Nikki and JD are an acrobatic duo, merging contemporary dance and circus. Their latest show Knot is touring the UK over the next few weeks. LGBTQ Arts’ Amie Taylor caught up with JD to find out more about this piece and their work.
AT: Tell us a bit about you, how you came to be a circus artist…
JD: So I actually started by studying literature, and I moved to England for my final year of studying at UCL, in London. When I finished I didn’t really know what to do, so I did some acrobatics at the Roundhouse and I got quite in to it, and then ended up doing the opening of Circolumbia , where young people do the opening of their show. So after that I applied to circus school.
And Nikki was a gymnast when she was a kid, but ended up doing anthropology, and then worked as a fundraiser for many years, but 6 years ago decided to quit her job and become a circus performer. So we both came from more academic backgrounds.
AT: Your next show Knot is touring this month, tell us a little bit about it…
JD: It’s about relationships in any way or form and it’s our story as performers working together. The show came about because we always found when you do cabaret, people want to see star-crossed lovers having difficulties and then they get together; being a gay man I was a bit adversed to the idea of being this heterosexual couple on stage. So I wanted to make something true to me. But working with a woman on stage, you can’t get away without people reading in to what you’re doing.
AT: And what inspired you to make it?
JD: So one day we did a cabaret and the compere told us that we had to spend the show trying to find each other and then at the end we’d kiss and he would come onstage and marry us. And we said okay, but when we got to the end I recoiled from the kiss, I didn’t want to go through with it. But we thought there was a story in that. So we start the show with this idea, and we make it sound like we’re a couple for the beginning of the show and talking about our story, until I come out, and then it becomes more about the uniqueness of this relationship and we talk about the reality of it.
AT: Why does this feel relevant for 2019?
JD: Our society has the idea that a ‘normal’ relationship is a man and a woman, but we want to say it’s okay and that there are other ways of being. There’s a bit more space for freedom and exploring what relationships are.
AT: What do you hope the audience will take away from watching?
JD: I guess what we’re really trying to do with this show is to bring people on a journey with us. We discovered each other through this show – I think people often question if the story is true, and then they thank us for sharing. I like having that connection with the audience. And it’s a story about real people, so the audience get to see some of their life in it too.
AT: You mentioned earlier that you’re in Helsinki working on your next piece – what is that piece all about?
JD: It’s evolving every day, but the next piece is again about keeping true to the circus and true to us; we’re exploring control and fear, circus is this idea that you scare the audience but in a very controlled way,. Everyone is very comfortable with being scared. Playing with the control of what scares them and how much can we play with the audience and each other. It’s still quite vague, but that’s where we’re heading.
The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury. May 16, 2019
Artsdepot, London, May 23, 2019
Dance City, Newcastle, Jun 6, 2019
Lakeside Arts Nottingham, Jun 11, 2019
Book to see Knot.
Image © Laurent Cahu