Last week The Royal Ballet took over YouTube with a live stream covering the whole day’s rehearsals, interviews with dancers, choreographers & staff, music collaborations and much more. I was working for most of the day so only managed to catch the last section where Wayne McGregor & Mark Ronson were discussing their latest collaboration on Carbon Life.
When asked about the creative process, specifically what order the different elements of costume, music and movement are decided in, Wayne answered ‘it starts with the music and the dance, then everything else falls into place’.
This struck a chord with me as it’s exactly how I create performance pieces. My initial ideas stem from a piece of music and a few key dance moves which are then developed within a theme and expanded upon. Sometimes there are physical constraints to deal with, perhaps dancers are very young or there might only be one entry/exit point on stage, and these things are all dealt with and solved in due course.
For the summer performance I will be bringing together child and adult dancers in a range of dance styles including Tap, Ballet, Modern, Hip Hop, Cabaret, Street Dance, Bollywood and probably a few more will be added before the piece is finished! The challenges here are to create a performance that shows everyone at their best, has a solid musical coherence and an overall vision of costume, lighting, set design & programme graphics to bring it all together.
Often the first thing a group of dancers will ask is ‘what are we wearing?’ but the truth is that this is one of the last things that’s decided. Costume is incredibly important for setting the tone but it needs to be created after the music & choreography have been set to ensure that all the moves are possible in whatever clothing is selected. There also needs to be balance between all the groups on stage so the performance works as a whole – there’s no point sending one group on stage in simple leotards with t-shirts if another group is wearing custom made tutus, for example – that, for me, is the thing that marks a difference between a performance and a display or recital that is simply a collection of dances one after the other with no relationship between them. It’s dull and rarely entices an audience to come again or get involved.
With the performance booked for Saturday 16th June there’s plenty of time to finalise the smaller details of each dance before meeting with our costume designer who is an expert at creating the perfect pieces for our dancers to wear. Although, with 30 years practice under her belt it’s no surprise!
Ticket details will be available very soon but in the meantime, keep practicing!