Two artists supported by Derby-based regional dance house Déda as part of its innovative Associate Artist Programme have been awarded a national grant to carry out research into contemporary dance and circus performance.
Internationally-renowned dance, acrobatic and physical theatre artists Nikki & JD have teamed up with fellow Déda Associate Artist choreographer Ben Duke as well as contemporary dancer Ellis Saul on the research project with much of the work carried out at Déda’s studios in Chapel Street.
The research programme has been awarded a £6,825 grant from the National Dance Network which is supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and delivered by DanceXchange.
Nikki & JD – artists Nikki Rummer and Jean-Daniel Broussé – started their relationship with Déda in 2016 through a National Centre for Circus Arts residency. Their highly-acclaimed latest work ‘Knot’ has toured nationally and was created at Déda.
Nikki & JD’s mentor in the project is Ben Duke who is also part of a three-year research programme at Déda – supported by the Esmée Fairburn Foundation and the University Of Derby – to explore the relationship between dance and contemporary circus.
Nikki Rummer explained: “With the support of the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project, we will explore how contemporary dance can inform the circus artists’ use of tension-building within their work.
“Circus frequently struggles to maintain narrative within choreography. It is often near-impossible or indeed extremely dangerous to perform some tricks without rigid tension.
“The choreography of a piece and particularly the softer movements to convey emotions might stop altogether while the artist prepares for a trick and this can affect the audience who audibly hold their breath in nervous anticipation of what they are about to see.
“The challenge for the choreographer is therefore how to incorporate spectacular ‘tricks’ that add to, rather than interrupt, the story we are telling through the dance choreography in a performance.
“By working with Ben and Ellis, we aim to identify new methods for circus choreography and adapt contemporary dance skills to enhance the story-telling potential of acrobatic moves and increase cross discipline between artists.”
Déda Director Stephen Munn added: “We are delighted that two key members of our Associate Artists Programme will be working so closely together on such an innovative piece of research and development.
“Their collaborative work will greatly influence the development of performance techniques in the future and will enhance Déda’s vision to become the Midlands’ creative centre for dance, contemporary circus and outdoor performance.
“We therefore look forward to hosting these artists here at Déda – giving them the studio time and creative space to work together on this fascinating piece of research.”