Into the Hoods: Remixed hits our stage next month. Ahead of the show coming to Manchester we talk to Kate Prince, ZooNation’s Artistic Director, about how she got into the world of dance…
HOME: How old were you when you first started dancing?
Kate: Like many little girls, I think I was taken to my first ballet class when I was about four.
HOME: Who inspired you to dance?
Kate: Don’t know really. I just caught the ‘dance bug’ from the first time I went. In later life though, it was definitely Janet Jackson!
HOME: What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Kate: Go and get my one-year-old daughter out of bed.
HOME: What has been your proudest ZooNation moment to date?
Kate: Dancing for and meeting Nelson Mandela for his 90th birthday celebrations.
HOME: You reinvented the 2008 production Into the Hoods as Into the Hoods: Remixed last year. Would you like to bring back other works like Some Like it Hip Hop?
Kate: Absolutely Yes! I have so much love for Some Like it Hip Hop… watch this space.
HOME: Do you find audiences on tour different to London audiences?
Kate: Yes. And I think London audiences can also differ from each other too depending on what venue you are playing. For example, the Stratford Circus audience in East London is very different to the Linbury Studio audience at the Royal Opera House. Even at Sadler’s Wells, the audiences can be different depending on whether we are in the Peacock or in the main house. Sometimes audiences on tour need a little more encouragement to be vocal with their support… and sometimes they can be very loud and clap along in time to every song. It just depends. Every city is different. Every performance is different. My favourite audiences though are when we have coach loads of school children and teenagers in. They can be very very loud, and we love that.
HOME: What is the best thing about taking shows on tour in the UK?
Kate: Inspiring more young people to dance, or perform, or make music, or be a set designer. Getting more young people into the theatre. Making theatre and dance accessible to the next generation. Theatre will die out altogether if we don’t actively engage young people and create work that speaks to them.
HOME: Have you any plans to tour internationally?
Kate: Absolutely yes. We’ve had many plans for many years in the pipeline but we haven’t quite found the right venue and right project yet. It’s very expensive to take work overseas and with hip hop dance theatre still being relatively in its infancy, there isn’t a great deal of precedent out there showing venues that it will succeed. I hope before long now that it will change. We have our hearts set on New York and Sydney, so fingers crossed.
HOME: What was the first fairytale you heard as a child?
Kate: I’m not sure I can accurately remember but the children’s books I most remember were Dr Zeuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, the poems of Captain Beaky, many of which I can still recite by heart, and also a book called Fattypuffs & Thinnifers. It is probably completely politically incorrect these days but as a kid in the ’80s, I loved it!
HOME: If you could be any fairytale character who would you be?
Kate: Probably Spinderella… I wish I could DJ and I’ve always been more of a tomboy than a girly girl. I wouldn’t mind a 60-minute makeover from Fairy G though.
HOME: If you could have one wish from Fairy G what would it be?
Kate: Ha! To make me look good in something other than trainers… although she (Annie Edwards) could teach me a lot about rhythm, musicality and dance too!
HOME: You’ve worked across theatre and film, which form to do find more challenging?
Kate: My heart definitely belongs to theatre. I have done a lot of work in TV and film, but I find it really difficult as ultimately I don’t get to edit my own work, or choose the camera angles. I have no say over what hits the cutting room floor! In theatre, particularly with ZooNation, I get to create the work that I really want to do. Theatre gives you so much freedom. We don’t have to concern ourselves with TV audience ratings, or movie box office sales…
HOME: You do a lot of work with schools and students do you see dance styles and musical interests changing for new generations?
Kate: Absolutely. Always has and always will. Every generation will create something new and that’s the way it should be. I learn so much from the young people I work with.
HOME: What is your favourite tune to let loose to?
Kate: There are too many to mention but at the moment I’m really enjoying listening to all my old Erykah Badu albums…
HOME: What is the one thing you can’t live without?
HOME: How many people make up the ZooNation team?
Kate: Too many to mention. If I start to name them all I will inevitably leave someone out which would be unforgivable… but it’s a very large group of people on and off stage. It can be quite a thankless job being behind the scenes of a production but they are a brilliant, passionate, committed, diligent team…very proud of them all.
HOME: What is the next step for ZooNation?
Kate: I’ve just been made an Associate Artist at the Old Vic in London and we are starting to write a new piece of work this year which will be opening in 2018. Alongside that, there are several revivals of work in the pipeline… so again, watch this space!
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