One week down and our tour assistants Molly Wright and Charlotte Chow-Hughes talk behind the scenes…
NDT2 arrived at Heathrow airport all in good spirits ready for the six-week tour; the first stop… Woking New Victoria Theatre.
To the dancers’ delight, each member of the company was greeted at the hotel with warm chocolate cookies!
We were all welcomed at the stage door by friendly faces as the crew began the load in.
The usual day for the company starts with an hour and fifteen-minute-long ballet class followed by rehearsals for each specific programme, which differs from venue to venue. During class, the dancers always do half an hour of ballet-barre work followed by centre work; this allows them to warm up and constantly improve on their technique – all with the assistance of Nancy the Executive Artistic leader and Peter the Rehearsal Director. One interesting fact about NDT2 is that they travel with their own pianist who for the first leg of the tour is Carlos; he plays during every class!
We had the privilege to watch the opening night of the tour and it was incredible! We loved the variety of the pieces and admired the skills and techniques of the dancers.
One piece that stood out the most was Cacti, as the precision of the rhythm section was so impressive to see and also hear. Moreover, the use of voice-overs and story-like sequences captivate the light hearted humour of the piece.
"They put on a fine show, always looking well rehearsed and sharp – this year was no different."
'Cacti is witty, original, entertaining and spectacular as well as cleverly-crafted and beautifully performed. It mocks its post-modern concerns and ambience, which only makes them more intense. I loved it'
After the first performance, there was a Q&A with two of the dancers from the company at which point audience members had the opportunity to ask questions about the performance. This was extremely popular with many dance enthusiasts eager to find out more about NDT2 and the lives of the dancers. The Q&A sessions happen on the first night at every venue.
The two performances in Woking were a success! On Thursday we took a short hour-long trip to Southampton. The load in to the Mayflower Theatre began at 6pm and continued the next morning. With the theatre being one of the largest in the UK, this was one of the biggest venues on the UK tour!
During the journey between Woking and Southampton, we sat down to have a chat with members of the company.
Peter Chu, NDT2’s Rehearsal Director let us in on what he does in the company: “I am the rehearsal director for the second company of NDT. I guide rehearsals; I help set work and existing work. I act as a liaison between the director and the dancers as well. Everyday just giving notes and nurturing all of the choreography works.”
Grace Lyell gave us a run down of a typical day in NDT2, “Before a show we usually have ballet class then we have rehearsals preparing pieces for the other days. We then have a long break before the start of the performance. During this, I usually chill with my friends and make a big old salad with lots of weird ingredients, which we have collected from various places, usually the hotel breakfast. Then we go back to the theatre, get our hair and make up ready – which takes quite a while – and then everyone has his or her own personal warm up. I also like to do a bit of visualisation before I go on; I picture everything I want to do on the night and how I’m going to do it.”
Saturday morning began with a workshop with local young dancers. One of the NDT2 dancers Graham led the session and taught the dancers a short extract from a piece from the repertoire. After this it was the usual routine for the dancers: class followed by rehearsals. The excitement on tour is definitely building! Next stop… Salford!