Feature: Recommended by... Jonathan Goddard

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Jonathan GoddardPhoto: Pari Naderi *Jonathan Goddard started this year with a flurry of nominations in the Olivier
and Southbank Show Awards and became the first contemporary dancer to win the
Best Male Dancer of the Year National Dance Award for his work with the Richard
Alston Dance Company.*

So how was that for him and what is he recommending we get out there and see?

You’re always competitive as a dancer – but those awards have just given me a
sense of calm that I’ve doing the right thing, working in the right way. It’s
really important for me to communicate with the audience – through abstract dance.
This makes me feel ‘oh yeah, they’ve got it’; I’ve taken abstract dance and made
it accessible. It’s a brilliant feeling.

!/mmfiles/old/images/8d98ae9001268302700fc97a76779258.jpg(Peter Doig ‘Ski Jacket’ 1994 Tate © Peter Doig)! I really like going to see art exhibitions and recently saw the retrospective
of Peter Doig’s paintings at “Tate Britain”: (until 11 May). They’re massive paintings and its incredibly visually arresting – almost like going to the theatre. I think if you’re used to watching dance,
you’ll find there’s a kind of implied narrative in his pictures, so there’s that
sort of similarity there. I immediately felt at home when I went into the exhibition.
Sometimes with modern art I can feel a little bit lost, because it’s so conceptual.
It reminded me of Richard Alston’s work, in that Doig is also really interested in beauty. His pictures are a bit
like Klimt. There are landscapes and figures within them, but it’s also very abstract,
very colourful, very attractive. And it’s modern work – Doig is one of Britain’s
highest paid artists at the moment. To see so much of his work collected together is
really exciting. I recommend it – it’s good!

Kneehigh Theatre's 'Brief encounter' Photo: Alistair Muir I try and see lots of different things and that feeds into my performances. I
think if I just went to see dance I’d get bogged down with it. A lot of theatre
really helps. Although I do abstract work, I like watching how people ‘do’ stuff – how they move – which leads me to *Kneehigh Theatre’s Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, at the Cinema Haymarket* (booking until Sept 08)

Brief Encounter is one of my favourite films. I love Noel Coward. All those words – he’s so clever. I wasn’t sure how it would translate to the
stage, but I went along because I thought it would be very physical. It is almost
dance; everything is choreographed. There’s definite undertones of movement coming
in and out of the whole production. There are comparisons with the theatre company
Complicite – in that they use projection and the movement has been very much thought about
and stylised. It’s in a dis-used cinema in the Haymarket and they’ve recreated
the 1930’s in there, so it’s an all involving experience. As you go in, the actors
are all out in the auditorium. They all play instruments – and they all sing.
It seems to be how the theatre is moving these days – people seem to want these
all encompassing experiences. Kneehigh really convey the atmosphere of *Brief Encounter*. You get that sense of the incredible repression. Its all Very British, nobody
says anything – but it also really entertaining – they really get that sense
of deep emotion in there and a lot of it comes through movement. Definitely worth
seeing.

Another all involving theatrical experience I’d really like to have is Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death – but it ends its run at Battersea Arts Centre 12 April and it’s sold out! One of the things that intrigues me about it
is that they’ve built in to the show an audio described feature for blind people.
That is something that’s been tried in dance – and it’s very difficult to make
it accessible. It sounds like Punchdrunk may have cracked it here though.

Wayne McGregor | Random Dance 'Entity' I’m looking forward to seeing Wayne McGregor Random Dance’s new work atSadler’s Wells – 12 April). I’ve really enjoyed the work that Wayne’s been doing with the
Royal Ballet – and I’ve also seen a piece that he did with Nederlands Dans Theater 1 recently. I love the way he picks really good collaborators – for *Chroma* he worked with the architect John Pawson – and the music and the lighting are always integral. Even if you don’t like
the material – it’s still worth going to see, because it’s like an event – Wayne
is really good at that.

He’s been working with ballet companies a lot lately, as well as being Resident
Choreographer with the Royal Ballet – and I’m very interested to see how he translates
that experience back on to his own company – which now has a whole new set of
dancers. I’ve noticed that he’s starting to make these duets, almost like love
duets – I don’t know if he’d appreciate me saying that – but I find them quite
tender. I’ve watched his work for a long time and this seems to be something
that’s emerging – in the Royal Ballet’s Chroma and in the NDT1 piece, some of the dancers are almost like insects which can’t
quite connect… There’s something quite poignant about it and I wouldn’t have associated
tenderness with Wayne McGregor – his early work seemed hard and extreme. So I’ll
be interested to see if that quality will be coming out in his own company – and
where he’s going from here. This is the first production for Random since Amu, which was a collaboration with composer John Tavener three years ago.

Derek Jarman at the Serpentine exhibition catalogue I’ll definitely be going to see Derek Jarman Curated by Isaac Julien at the Serpentine Gallery 13 April 08). I’ve always been interested in his work. I’ve visited his
cottage at Dungeness, seen most of his films, read his autobiography. One of the
first things that drew me into his work was seeing Nigel Charnock dancing in Edward II [1991]. There seems to be a constant link to dance in his films, which are so
abstract. The exhibition includes a film by Isaac Julien about Jarman, with contributions from Tilda Swinton. His influence has been so huge on British visual arts. Back in the early 1980’s
that seemed to be a real crucible time, all that artistic experimentation – and
the use of Super 8 film. As a dancer that really appeals to me.

I do like British art. I really make an effort with it. All the things I’ve
mentioned have been British. I like to see the chronology of everything, from
now back through to Bloomsbury. I see working with Richard Alston as very much a part of it. He’s an important British choreographer and artist;
part of a significant lineage. There are links with all the things I’ve talked
about here. There’s a sense of repression in Alston’s work which I’d say is similar
to Noel Coward’s – and there’s wit in it sometimes – and beauty of course.

Siobhan Davies DanceTammy Arjona Wheeler in 'Two Quartets'Photo: Pari Naderi Pari Naderi is a friend of mine and she has an exhibition of her photography in the bar
at The Place, to co-incide with the “Springloaded”: season which has just opened there. Pari dances with Siobhan Davies Dance. The company are in a period of change at the moment and Pari documented the
last project they did. She’s used her Dancers Career Development money to set
up as a photographer. It’s fascinating to see dancers photographs – they tend
to know what to look for; to be able to pick out moments that you might not otherwise
notice. Interesting to see a dancers perspective on something they know really
well.

There’s a lot to see in Springloaded – there’s always really interesting things emerging there. The season is subtitled
‘See where dance is going next’. Take a chance on any of the performances and
just see if you agree with that statement!

One last thing to mention – I’ll definitely be going to see my sister Mimi Goddard doing stand up comedy in Brighton on 14 May at the Brunswick. She’s funny.

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