Nina Simone and the music of Goat
Yshani Perinpanayagam, Music Director for Goat, on the brilliance of Nina Simone and how it feels to perform her music
“I am on the train up to London. I am about to start making a piece for Rambert Dance Company… I thought of Nina Simone. Not because our situations are comparable (they’re definitely not), but because she said that an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.”
– Ben Duke, choreographer of Goat
The complexity of Nina Simone‘s sound defies categorisation. The breadth of her music ranged from jazz standards to musicals, from folk to pop, all accompanied by her fiercely trained classical fingers. Drawing on these vast and varied influences, she became known for her genre-bending piano improvisations, such as the extreme and extraordinary examples that feature in Feelings from her 1976 Montreux set.
However, it was more than Simone’s obvious technical prowess which hooked audiences. Simone’s life was turbulent to say the least; she was navigating a violent marriage, racial inequality and possible bipolar disorder. The unashamed rawness with which she presented herself on stage offered her audience a glimpse of the mysterious, vulnerable and dangerous woman behind the music.
Knowing what we do now about Nina Simone’s incredible journey, it is hardly surprising that she hated being compared to any other performer. Her sound was an intensely personal and often painful account of her very self, as an artist and as a woman.
The arrangements used in Goat aim to represent the original Nina Simone versions as truthfully as possible – some are close to direct transcriptions.
I have to say Rambert always manages to bring me to tears. A piece called ‘goat’ using jazz singer (Emma smith onstage with drums, guitar and piano) and songs of Nina Simone finished me off , especially ultra slow tear jerking version of ‘feelings’. I am a very moved lady…..
— Claire Sisterson (@CowellClaire) February 10, 2018
The sense that Nina Simone really wrote herself into her arrangements makes performing them feel at once deeply intimate and infinitely intimidating. It leaves you determined to convey your own personal truth through her music, smearing each song fearlessly with every secret you carry, every imperfection and every pain. To buff it into fakery would be an unforgivable offence.
Find your nearest upcoming performance of Goat here
Listen to our playlist
The original Nina Simone recordings of the music featured in Goat
Rambert wins FEDORA - VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize 2019 for Invisible Cities
We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded…
Announcing Rambert 2019/20
Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer unveils Rambert’s 2019 /20 season.Highlights…
Summer at Rambert
Join Rambert this summer for courses and intensives for all…
Experiencing Dance for Parkinson's at Rambert
Dannii Hambrook is Learning and Participation Assistant at Rambert and…
New dancers joining Rambert
We are pleased to welcome Guillaume Quéau, Joaquim de Santana…
Five years in our home on London's South Bank
On our fifth anniversary of being in Rambert's bespoke building,…
World Premiere: Rambert, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Leo Warner, Lolita Chakrabarti and 59 Productions at Manchester International Festival
Rambert is collaborating with choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Director Leo…
Getting the Rambert Experience
Ever wanted to know what it's like to be a…
Watch our performance on The Greatest Dancer
Watch Rambert's special guest performance with singer Freya Ridings on…
Rambert appoints Dame Sue Street as new Chair
We are delighted to announce that Dame Sue Street has…