North London choreographer Jasmin Vardimon is currently wowing critics and audiences with her production Park – and there’s even more to come in 2015. The acclaimed choreographer talks to Mark Kebble about her home from home, Sadler’s Wells, and what Maze is all about
Well we are right in the middle of Park’s tour – how is it going?
It’s going really well. We have had some fantastic reactions and most of the venues have been sold out so far. It’s great to be taking it back to Sadler’s Wells. I am half way through the tour, but I am starting on a big collaboration with Ron Arad. I am actually going to see how they are getting on with the build. It’s a pretty big operation!
Being a North Londoner, is it always special to have one of your productions on at Sadler’s Wells?
It is. I have been an Associate Artist since 2006 and they have been commissioning and supporting my work since then. It always feels a little bit like coming back home when I perform at Sadler’s Wells and we have our very own committed audience that have been following our work. So it’s a nice feeling, but always exciting at different times.
Did you have to think twice when you were offered the chance to become Associate Artist there?
No, I didn’t have to think twice! I feel it’s an honour to be involved with such a venue and also the opportunities that this offers me. They don’t just commission, but since Park (back in 2006) they have commissioned all of my work. We also work together with the education department on my different projects – I am just working with the National Youth Dance Company. So I am working with them on different levels.
How important is the venue for dance?
They are very forward-thinking there and challenging, which is great to be part of, so it is very important. Dance as an art form has many different genres within it. What Alistair Spalding [Sadler’s Wells’ Artistic Director] offers is a real mix and a rich programme, which shows the variety of dance. But he also asks questions and takes risks, showing things that are maybe less popular but has a very good artistic value. I like the integrity he has for the art form he supports.
You’ve been a part of the UK dance scene for two decades Jasmin – how has it changed?
I didn’t start here in London. I grew up in Israel and then worked across Europe – it was around 15/16 years ago that I came here. I must say London is a multi-cultural city and has plenty to offer, and you can see many different ways of communicating with the audience. For me I found it interesting to work here because of the multi-cultural nature of the city. My company is a real mix and is very international, we have dancers from eight different countries and they all bring their own understanding and sensibilities to the work.
You are so well respected for the work you produce Jasmin, so how do you sit down and prepare something new?
I have many ideas in my head and they tend to be there for years until something triggers it. Something may happen around me. It bubbles away for a long time. I then like to read and watch films and do my own research before I go to the dancers. Then we start to research together for about three to four weeks. I always look at different ways to communicate with an audience. I work a lot with text and media, and sometimes it can contradict each other or offer a different point of view. The sensory experience of seeing, hearing and smelling. At the moment as a choreographer I am not interested with solely movement – I’m interested in the communication of movement, voice, text and different visuals. When I work with performers I’m interested in enhancing their emotions.
Can you talk much about the partnership with Ron Arad and what we will see at the Turner Contemporary in Margate?
I like to create something exciting and different to what I normally do. As an artist it’s very exciting to work outside of my comfort zone. So this was an opportunity to create work that exists between our two worlds, dance theatre to visual art work. Here we are interested in creating something much more immersive for the audience so like you feel almost on stage with the dancers. There’s something very intimate about the experience.
I approached Ron Arad and Guy Bar Amotz (sculpture expert) to come together to create a piece of work. The concept is called Maze, which is currently a working title. The idea is when you enter you have a choice of paths that you can take, which has a different offer and the audience can experience different performances as well.
Is this something totally different to what you have produced before?
It is and it’s very exciting. Usually when I create something the audience are seeing it just from the front – here it’s 360 degrees. The options of what will happen are endless. The process has involved a lot of discussion with Ron and Guy, talking about structure and texture of the environment.
And what else does 2015 hold in store – and anything in particular at Sadler’s Wells?
We are going to carry on with Park from January, so I have just a small break over Christmas. We also have a lot of development plans for our own building [in Kent]. It will be like a creative hub to explore musical disciplines artistically.