With the help of our patrons community, we’ve given a grant to dance company Nova Grace Productions. Our good friend Marlita Hill spoke to Nova Grace’s Rosy Nevard about their new project, ‘Unlocked’—a project which emerged out of lockdown, taking their creative performances developed over Zoom and converting them into a new stage production.
As Rosy says, it’s tough to make the profit margins work on original productions! It’s a joy to help artists realise the projects that they want to create. Join our Patrons scheme for as little as £5 / month – and we can help companies like Nova Grace bring their brilliant ideas to the public.
You’re the artistic director of Nova Grace Productions. What should we know about Nova Grace?
We’re a collection of lovely dancers, Christian and non-Christian. I co-founded the company back in 2016 as a social enterprise. Our initial way of doing things didn’t work out—we’re now a charity. We do all sorts of projects, working internationally—giving people a chance to be involved in dance, to spread to joy, and use it as a way to connect with people.
We’ve started to do our own creative projects, too—theatre, choreography and dance.
Tell us more about what Sputnik is funding.
Thanks so much to Sputnik, and the supporters and patrons—it really does make a huge difference.
The whole project developed out of lockdown; theatres were closed, we had no work to do, back in March 2020. We started doing ballet classes on Zoom, just to keep active, and keep in touch. We started creating, and exploring the environment of our homes.
In the end, we had four 15-minute sections that we’d created at different moments in time, as the lockdowns came and went. We put them together for a virtual performance on Zoom; but as soon as we were able to get back together, we decided to adapt it for stage. We’ve now added a fifth section, using memory and spoken word, using people’s voices. We’re taking it on tour this week!
What was it like to adapt this work from a virtual context to a stage production?
It was so joyful to be back together again. Zoom kept us going, but it was so difficult dance-wise, to stay in time with each other! But adapting the piece has meant so much decision-making. It’s been exhausting.
But it has been fun and exciting. To have a live audience and that feedback, the energy and atmosphere, that’s what theatre is. So I’m really looking forward to it.
When people come to see ‘Unlocked’, what do you hope they walk away with?
We want people to come on the journey with us. Not everybody wants to talk about lockdown—we lived through it, we want to forget about it. But we feel it’s important to talk about things.
We want people to engage with their thoughts and emotions. To find positivity: we did get through it; but also it’s a nod to the hard times, and to the people who lost their lives, the sadness of the whole thing. We want to acknowledge it and pay our respects to it.
Your work explores social issues and difficult topics. What led you to do this, and why is dance the right medium?
Dance is the right medium because we’re dancers! Dance is the tool that I have. But the reason I really believe in it is that it can be interpreted by each person; it speaks without words, and sometimes expresses more than language can.
You’re normally sat in silence watching dance, so you have time to reflection, and your own thoughts, depending what moves you within what you’re seeing.
Finally, how do your faith and art inform one another in the way you work?
It definitely informs how I approach my work; often I don’t have a lot of confidence, in taking risks or pushing ideas that you don’t necessarily feel you’re qualified to pursue. But my confidence and my strength definitely comes from my faith.
And also how I work with other people—the Christians in our company want to use our work relationships to shine God’s light, to show patience, kindness, gentleness, to other people. Because those are not things that are always seen in pressurised environments, like theatre environments can be!