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Double Bill: Q&A with Rosie Kay

Tell us briefly about yourself and the company…

I started dancing as a child, trained at London Contemporary Dance School and created solo work while performing in Poland, France, the US and Germany, before forming Rosie Kay Dance Company in 2004. We won Best Independent Company at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in January.

What does a typical day for you involve when you are making a new work with the company? 

When I’m in the studio, I tend to cycle in from home, and either teach class, or arrive towards the end of class to watch the dancers before we start work. I choreograph and work all day, with a lunch hour and a tea break. If I’m lucky, I’ll try to leave a little bit early to get home in time to put my two year old to bed, so I’ll leave the dancers with a task to work on for the last part of the day. This can often be really useful time for them, as it gives them a chance to go over things together, and it helps them work without me in the room! Something that’s come from necessity (having a young child) has turned into an advantage. I’ll try to get home for 5pm to help with Gabriel’s dinner, bath and bed. Once he’s in bed I’ll do an hour or so’s work catching up on emails and production planning, have dinner then get to bed!

What can audiences expect from this double bill?

Two very different works! You’ll be amazed it’s the same dancers, and even the same choreographer! But they share an exactness of timing, detailed approach, and investment in collaboration. Double Points: K is simply an Everest of timing, concentration, stamina and technique. It’s intricately choreographed, with amazing music. It’s an abstract work, yet somehow it packs a huge emotional impact- the joy and beauty of dance is very moving. It was made in collaboration with choreographer Emio Greco | PC – I learnt and was given a work of theirs to reinterprete. Motel is inspired by the work in visual artists Huntley Muir and really reflects the dark, sexy world of their paintings. It feels like a film noir you may have imagined, but fractured, cut up, suspended and spliced. Again, it packs an emotional punch. There are themes of intimacy, loneliness and deep longing. It’s also incredibly sexy and more than a bit disturbing!

Together they form an exciting night of top rate dance.

As an award winning and nationally prolific company, do you feel an expectation or pressure when creating work?

It’s been lovely to make a smaller scale double bill in between the large works (5 Soldiers and upcoming work MK Ultra). I’ve loved working so intimately and closely with dancers Shelley and Oli. I try not to think about the pressure in the studio- I focus on the work, but every now and again it creeps up on me! I strive to always challenge myself- so I never quite know how I’m going to achieve my vision. If the fear is my own, the outside pressure is always secondary.

Can you tell us a bit more about Huntley Muir and how their paintings came to inspire your latest dance piece, Motel?

I was lucky enough to meet them a few years ago at a residency at Dance East, facilitated by Jonathon Lunn. I made a short dance sketch under time pressure and we all felt it was worth exploring further. It’s taken a few years, but when I got the opportunity and contacted them again they absolutely remembered my work and immediately agreed to first let me use their works, but then the came on board as collaborators and designed the set, costumes and video projection. I’m totally thrilled as it was such a pleasure working with them and very inspiring as a female artist.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

Well, in Motel there is one very real life, personal experience in the piece. I experienced domestic abuse many years ago in a relationship, which altered my concept of the safety of the bed, of bedrooms, and even of sleep. I’ve never publicly talked about it before, but it deeply affected me. Motel has a moment directly from my experience, and I talked it through with the dancers Shelley and Oli. I didn’t think it would affect me, bringing it up, but it did, and I talked through my past with both my husband (who knew) and my mum (who didn’t). All I can say is that The Archers (and the storyline with the domestic abuse of Helen by husband Rob and the subsequent trial) certainly helped my mum and I talk about it!

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Some of the most incredible responses has been from serving soldiers who see 5 Soldiers. It seems to open something up in them, and they stay after a show and talk for hours to me and the dancers about their experiences. That’s been incredible.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Never, ever give up. Oh – and stay fit!

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