Social Media

Rosy Nevard - Unlocked Interview

Writer: Mark Johnson

Nova Grace Productions presents Unlocked, a contemporary dance performance by 4 professional dancers exploring life in and out of lockdown. It is the development of a unique project beginning in the dancers’ bedrooms during lockdown 2020 and continuing to virtual performances and now to stage. It reflects on the whole “Covid-19” experience and aims to help people talk about what lockdown was for them.

This contemporary dance show invited audiences to see, feel and heal. The show is set to play the Brighton Fringe, in Bath and The Wandsworth Fringe. I sat down with producer Rosy Nevard to discuss the show.

Can you tell me what inspired Unlocked?
The whole project grew very organically out of lockdown. We were simply a group of professional dancers like so many who needed to keep fit during lockdown, and as long as lockdown continued, so we kept creating. Our choreographer Karen Hill was shielding due to long-term illness so in fact working on Zoom enabled her to work safely and have access to dancers she wouldn’t otherwise have been able to work with. In Dec 2020, we gave a virtual performance of what we had of the piece so far and titled it “Lockdown Live”, I had Covid at the time! Then in August 2022, the opportunity came up to adapt it for stage and we teamed up with choreographer Ughetta Pratesi who also had a piece created in lockdown, Kent Youth Dance Company and band Disco Drug Store for a night titled “Life Out Of Lockdown”, just a real celebration of dance and music which had emerged out of lockdown. Following that we realised not only the potential for the piece, but also the need for it. The need for people to be able to talk about their lockdown experiences. We were inspired by people’s stories and as we have embarked on this tour and spoken to audience members and students, I think the inspiration has grown, knowing that we can make a difference to people and that they appreciate the opportunity to open up about their time in lockdown.

How did you approach turning the experience of COVID and the lockdowns into the show you have?
At the start our choreographer Karen had the dancers doing all sorts of crazy and fascinating tasks. Numbering the corners and walls of our rooms 0-9 and then dancing out our phone number, rolling up in duvets, climbing through windows, hanging on doorframes, dancing with brooms, tennis balls, sheets. It was really an exploration of our homes while being aware of inputs from the news or the progression of the pandemic which we wanted to document. As we were arriving at this final version of the show “Unlocked”, we refined the material that we had and focused on what would read well to the audience. What aspects would they relate to and how can we communicate with them. We don’t want it to be too abstract that people don’t get it - we want an audience who might not usually watch dance to be able to understand it. We’ve added a section at the end called ‘Reflections’. We asked a cross section of people for their own reflections on lockdown to inform us and then have included these in the sound-track of the show. It’s very moving.

Photo by Katie Hutch Photography
Naturally, the lockdowns impacted heavily on the dance world but how did you manage to remain creative during that period?
Looking back, I still can’t quite believe how we adapted in that time. I think everyone had to decide whether to just press pause and wait for things to open up again, or to embrace it and adapt. As a director of a dance agency, myself and my co-director Jenny Logan felt responsible for the dancers in our network and as entrepreneurs, we took the decision to look for creative ways to support our fellow dancers. We started fun “Dancercise” sessions led by various dancers, we made a ‘dancers version’ of the toilet roll throw video with a pointe shoe, and we put on a Dance Exchange session with professional dancers in Uganda who taught our dancers Afrobeats choreo and we taught them contemporary. The internet connection was terrible but it was such an amazing opportunity to connect with different dance networks across the world who were all going through the same thing.

In terms of creativity on this project, there were 2 factors I think that played into it. One was that as dancers, it’s intuitive to deal with strange experiences and emotions by dancing. When you don’t know what you’re feeling, you can dance and move and automatically feel better. So we were drawn to creating movement to express how we were feeling. Secondly, we had so much time on our hands. Never again will we have that many spare hours to spend creating a project like this and because of that, the production is filled with so much detail which you won’t necessarily spot if you only see it once.

How have you found the transition period back to in-person work?
Obviously, we are overjoyed to be back working together in person again. We really missed the laughs and banter of the dance studio while we were on screens and the fact that you can sense the other dancers around you in order to keep in sync and feel each other’s energy. It’s how dance is supposed to be in my opinion! But it has been really challenging getting all the dancers in the same place at the same time to rehearse! The dancers and choreographer come from Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Kent, London and Surrey so logistically it was much easier to get together on Zoom! Two of the dancers also have babies now who are on tour with us - the dancing mums are just amazing at juggling parenting with performing but it’s so special to develop the project as our lives develop.

What would you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
We want people to take away a sense of closure on the pandemic. Now that the World Health Organisation has declared an official end to the pandemic (5th May 2023) and the NHS Covid App has been decommissioned (April 27th 2023) it feels like the right moment for reflection on the enormity of what we all went through. We want our audience to laugh at the light hearted moments, like remembering the toilet roll throw challenges, to shed a tear for the true tragedy of it all, but to take away a feeling of peace that we have come so far.

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
I’ll use a description from one of our audience members - “Beautiful, emotive and evocative.”

Unlocked plays at Brighton Fringe on 25th and 26th May, at The Mission Theatre in Bath on 1st and 2nd June and at the National Opera Studio in London as part of the Wandsworth Fringe on 10th and 11th June. Book tickets from

Post a Comment


Theme by STS