom, which brings with it its own challenges! Film has become hugely important but not a replacement for live theatre. Being self-employed and working in dance has proved very challenging; you need unprecedented resilience, flexibility and perseverance.