A Q&A with Sign Language Interpreter: Angie Newman

At first, the idea of a dance performance that is sign-language interpreted might be an odd concept to get your head around. Dance is such a visual medium, if there is no dialogue what is there left to interpret? Music lies very close to the heart of what we do at Rambert, particularly commissioning new music for dance. It would be difficult to imagine Christopher Bruce’s Rooster without the iconic Rolling Stones tracks or Mark Baldwin’s Dark Arteries without the rousing sounds of a brass band performing Gavin Higgins’ epic score. So it’s the music we want to interpret and reach everyone equally.

We sat down with Rambert’s Sign Language Interpreter Angie Newman, who further explains why signed performances are an integral part of every Rambert tour.

When did you start working with Rambert?

As a musician, deaf and music specialist and a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter, I work regularly with schools, deaf students and many leading national orchestras. I’ve been working with Rambert since 2011.

I have always been committed to making music more accessible to deaf people, my aim is to add to their experience of dance to help the whole audience engage with the full Rambert experience.

Angie Newman © Chris Read

Angie Newman

How do you work with Rambert to interpret performances?

Translating and representing the musical elements of any dance piece is the most challenging aspect of my work. I use some signs from BSL to describe the music, depicting the pitch, the dynamics and mood to create a type of visual narration for the audience.

As dance is so visual, it is ideal for deaf people. Many people enjoy the beat of the music, and as hearing aid technology improves, some can also access elements of the richness of the music beyond just the beat.

What challenges are there to sign language interpreting Rambert’s performances?

The main challenge is to meaningfully convey the musical content of the dance piece. I always try to make my movements and signing as sympathetic and as complimentary to what is happening on stage as possible, without detracting from the dance itself.

You can find out more about Rambert’s Sign Language interpreted performances here

Made by Palace