It is with great sadness that I try to reflect on Nigel Charnock’s impact on Candoco, personally and professionally, as he passed away 1 August 2012.
Since our very first meeting with Nigel Charnock in 2007, as new Artistic Directors, Pedro and I were struck by his generosity, his passion and his clarity.
We wanted to commission him because we loved his work and its daring relation to the audience. We hoped that he would make a work that would allow us to see the dancers as skilled performers as well as relate to them as people.
In three short weeks he created Still; a work that has changed all the dancers’ outlook on improvisation, that created a sense of group that forever stayed with them, that takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, and that we still tour. This piece is loved by both audiences and dancers. We have done almost 50 performances of Still, all over the world. The last show was in Cuba, in the beginning of June this year, and again it received standing ovations – sweaty and passionate, just like Nigel.
Nigel inspired us to challenge ourselves both physically and emotionally, throwing caution over board by setting daily free improvisations that let the dancers choose their own paths, nudged along by Nigel’s utter belief in them. In the studio Nigel was so alive, so involved that we only needed to see him and his energy to be reminded of what we needed to maintain his piece. When listening to the soundtrack, like a jukebox jumping from one genre of music to another, I hear Nigel’s love and knowledge of music, used to maximum effect. Through his work Nigel allowed a sense of humanity, a humor and a sadness, a wildness and an attention to detail. Above all, never to fake it but to make it real.
So many people have been touched by Nigel’s work, not only on stage but also in an educational setting. I remember him speaking with insight, intelligence and conviction about all the ways we could draw on his work to reach students- how his work carried universal themes of individuality, finding identity, belonging, leaving, loving and losing. In his teaching there was also a directness and frankness that broke down boundaries for anyone involved, regardless of previous background and experiences. I am very proud to have his work in our repertory, and to know that his own body of works, which span so many solos and group pieces, has influenced and informed many generations within the dance sector and beyond.
Nigel made Still for us, a piece about love and loss.
Nigel, we love you.
Nigel, we have lost you, but your work and you sprit stays with us and in Candoco’s history forever.
Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado, Co-Artistic Directors