National Dance Award champion Jonathan Goddard talks to Culture Whisper
INTERVIEW: The winner of 'Outstanding Dancer' at the National Dance awards for his savage Dracula, Jonathan Goddard, dancer, and choreographer, talks drama and the dance glass ceiling.
Jonathan Goddard as Dracula
Formerly of Rambert and the Richard Alston Dance Company, he's worked as movement director with the RSC production, toured with New Movement Collective (the innovating group of dancer-choreographers of which he is a founding member), and mentoring young choreographers as part of Wilton’s Music Hall's new dance festival; a scattering of the projects that reflect an intense, cross-disciplinary curiosity.
It’s a diverse career, but then Goddard has enjoyed more creative freedom since he was awarded the Critics Circle National Dance Award for Best Male Dancer in 2007 – the year after Carlos Acosta – and the world started paying attention. He was the first contemporary dancer to take the prize, and the significance was not lost on Goddard, who campaigned at Rambert for the dancers to be publicly credited (as they always are in ballet): “It was quite unexpected, and put me in a interesting position which I still feel is quite strong. There’s a glass ceiling to modern dancers, and what it did was push me right up against that glass ceiling. It gave me a platform to be able to express certain things.”
Jonathan Goddard & Gemma Nixon Place Prize 2012 entry video
Contemporary is traditionally the democratic, rebellious offspring of ballet, but for Goddard it "still clings to the idea of the choreographer being 'god'." He mused to CW, “I’ve been told many times that there are no stars in modern dance,” but he doesn’t agree, and nor is that a bad thing: “Whatever people can latch onto to make a performance more enjoyable is worth exploring.” At least at NMC, “we take collective responsibility for the choreography, so we’re more like an architectural practice or a fashion house.”
In a year of revisitings, Goddard will reprise his title role in Mark Bruce Company's award-winning dance theatre production of Dracula at the Arts Depot. “It was my first chance to do some acting, which I absolutely loved." His vein of dramatic discovery continues as Movement Director on the RSC’s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona : “With dancers you’re asking them to fulfil your vision. Actors are finding the character from within themselves, you help nurture and encourage, so you can’t be brutal.”
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