Congratulations on forming your own company – what brought it about, how did you settle on the name Umanoove and what does it mean?
For a long time I have been very interested in starting my own company and now the time seemed right. My kids are a bit older, I moved back to England two and half years ago and with all the expertise I’ve built up from freelancing for top companies around the globe for 16 years I felt ready to start Umanoove. I can develop my work with dancers of my choosing and I have more artistic freedom. Umanoove is a name I’ve had in my head for probably 20 years. It is a combination of 4 words: human, manoeuvre, move and you. If you say ‘human move’ fast 4x in a row you’ll get Umanoove.
Your first piece is called The Happiness Project – do tell us all about it…
Just simply a very interesting subject, something we all know and strive for but experience and search for in a very individual way. I wanted to explore this sensation, physicalise and research it. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT has become a choreographic investigation of western society’s endless search for fulfilment.
Dance is constantly evolving – where would you say you plug into that evolution? And who are your dance heros?
I’m not sure where I plug in, I can see that it is fairly rare for a female choreographer to start her own company after having experienced working for bigger established companies for such a long time. When I stopped dancing there were not that many project companies about and it is wonderful to see that this has evolved over the last 16 years. My dance heros are Pina Bausch, Maguy Marin, Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek, Wendy Houston, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe and Alain Platel amongst others.
So what next for you and the company?
We had our premiere in Ipswich at the weekend; over the next 2 weeks we’ll be performing in Bracknell, Winchester, Bath, Falmouth, Birmingham and Chichester. Then we have a break and I’ll be preparing my next work for Umanoove as well as teach at the Royal Ballet School, create a new small work for Rambert School, teach at the Prix de Lausanne and re-stage part of an old work of mine for Danish Dance Theatre. We then pick up again with Umanoove at the end of April with 7 more performances in Leeds, Glasgow, Exeter, Southhampton and London on 2 & 3 of May ’17.
What’s your biggest dance wish?
That is a big question and since I’m close to my premiere I don’t have the time to dig very deep but for myself it would be to continue building Umanoove, create more productions, share performances with international audiences and have my own studio space where I could work on a permanent basis. For dance globally I would like to see highly trained contemporary dancers earn a good salary, see much more dance on television and integrate older dancers into companies or productions.