The The Knot is an examination of the social and personal significance of marriage in contemporary Western society…
BM: Marriage is a just such a huge and serious jump in life for all involved… so what should we expect to see and get from The Knot?
DH: I agree, marriage is a serious jump and Didy Veldman’s latest work for (her company) Umanoove grapples with some of the associated tensions, stress, and uncertainty of it all. What you can expect to see in The Knot is a behind-the-scenes look at all that goes into preparing for that big day. If you’re lucky you might be chosen to participate in the ceremony but generally we’ll be examining the big question in detail and looking at the many facets that make it so complex.
What was the creative process like with Didy Veldman and how easy is it to flip from choreographing your own works to being part of another endeavour?
This is my third creative process with Didy and I can say that it’s a very relaxed and comfortable environment within which to work. The work seems to just happen without too much stress. Of course it’s not plain sailing all the time, it always depends on who the artists are in the room because some collaborators are not that easy to work with and can sometimes overpower the room, in that case it requires a strong voice in the front and Didy has a strong voice without being a dictator.
As a choreographer myself I sometimes enjoy just being a dancer again, it means not having to always make decisions and find solutions to every problem. It can be overwhelming leading a company of artists, having to generate creative ideas, solve logistical problems, deal with music, costume ideas, personal doubts and ambitions. You have to sort through all of this in your mind all the time. So I enjoy doing a dance project again where I can sit back a bit, learn a little bit and just put on the dancing shoes so my body can do the dancing and my mind can be free to just be.
How do you keep a piece and your dancing fresh as you tour a work so extensively and will you be changing anything for the autumn tour?
Well this piece is still fresh; we have only performed it twice since creating it earlier this year. We have had a long break between the short spring tour and now, so we’ll need to relearn it all again. I’m not sure if Didy will want to make any changes but seeing that we have some fantastic new dancers who will be joining the team I think maybe they will bring something special to the studio that Didy might like to add into the work. Dance is a live event and I think it’s always different because everyday is different. Some days you perform in a state of ecstasy and then the next in a state of melancholy and depression. Each time the audience will experience it differently and get something different from it.
You are a choreographer and dancer with your own projects – so what else have you got coming up? And how is the Moving Assembly Project going in South Africa?
Yes, I’m really enjoying being different things throughout the year. Sometimes a dancer, then choreographer and teacher and most recently I had a go at acting again in a feature film by Clara Van Gool who directed Lloyd Newson’s ‘Enter Achilles’. The film is called ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ and will be out next year.
At present I have a work of mine on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery with performances occurring every Sunday. The work entitled ANIMALIS is a response to an exhibition entitled ‘The Art of Violence’ and will run until January 2019.
Finally, something I’ve been creating on the side is The Moving Assembly Project, a project close to my heart and that I genuinely love. This year we worked with over 150 kids in South Africa and initiated our first student exchange between students from Rambert School, Jazzart Dance and Nelson Mandela University. The project is still small but our ambitions are huge and we are so proud of what we’ve achieved in the few projects since its founding in 2016. I’m only here in the UK because of what Nelson Mandela and Anya Sainsbury did by creating a scholarship in the 90’s, so this project is my way of continuing that circle of investment.
Who are your dance heroes and why?
My dance heroes are Crystal Pite, Robert Cohan, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Jiri Kilian, Johan Inger and the late Pina Bausch. I could mention so many more but I mention these artists because of their uncompromising approach to creating art, their attention to detail and their ability to truthfully and creatively express the difficult things that exist in our minds and hearts. They’re my dance heroes because I am moved and inspired when I see their work or hear them speak.
Bonus question – Tell us a joke…
I can’t tell a joke but I enjoy others telling them. I’m a bit of a grownup kid at home and crack myself up all the time, usually for the most absurd things. Outside of the house I’m a little more serious so there you go.