Physically exhilarating and touchingly poignant, Knot is the first internationally acclaimed circus and dance work by Nikki & JD, using hand-to-hand circus skills to tell the tale of an impossible choice: How can we be honest with ourselves without hurting those we love? Knot is a finely crafted theatrical journey through the struggles of commitment.
Ahead of their show here at Dance City on Thursday 6 June, we had a chat with one half of performing duo Nikki & JD, Nikki Rummer, to find out a bit more about the company, the work and what to expect from next week’s performance…
Tell us a bit about how you met (and why you decided to work together)…
We met at the National Centre for Circus Arts nearly 6 years ago where we started to train hand-to-hand (partner acrobatics). Why did we decide to work together? You’ll need to see the show!
What influenced you both to pursue a career in circus performance?
We both sort of fell into it. For me, I’ve always had a magnetic passion towards acrobatics and movement. I discovered circus by chance, after attending a handstand class in north London. JD often says that he started to do circus because it was there. The opportunity arose to try a class, it wasn’t too expensive, and he thought, why not? The rest is history.
What was your inspiration for KNOT?
The truth is, acrobatic partnerships are intense things: we know nearly every inch of each other’s bodies; we spend a lot of time together; and we can’t go on holiday without putting the other person out of work. We wanted to put this on stage and show the cracks between all those highly choreographed moments.
Knot is our first show. We had the pleasure to work with Ben Duke and a team of other dance choreographers and dramaturgs to create a story with heart, humour and movement.
How have your individual styles contributed to the choreography of KNOT?
We both trained capoeira in the past and have had a pretty intense interest in movement and contemporary dance of all styles. JD has this amazing bendy back and fluid movement style which always looks so surprising on such a muscular frame. I can be pretty gymnastics-like in my movement – explosive but sometimes not so soft. We’ve worked with choreographers who have helped us to find our strengths and challenge our comfort zones.
The show is now on it’s second tour, how has the work changed/developed over this time?
We’ve translated the show into French, which was quite a feat because I don’t speak the language! As a result, we’ve been able to tour in France where the audiences have been super. They say the show feels different and British. It’s nice to think we have had a good reception in a country that is notoriously fussy about the performing arts.
What’s the best part of touring ( and what has been your favourite destination so far?)
The travel is amazing, especially as the audience reactions can be so different. Japan was definitely an extraordinary place to visit. As were France, and Korea, and don’t forget some of the UK’s best finds like Canterbury and Brighton.
Do you have any interesting stories from the road?
The stinky tofu in Taiwan was surprisingly good! According to JD. I didn’t try it.
KNOT involves some truly death defying stunts that must take a lot of trust as well as physical strength, how do you prepare yourselves for this?
We’ve got our little routine for warming up. We start low, then take things up high. It’s a sort of comforting process, a way to ease us onto stage before the audience arrives.
What are you looking forward to in the future (more touring/ new projects/ taking a break)?
We’re currently working on a new show, Pass, with a third performer. It’s been an exciting process that’s taken us to Finland and Sweden, and we’ve had the joy of working with the clown artist Thom Monckton and our choreography mentor Ellis Saul. Ellis hails from Newcastle, so it’s a delight to take Knot to her home town! She’s had a huge influence on our work.
What can audiences expect from KNOT when it arrives at Dance City next month (what do you hope they’ll take away from the show)?
The acrobatics are ‘breath taking’; the movement is ‘fluid’ and the story is ‘surprisingly funny’. That’s what we’ve heard from some reviewers! We think it’s a warm show with depth and humour. We hope you like it and, if you do, please stick around to chat!
You can watch Knot by Nikki & JD at Dance City on Thursday 6 June, find out more and book your tickets here.