Didy Veldman’s The Knot, a dance theatre take on matrimony, will be at the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth on November 14.
Dutch-born choreographer and director Didy has brought together a cast of seven dancers playing the roles of the bride, groom, best man and bridesmaids for an evening in which audience members will become the wedding guests as the celebrations unfold.
The theatre will become a wedding venue. As the guests arrive, so the excitement builds and scenes of love and togetherness overcome the nerves of the wedding party.
The Knot is Veldman’s second work for her company Umanoove since it launched with her criti-cally-acclaimed The Happiness Project in 2016.
Dancing in The Knot, just as he did in The Happiness Project, is Dane Hurst, a dancer delighted to see how well and how quickly the company is establishing itself.
“The company is a young company, and Didy is really experienced. She already had her own company when she was in her early 20s and she has become an international artist. I was part of the first creation, The Happiness Project which was a work about questioning happiness and about why we all search for it but we never get close to holding it for a longer period of time. We all have different interpretations of happiness and what we are asking of life. It was the work that launched the company and then went on an international tour.
“Didy handpicks all of the dancers. We are all freelance artists that have had careers of a number of years. We all bring a certain maturity to it. Didy has made works for big, big companies, but this is great to be a small ensemble company. We can be free to really explore and experiment without the weight of too many dancers. Last time we were exploring happiness; this time it is marriage, and I think with a small company you can really dig deep and really get to the root of the themes we are looking at. I think that’s something that can sometimes get lost when you have got a big company of 50 or so dancers. This is a small company, but it is a young and vibrant company as well, and I think it has got a very bright future. This is the second production and it is already twice as big as the first.”
Didy scrutinises what a wedding means and how it feels in The Knot. The role of ritual, doubt, religion and gender is examined and the romanticised ideas of Walt Disney challenge our percep-tions of marriage.
“It is about the thought of being married and about the whole day of the event of the marriage. The performance is looking at the ceremony, and the idea is that the guests are the audience members. There are a few moments where we have the audience members participating.
“Dance is a good way to communicate and explore it all because you might be single at a wed-ding and you might be considering getting married, and those are things that are expressed in your body language and in your facial expressions. A lot of the ritual aspects of marriage are conveyed through movement, and the whole visual aspect of it all is very strong.”
Dancers returning to The Knot this autumn are: Dane Hurst (Rambert, National Dance Company of Wales, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Company Wayne McGregor); Mathieu Geffré (Dansgroep Amsterdam, Noord Nederlandse Dans, National Dance Company Wales, Theo Clinkard); Oihana Vesga Bujan (Richard Alston Dance Company); Oliver Chapman (Henri Oguike Dance, National Dance Company of Wales, Icon Dance); Sara Harton (erSa Danse, Les 7 doigts de la main, PPS Danse, ezdanza); and Angela Venturini (recently a post-graduate student at The Place). Joining them is apprentice dancer Sam Costello (London Contemporary Dance School).
Stravinsky’s Les Noces (The Wedding) is intertwined with specially-commissioned music by London and Paris-based British composer Ben Foskett. His work has included commissions for CBSO Youth Orchestra and London Children’s Ballet.