Ballet Central’s 2017 nationwide tour comes to The Hawth Theatre, Crawley, on Tuesday, June 6 (7.30pm), its first under new artistic director Christopher Marney.
The performers are Central School of Ballet’s graduate performing company, and Christopher is delighted to be in charge.
“I started last summer, so this is my inaugural year, my first year of students, which is wonderful. I knew the school very well.
“I trained there, and I have been back in the past six or seven years choreographing things, but this is the first time I am taking them on the road.
“I trained there in the late ’90s, and the difference was that they were training dancers for the industry. They were training dancers to be actors and not just technicians, and at that time that was quite unique, that emphasis not just on technique but also on being a performer.
“In the climate now, dancers are asked to do everything, not just ballet, not just contemporary. They have to embody all the techniques and also character work. If you look at ballet companies now, the mixture of repertoire is much more diverse than 20 years ago when I was training. It is hard to find a ballet company now that only does ballet. They are very much influenced by the modern choreographers. It means that dancers have to push their bodies much more to the extremes, and I think that is brilliant. The companies still perform the classical ballets, but they are also pushing themselves and pushing the boundaries and pushing their dancers, doing new works and also trying to find new ways to recreate the classics.”
And that’s the world Christopher is preparing his students for.
“I had had a long association with the school, and the job came up. There was space for a new artistic director, and they approached me about coming in. At the time, about a year and a half ago, I knew I was stopping my performing career. It was a question of finding the right way to transition to something else, and this was the perfect thing for me. I love curating a programme of dance and also working with young dancers.
“It is so different for everyone, but I always felt from being a student, that dancing was not going to be my only career, and I found that really exciting. It is daunting for a lot of people. They dance from the age of three or four, and it is all they can imagine doing. But you have to think beyond.”
An artistic director is often a former dancer: “I feel that it means I can give the right advice to people going into the profession that I have just left. I feel able to give them current and correct advice because I have so recently done it myself. I have been so used to touring over the past 20 years, and for the school, that’s what the third year is about, getting ready for the professional touring circuit. I think the best advice is to remain as open-minded as you can be about yourself as a dancer. You don’t want to think that you are only a contemporary dancer or only a ballet dancer. You don’t want to be limiting yourself in that way. If you are a well-rounded performer, then the offers will come in.”
The repertoire for this year’s tour features Act 2 of Highland Fling by Matthew Bourne, Indigo Children by Royal Ballet artist-in-residence Liam Scarlett, and a new version of the ballroom scene from Romeo & Juliet by former English National Ballet’s Jenna Lee.
It also includes specially created works by Christopher Bruce and Malgorzata Dzierzon, as well as excerpts from Petipa’s La Bayadere. The tour will also feature a scene from Dracula, choreographed by Michael Pink from the original production directed by Christopher Gable in 1996.
Tickets cost £15 (discount £13. Call the box office on 01293 553636 or visit www.hawth.co.uk.
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