Nikki Rummer © Camilla Greenwell

An interview with Nikki Rummer on her “Unbroken” performance.

On 31 May and 1 June Absolutely Cultured is proud to be presenting An Evening of Physical Performance in partnership with the University of Hull.

In anticipation of the double bill event with Kristin McGuire, Nikki Rummer shares some of the insights and intricacies of her show “Unbroken”. 


Tell us a little about you. How did you get into performing?

I first started gymnastics when I was 5.  My mum wanted me to go because I had been trying to do handstands against the wall of our sitting room.  I absolutely loved my gymnastics classes.  I felt like I had found my home.  This was in the town where I was born, Kent, Washington – near Seattle in the USA.

Performing was the next logical step, but it took me 30 years to figure that out.  I was working in an office, at a charity, in the fundraising department, when I was offered a contract for a touring production with the British company Square Peg.  I’ve been performing and creating ever since.


What would you say is your style or genre?

I am excited by movement that is unexpected, which feels raw somehow and honest, where you can see the person peeking out from it.  There’s a perfectionist in me that wants to have textbook technique for everything from a backflip to a plie, but if I’m honest I am more drawn to the performers who share something human in their movement.  I think this also allows emotion to be shared, and where story-telling and movement come together.


What is your show, Unbroken, about?

The show starts with a family gathering, of my family, at Christmas in 2001.  What begins as a routine family get-together soon reveals itself as a gathering around a dying man and a space in which secrets are laid bare.  It’s a story of acceptance, loss, rage and love.


Who did you collaborate with to make the show and why?

The narrative of the story was structured with and by Ben Duke, director of Lost Dog Dance.  He is an amazing artist, with a unique and instinctual talent for creating narrative using both words and movement.  I also worked with dramaturg, Jim Manganello, to hone and polish all aspects of the show.  The choreography was made in close collaboration with Steph McMann, who brings an incredible practice in finding the exceptional in the everyday way of moving as well as discovering the odd, the explosive, the curious.  She is a master of stillness and her stillness is packed with personality.  The choreography was also created with Temitope Ajose-Cutting, who helped me to feel ok about being big and brash and loud.  My sound designer, Alberto Ruiz-Soler, was present in the studio to create a whole world with sound, to experiment and to show me that sound could be so much more than a series of tracks to dance to.


Can you say more about the music you’ve used in the work?

Much of the sound was created from the skilful hands and mind of Alberto Ruiz-Soler.


What do you enjoy most about performing Unbroken?

I enjoy filling a stage with my family.  It’s not every day that we get to have an audience to our tales of family drama.  It’s a pleasure to use humour in this piece, to feel the audience respond, and to dance myself into exhaustion by the end.


Is there anything I need to know before coming to see the show?

This is a show that delicately balances the brutal themes of domestic and sexual abuse with the love and care of a family that wants to come to terms with its past.