Sophie Laplane – Choreographer and Dancer, Scottish Ballet

Sophie Laplane.<br />© Christina Riley. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane.
© Christina Riley. (Click image for larger version)

Sophie Leplane biog

Scottish Ballet‘s Elsa Canasta & Motion of Displacement bill by Javier de Frutos and Bryan Arias, togther with Sophie Laplane‘s Maze, opens on the 24 September in Glasgow and also tours to Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. Full Details.

5 Questions to Sophie Laplane on her latest work for Scottish Ballet

Sophie Laplane is starting to make a choreographic name for herself, first with a much-admired short work at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by other small commissions and now a work – Maze – that is going to tour bigger theatres as an addition to Scottish Ballet’s Javier de Frutos / Bryan Arias double bill. Time to find out more…

Tell us all about Maze – inspiration, music, design, how long it took to create, what you hope we will get from it…

Maze is a project that started with 3 inspiring pieces of music, 4 young, open-minded Scottish Ballet dancers and myself, new to this particular choreographic adventure. Before I even started working on the choreography I had an image on my mind of 2 male dancers, one of whom was blindfolded, and I went from there to participate in the Draft Works programme at the Linbury Studio in London in May of this year. I had the beginnings of an idea for the male dancers and the contrasted piece for the female dancers. The useful feedback I got inspired me to take the piece further. So from there over the last two months I went on to develop Maze.

Nicholas Shoesmith and Luciana Ravizzi in Sophie Laplane's Oxymore, presented as part of Scottish Ballet's 4 day Dance Odysseys programme at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival.© Andrew Ross. (Click image for larger version)
Nicholas Shoesmith and Luciana Ravizzi in Sophie Laplane’s Oxymore, presented as part of Scottish Ballet’s 4 day Dance Odysseys programme at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival.
© Andrew Ross. (Click image for larger version)

Finding a way to link the different elements and ideas I had was a real puzzle. In fact, there was a sort of parallel process going on between the form and the content: sometimes our creative process felt as though we were in a Maze, hitting dead ends, having to go back and rework moves and at the same time the content of the piece concerned the ‘parcours’ of the four dancers, the willingness of youth to take a step forward into the unknown, trying different experiences and paths to find a way through. Hence the title.

I picked 3 different pieces of music, from the lyrical music of “The Road” from Nick Cave & Warren Ellis to the Minimal House/techno beat of Minilogue’s “Cow, Crickets and Clay” album, “Animals”, to the atmospheric electronic music of “The long walk Home at Midnight” from Xela’s album, Tangled Wool.

In terms of design, I wanted to keep it very simple and sober and to keep the emphasis on the movement.

It’s essentially a light, playful piece about youth and the complexities of growing up. There are moments of tenderness and play. What I hope the audience will get from it is a smile.

Sophie Laplane and Daniel Davidson in Twyla Tharp’s The Fugue.© Andrew Ross. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane and Daniel Davidson in Twyla Tharp’s The Fugue.
© Andrew Ross. (Click image for larger version)

How would you describe you choreographic style?

I would say it’s rather quirky. I like to juxtapose contrasting elements to generate movement, so to the haunting melodic music of “the Road”, danced by 2 male dancers, I mixed robotic, disconnected moves with powerful human emotion. The section with the 2 female dancers uses more animalistic moves, instinctive yet precise and confident, to the upbeat music of Minilogue. In the final section, the four dancers pair up to the music of Xela, through playful, staccato moves, each trying to complete the other, to interlock like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

My style was once described as ‘architectural’. I like to create shapes, to make use of symmetry and for the dancers to complete each other to create an image.

When you go into the studio to create, do you know what you are going to do – do you have nearly all the movement worked out?

I have a few movements I know I want to place and I work with the dancers to integrate them. In the past I used to try and work everything out in advance much more but with a bit more experience I’ve learnt that it’s ok not to know exactly where you’re heading; you don’t have to have a fixed idea about the end result. The creative process can take you in an unexpected direction and that’s what makes it so exciting. I think it’s important that we feed off each other and it’s a two-way process.

A collaboration between Scottish Ballet and Scottish Album of the Year Award-winner Kathryn Joseph; featuring dancer Sophie Laplane performing her original choreography…

So what next – as a choreographer and a dancer?

As a choreographer it’s a great honour for me to have my piece, Maze, on the same bill as Elsa Canasta and Motion of Displacement. It’s the first time I’ve shown my work on a big stage so it’s an exciting new step for me and having begun this journey I hope to keep going, keep creating and develop new projects

As a dancer I’ll be performing in the Autumn season and have been working with Javier de Frutos and Bryan Arias, two incredible choreographers who are very inspiring.

Sophie Laplane in the studio.© Karen Harms. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane in the studio.
© Karen Harms.

We are very lucky in the company to have such a diverse repertoire and great visiting choreographers and I hope to continue learning from each one of them as a performer and as a choreographer.

What is your greatest dance wish?

To move people! In both senses of the word. To continue with the pleasure of creating movement and to move audiences through performance.

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