Over 15 years ago, a small boy sat in a theatre in Edinburgh waiting for the curtain to go up. He was on a school trip and there to watch the Rambert dance company.

Fast forward to March 2017 and Daniel Davidson is preparing to perform the very same piece here in Oxford for the very same dance company he once so revered: “To be performing that piece all these years later is very special,” Daniel, now 32 agrees. He’s been with the famous contemporary dance company for two years now, having jumped ship from Scottish Ballet.

Heavily involved in the choreography side, Rambert’s dance trilogy at the New Theatre will also feature pieces Daniel helped craft.

“It’s nice to bring to life and interpret a character on stage you had a hand in creating. It gives me more of a personal attachment to the work – to be involved right from the beginning, as the costumes evolve and the music is composed, watching the bare bones of the dance being fleshed out.

“And while I’ve still got a few years left in me dance wise, through choreography I’m investing in my future and thinking about how to turn those ideas into a piece, how to get a good response.”

His drive, ambition and physicality is palpable, so what motivates Daniel? “I don’t want to please people but I do want to present things and challenge people all the time. And that makes me a better dancer.”

Originally aiming to go into musical theatre, he was spotted auditioning by Scottish Ballet and taken on. Can he sing then? “I can hold a tune,” he laughs, “but it’s been a while.”

So why change from classical ballet to contemporary dance? “I needed a change. I was approaching 30 at the time and wanted to expand my horizons. A dancer’s career is short and I wanted to do something new, something else. It meant I had to move from Glasgow to London which I found it really unsettling.

“You can’t pigeonhole Rambert. I appreciate classical ballet for what it is, but Rambert has such a broad range of interesting pieces, with new creations being introduced and commissioned all the time.

“It’s willing to take chances across a really broad range of contemporary dance, keeping it fresh and vibrant alongside the old classics like Ghost Dance.

“But then Rambert has a vast repertoire so we mix it up at each venue which is always a challenge and keeps us on our toes. It is always rewarding. Every week is different but while we are performing one piece we’d will be rehearsing something quite different for the next week.

So does he have to relearn each piece or is it buried deep down in his subconscious? “It’s buried inside you somewhere, it’s part of you. The dance doesn’t leave your body, it just takes over,” he explains.

Falling in love with dance aged just five he knew instinctively that “it was something I would be good at.”

What was it he loved? “The movement, being expressive. I loved performing the different characters, dressing up as someone else and becoming that person. I loved the immediacy.”

What was it like dancing as a boy in Scotland? “People thought it was unusual, but my parents had taken me to football and I didn’t like it, and I had so much energy they needed an outlet for me, so they took me to the ballet school on the corner.

“But attitudes are changing. I was in a taxi in Glasgow and the taxi driver asked what I did and I was reluctant to tell him that I was a ballet dancer. But he took his son to ballet as well.”

So does Daniel feel nostalgic looking back at that little boy sitting in the darkened theatre waiting for the curtain to go up? “ It’s still really rewarding to perform. Dancing for Rambert and getting a standing ovation still gets me. I can’t quite believe I’m in dancing for them in a piece I helped craft, to be honest.

“But moving to Rambert felt like the first real call I have made concerning my own future!”

Rambert: Ghost Dances and Other Works

March 15-17, New Theatre


0844 8713020