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5 Questions for Liam Scarlett – catching up on new commissions, including BalletBoyz, Miami City Ballet and the new job…
You have been working on a new piece for BalletBoyz ‘The Talent 2013’ tour – do tell all…
The piece is called Serpent with all my work I love to have a sense of complete fluidity, the body being as supple and as beautiful as possible, so working with a contemporary company for the first time and one with dancers of such diverse talents and backgrounds, I still wanted this to be the case. The title came about from how I attempted to describe to the Boyz how I wanted the movement language to develop. For them not to think of isolating limbs but to think of the body a whole, with an epicentre to all movement and a dissipation from that point. This unified articulation was very reminiscent of a snake or serpent. I have such a phobia of them in real life, but they do have a certain masculine beauty to them and with this beauty comes an underlying poison or deadly quality that juxtaposes the serenity on top. All of this I wanted to put into the work. It was a real learning curve for me, working in a new way with new techniques and ideas. But something I will take with me into my classical work as well now.
As hands-on directors have the BalletBoyz been chipping in thoughts around the new piece or have you just had a free hand in it all?
Michael and Billy really have cultivated a fantastic company; every single member of The Talent has something unique, special and different to bring to the table. And for any choreographer it’s like being in a playground; the inspiration and ideas are endless; there is just so much to bounce off and work with. Coming from a classical background themselves I think they really understood my language and were very keen to chip in and correct the Boyz whenever they felt the need to. But for the majority they just let me do my thing. I think any Director keeps a fairly close eye on what a choreographer is up to in the studio though – just in case!
The BB company is an interesting mix of young contemporary and ballet-trained dancers – how’s it been, exploiting such a different set of dancers from those you normally create on?
I never premeditate or plan any steps or work before I go into the studio, regardless of which company I am working for or what dancers I have in front of me. I really do get the inspiration on the spot from the people stood in front of me. With the Boyz having such varied backgrounds and training and personalties, it was great fun exploiting them for who they were. While there are some unison parts that I really weaned to be together as a unit, I loved the solos or duet work where I cold really get a sense of who that dancer was as a person as well as an artist. The wonderful thing about them all is that they are so intelligent; creating the piece was really an informed conversation with all of them.
Just two weeks ago you had a world premiere of your new ‘Euphotic’ at Miami City Ballet – how did it go, a success? And how do you find American dancers compared to those in London?
The premiere of Euphotic with Miami City Ballet went better than I could have imagined. The audiences seemed to really like it; it was the second piece I had created for this company, and it was definitely a richer experience having worked with them before. Obviously the piece is polar opposites from Serpent; it’s for a classical company of 28 Dancers led by three Principal Women. It was also the first time that I had designed both the sets and the costumes for my work. The dancers there are wonderful; they have an energy and an attack that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, in particular Jeanette Delgado, one of the principals, is a favourite of mine to work with.
Just given up dancing and become the Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence – early days but how do you find the change and what have you got coming up at Covent Garden and elsewhere?
It was such an honour when they appointed me Artist in Residence at The Royal Ballet. Having trained and grown up there as a dancer it was amazing to still stay associated with the House and the Company. I haven’t really had any time to think about the fact that I have stopped dancing; it was definitely the right decision though and gives me the time to really focus on new creations and other projects with The Royal Ballet and other companies world-wide.