BY NIDHA KHAN
‘Magical’, ‘vibrant’, ‘stellar’, and ‘eccentric’ – a handful of words being whispered about the New Zealand Dance Company’s latest national tour: Kiss The Sky. We heard through the grapevine that it’s a show that’ll leave you dreaming for more. Naturally, we needed to find someone who could give us insider knowledge and a peek into the life of a professional dancer: cue dancer Chris Clegg and an all-to-eager-to-fire-a-bunch-of-questions Nidha.
What is your first memory of dancing?
One of my first experiences dancing that really brought me into the contemporary world was a project with Atamira Dance Company in collaboration with some locals schools (one of them my school) and the Unitec 1st year contemporary students.
Did you always want to be a dancer?
I think I realised I wanted to ‘give it a shot’ when I was in year 12. I really didn’t have much else to go off while in school, but during my three years of training in Wellington at the NZ School of Dance I found out how much I really enjoyed this art form and how much I wanted to explore and pursue it more and more. I feel I have been very lucky to experience and come into this industry with the help and guidance of a lot of my teachers and friends.
Why did you decide to pursue dancing as a career?
Honestly, because it’s fun and I really enjoy moving and learning more knowledge from different styles of dance, too!
What’s something you wish people knew about dancing as a profession?
That in some cases it is a full-time job 9-5 (9-5.30). Sometimes I get responses when I say that I’m a dancer and people say “That’s a job?, What do you do all day?” etc. This is a hard question to answer because there’s a lot people don’t know about dance as a profession or that it’s even a career.
What has your experience with Kiss The Sky been like?
It’s been challenging both physically and mentally–I don’t think I’ve ever been this sore before! Although, I did say the same thing when I was performing at NZSD last year for their graduation season, so I suppose this new experience is just like the last – I’m excited to push through, learn and get stronger! Life at school was very different and I’ve never had so much mental instability in my life before, so learning about how to control my mental health or at least understand it has been the biggest challenge so far and again I’m excited to push through it, learn and get stronger!
Was the experience what you had expected?
No. Like with a lot of new upcoming experiences it’s always hard to go into new situations not always knowing what to expect. I’m just enjoying learning a whole bunch of different things every day and growing as a person.
What do you think sets Kiss The Sky apart from other dancing tours or performances?
For me Kiss The Sky is a very special tour because one of the pieces in the show was created by Tor Columbus, one of my tutors back at the School of Dance. She has been incredible along my journey and towards so many other generations of New Zealand dancers, really guiding us with a lot of her knowledge and care that she gives to everything. Being a part of her process for me was super exciting and fun, also challenging, but in a good way! I’m always really excited to perform her work and have the opportunity to do so.
How do you want the audience to feel after watching the performance?
However you want to feel!! I think contemporary is great in that way. A lot of people, and I used to think it too, would sit there not understanding what a show was about or get stressed about not figuring it out. Like with everything and anything you experience, you do so in different ways from other people. There is no right or wrong feeling after watching a performance because it simply brings up things that you either connect with or you don’t. One thing I would say though would be to at least appreciate the fact that everyone sees everything differently and that’s ok! Just be present in observing and watching what’s in front of you – what does it make you think of and in turn make you feel, it will be unique for everyone!
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