ANTONIA GROVE: the dancer

In verbatim on June 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This was another one that originally appeared on the Mayfest blog and it was an email interview from Antonia’s iPhone. I saw her work during the festival and me and Antonia had a few drinks and a dance off in some gay club. I’m not sure how much the person she is comes across in this interview so I’d definitely like to interview her again, properly, over a glass of wine. The image is by Matthew Andrews.

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?

It depends. I used to tailor my answer to the person asking but I always got in a pickle trying to explain that I combine dance, text, music and song in performance, I produce shows that are choreographed / written / directed by people I invite in, I perform for other companies, I choreograph, I teach …

Was it always going to be dance for you, or could it just as easily have been music … or woodwork?

I’m not really good at anything else as far as I know yet. I have a problem with academic study since I tend to fall asleep when I remain still for too long, it’s slightly frustrating but I’ve just always been physically activated. I’d love to play guitar or piano so I could write my own songs – and I’d love to be able to make a table!

You’ve described yourself as a ‘shy child’. Are you still shy? Is Antonia-Grove-the-dancer still shy?

Well, I just got that label as a child I guess. I’m not shy once you get to know me! My mum was similarly ‘shy’ so she tried to stop people labelling me as such, but it stuck anyway and it was a bit hard to shake off, especially as dancing didn’t require me to speak! Speaking up in a group of confident, eloquent people still terrifies me, and as an audience member I break into a sweat when asked to participate during a show. But get me on stage and I’m totally free, happy to do almost anything and relatively fearless. I feel very at home in that ‘zone’ and I love that I can be as much or as little of myself in performance; be as shy or as extrovert as is required for the show.

How autobiographical is your work?

Very, and not at all! I will and do find a bit of myself in every performing role. It’s impossible not to. This solo is great in that I can hide behind a persona one day, enjoy putting on someone else’s mask and totally immerse myself and connect personally with it and its narrative the next, and both are fine and allowed. I am able to be playful with the content and I decide for myself when it’s autobiographical or not, and of course life evolves as does a show once its in performance so that continually shifts. But it doesn’t really matter anyway, it’s what works and communicates best with the audience that matters.

In a world without dance, what would be lost?

In my yoga class on Saturday, the teacher said that dance started as a form of meditation before it became an art form; it sounds viable, so I’m gonna go all yogic with that and say that without dance we would lose the connection with ourselves completely on some primitive mind / body level. I’d say it’s impossible to imagine ‘world without dance’ since we start dancing soon after we can walk. Both my kids loved spinning themselves into a trance aged one, and stamping and jumping like cavemen at two. So if dance was prohibited in public it would be bursting out in private!

You’re heading for the Mayfest Café, what cake are you secretly praying is on offer?

Ok, hard question. I am not really a one answer decisive kinda gal so it’s either: A) A lemon/orange Italian style polenta yummy moist one OR B) A dense rich chocolate cake, made with ground almonds, yummmm! Other suggestions welcome.

When you first step on stage on an opening night, do you hold your breath till the lights come up?

It depends how long a blackout there is, I don’t have great lung capacity! If you mean ‘do I get nervous?’, then yes, I definitely do. But I would say that I’ve just got more accustomed to that feeling and not letting the adrenaline overwhelm me too much. Nerves can be useful sometimes but if I didn’t breathe I’d faint, which wouldn’t be good, although I could probably make it work in Small Talk since all the women are slightly crazy!

This interview was originally published on the Mayfest blog. Mayfest is Bristol’s annual festival of contemporary theatre, produced by MAYK in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic and in association with organisations across the city. // //


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