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Preview: NDT 2 at Royal Concert Hall

22 February 22 interview: George White

We hear from Kele Roberson, part of the groundbreaking NDT 2 dance theatre coming to Nottingham this month...

You are part of one of the most popular and influential dance theatres in the world. Do you feel pressure as a result of that, or is it mainly pride? 
I think there is definitely a sense of self-inflicted pressure that comes with dancing in this company. Being somewhere that has had such a significant impact on the concert dance world makes bringing in your expectations from outside of it almost inevitable. But in three years with the company, I’ve found that this feeling - the need to achieve or uphold an externally perceived standard is not really the best way of being part of what makes this company what it is. It’s made room for a transference of emphasis from the institution and its reputation to the values and work being done inside of its walls, and the contribution each can bring to the sharing. 

You often do several performances over consecutive days. How do you deal with the physical and mental challenges of this, if there are any? 
Consecutive shows definitely present their issues. Fatigue is a frequently faced foe and physios, naps, and coffee machines are close allies in battle. The close knit nature of the group also helps us push through such moments - there’s a lot of uplifting one another and crowdsourcing of energy and morale that takes place. But I’m finding that trying to reframe my perspective has been most helpful - these dips in energy do often present themselves with little hidden gems. There’s a nurturing of adaptability and research in variation of approach based on your current state that I think is truly invaluable. I find that fleeting vulnerability and inimitability make live performance what it is, the great reminder that no two shows can or will ever be the same. 

For many of us, this will be a first time traveling and performing internationally as a company

How does it feel to be on an international tour, coming to historic and beloved venues like Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall? 
For many of us, this will be a first time traveling and performing internationally as a company - so it’s definitely quite exciting to be on this tour, particularly after this two year hiatus. For me, there is a lot of excitement that surrounds the unknown of a new space, it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience a location’s unique relationship to performance through a space that has been created for that purpose. And venues with deep artistic, historical pasts such as Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall also create an important juxtaposition of time and the evolution of art. The past is honoured in the space and created works, the present in performer and viewer’s ongoing interpretation, and future in the memory of it that lives on and influences what is to come. 

Do you ever feel different types of energy from different audiences? Do you get a sense for whether people are enjoying the show when you’re on stage, and if so does that affect your performance? 
Definitely. I believe there is an inherent connection between viewer and performer. Vulnerability being a key part of this art form, I think, allows for the development of a great sensitivity to the buzz of many attentions whose shared commonality is you. It’s an ongoing, ever-evolving dialogue that breathes, perhaps more or less loudly. And with each different venue comes navigating a variation in its intensity, as changes in proximity and visibility to the audience can sometimes play quite a significant role in the parameters of this energetic exchange. In the moment, it’s generally without label - just an awareness of focused energy being siphoned in one direction. For me, the deciphering comes after the silent seconds of a blackout, upon the unveiling of the energy source of the evening. 

Why should people come and see the show when you come to Nottingham? What can they expect from the performance?
I think this programme is definitely one to see - the three pieces by Van Manen, Inger, and Goecke all bring something very different to the table. Each world allows you to visit a unique facet of the human experience. Each asks something different of us and therefore, hopefully, of you - a soliciting for participation in the aforementioned energetic dialogue.

NDT 2 are coming to Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 February. Tickets are now available online

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