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A Family of Dancers

Can you tell me what you’ve been up to recently?
We were on holiday in Italy and now it’s back to school for Stella and for us. Simonetta teaches at The Laban Centre and Rick teaches at London Contemporary Dance school.

You’re bringing your show The Nodines to Pavilion Dance South West in a few days. Can you tell us a little more about the piece and how it came about?
Stella has been exposed to dance from when she was in her mum’s belly.  When she was a little baby we used to play and dance a lot in our living room.
The Nodines is an extension of something that was present because of our practice and sometimes we said “it would be nice to present what we are doing with Stella in a performance.”
Then we were involved in a dance film by Rachel Davies that was looking at the relation between dancing parents and their children. After that Simonetta and Stella were part of a Dance Theatre show ‘7 to 75’ .
The idea of involving our child in a performance became more and more real. After that we were asked to teach workshops with children and parents at The Place.  
We went back to our practice/movement/dance and we started with the idea of sharing with other families our way to play through dance with our child.  We observed that what appeared was  our training in Contact Improvisation, a dance form that involves physical contact and listening, trust and playfulness and those elements are present naturally in children’s movement. So we were supporting and extending something that is natural to them. We had a vocabulary and for the dramaturgy of The Nodines we really left space for Stella to propose ideas and themes.

How has your practice changed over time?
As ageing dancers we need to become more respectful of our body’s needs. Dancers get plenty of exercise so becoming able to understand when it is enough, and when to stop there, is important as you get older. There is always tomorrow to do more.We evolve in how we warm up and are still questioning and researching what is a good practice, a good training. Over time we have accumulated a lot of information and reflections and this provides clarity in terms of dancing and thinking about performance.

What’s your strongest memory from your childhood? 
Simonetta: My strongest memory of my childhood is playing with my brother and cousins in the wooden house that was in my garden in Turin, Northern Italy. We were organising specific journeys around, between and on top the wooden house (during the time they became more and more complex and difficult). We named the different journeys and we were racing. It was very exciting and physically very challenging.

Stella, what superpower would you have and why? 
To breathe under water because I love swimming in the sea!

What would you say is the most important part of being a family unit?
Humour! It is also the love in its various manifestations that creates the core of a family and returning to the love that will help to find the unity when difficult times arrive.

As you mention, both Rick and Simonetta work in the dance industry – What advice would you give to other parents who juggle a demanding career and family life?
That it is fantastic to have both family and a demanding career. They are nourishing each other. If you are involved and interested in your career you will be a more complete person within the family .We need to remember that is not only important the amount of time that you dedicate to the family but is important the quality of your time.

Seeing as you’ll be by the seaside, what are your favourite ice cream flavours? 
Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio and Nutella (Stella loved that flavour in Italy)

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