Pushing ahead

8 March 2024

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we turn the spotlight on Push, and share the news that we’ve made a female version of the performance.  

Created in 2012 by our Co-Artistic Directors, Kevin & Anthony, Push is considered a classic outdoor dance piece and has been watched by audiences around the world as a male duet.

Following rehearsals, we ask Company Dancer, Alice, and Apprentice Company Dancer, JP, how they have connected to the work as women.

Q1 | Push was originally created by men for men to perform, how have you connected with the work as women?

JP: I think that in the contemporary dance world there is no separation of men and women, movement is unisex. Push for me is a piece that requires muscle strength to lift a person and to be lifted at the same time.

In my experience with partnering so far, I’ve always been the flyer instead of the base. So during the rehearsal process for Push I’ve been doing a lot of weight training to improve my strength as well as learning a lot of skills in partnering.

Alice: Performing Push has been a goal of mine since joining the Company as an Apprentice in 2017, so it’s been exciting to learn the movement and connect with the piece during rehearsals.

I think what has always made this duet so appealing and unique is the depth of connection required between the performers – a level of listening, care and openness that goes beyond the functionality of movement and that will hopefully show in performance!

Q2 | How important is gender in this piece? 

Alice: More than focussing on the gender aspect, during the rehearsal process we have talked extensively about how to let the physicality speak and allow the piece to be a real conversation between one another; a listening act, an attentive and honest series of actions and reactions. Choreographically nothing has changed in comparison to the original cast, the structure of the piece has remained the same.

From a technical perspective, Push is a contact duet with loads of complex lifts and transitions, which can present challenges when transmitting from two bodies to two different bodies. So overall from the inside, I didn’t feel like gender had an important role during the process, but I’m looking forward to hearing audiences’ reactions and what different people read into it.

JP: This piece for me is about the relationship and power dynamic between two people, which is something we come across everyday in the real world between everyone, regardless of gender. However, audiences will develop their own interpretation. Maybe the piece will have a different atmosphere or energy compared to the male duet.

Q3 | The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, what does this mean to you?

JP: In Chinese tradition, men are in charge of earning money and women are in charge of taking care of the family. However, in modern day, men and women are getting the same education and are free to choose what they want to do in the future, in their career, marriage, family and financial independency.

I got more freedom without family pressure. I can choose to live in a foreign country. I can choose to get married without any family pressure. It’s fairer and healthier for my relationship too.

Alice: It’ s a theme that I feel very passionate about, as I think investing in woman, fighting for equality, challenging and overcoming gender stereotypes should be EVERYONE’s priority in today’s age and society and is key for a brighter future.

Thank you Alice and JP for taking the time to talk to us and share your thoughts.

Keep an eye on Tour Dates to see the new version of Push. Will the dancers’ gender influence your thoughts and feelings towards the performance? We’d love to know what you think if you get chance to see it!

Celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 on social and search the hashtag #IWD2024 #InspireInclusion

Female duet photography: Joel Chester Fildes
Male duet photography: Brian Slater

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