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Solo work turns the spotlight on Rosie's dance journey
Audiences at home and in a Birmingham theatre will be able to enjoy the premiere of the latest work by Birmingham choreographer and dancer Rosie Kay.
The new piece forms part of the Absolute Solo II triple bill which will be performed at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on November 21 and can be viewed online. Created largely during lockdown, the production, which has yet to be titled, is inspired by pioneering women choreographers and Rosie's own journey as a dancer and performer.
Rosie says: "It's an autobiographical exploration of a woman's body and the need to dance as well as the meaning of dance. I'm exploring my family history, big events in my life such as pregnancy and also times when I've stopped dancing. The text hints at something which is a long story and then the dance tells it in two minutes and you feel it and don't have to say any more."
Within the piece Rosie is also looking at the work of a host of German Expressionist female choreographers including Gret Palucca, Valeska Girt and Mary Wigman. "These women are themselves - they are not pretending to be something else or trying to be arty, deep or weird," she says. "It's rare to see women absolutely be themselves on stage. Women are often asked to play some kind of a role or strive for perfection."
A dancer for more than 20 years, Rosie has created a host of successful shows including choreographing the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Handover in 2018 which was seen by more than a billion people across the globe and she co-directed a new adaptation of Woyzeck with more than 100 community performers at Birmingham Rep. But with Absolute Solo II she returns to dancing alone.
Rosie gave up dancing five years ago to focus on choreography and running Birmingham-based Rosie Kay Dance Company – but a visit to Canada reignited her desire to be back on stage. She says: "The idea of me returning to solo work came about last year. I had a secondment with Ballet British Columbia and I was doing class in Vancouver with the dancers each day and I really missed the excitement and adrenaline of actually dancing the work. So when I got back home I started toying with ideas and I felt there was something there in my life story to explore."
And she adds: "Then when I was in America with 5 Soldiers in February one of my dancers couldn't get to America until two weeks into the run so I stepped in and danced in the show. While we were sat in the US thinking 'there's going to be a lockdown' I thought that now I'd been back on stage I should start looking at the idea of a solo performance."
Also in the programme is Artemis Clown which looks at ideas of Pierrot-style clowning, performance and femininity set to music by Kurtag, Ravel and Corelli. And there will be an archive film of Rosie's international award-winning Patisserie.
Performed on November 21 in Birmingham and November 28 in Newcastle, tickets are sold out but the shows will also be available free of charge to viewers at home.
It is the first time Rosie has performed to two such different audiences simultaneously so that too is a learning curve. "You rehearse it in two different ways – one for a big theatre and one for camera," she says. "My husband, Louis Price, is in charge of filming it so he will come into the studio so I can get used to having the cameras in the space. Then I can watch the footage and check it. You need a balance because when you perform for camera it's a bit more minimal but you also don't want to lose that connection with a live audience. So when I watch it I'll be looking for 'that's too much for camera' or 'that's not enough for a big theatre'."
Register in advance to watch Absolute Solo II online on 21 or 28 November at rosiekay.co.uk/solo