Scottish Ballet‘s Autumn 2016 double bill comprises Crystal Pite‘s Emergence and Sophie Laplane‘s Sibilo. Full details including performance dates in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen.
5 Questions to Sophie Laplane on her latest work for Scottish Ballet
After the success of last year’s Maze, a surprise inclusion in the 2015 Autumn tour and much admired in reviews, Scottish Ballet’s Sophie Laplane received her first main stage commission from the company. Laplane’s new work will be part of a double bill featuring Crystal Pite’s Emergence and opens in Glasgow this week – on the 29 September 2016. We just caught up with Sophie to find out all about it.
Your first main stage commission is called ‘Sibilo‘ – why? And do tell us all about it….
When Christopher Hampson commissioned my first one-act piece I had a blank page to create from and found myself questioning what it is I like when I go to see a performance. I like to be inspired, to be moved, to be surprised, and to have fun. So I knew I wanted all those ingredients in my piece.
I like many different types of music, from contemporary electronica right back to tracks from the 1950’s. The puzzle was how to bring together all the ingredients I enjoy in a performance and my taste in music into one thirty-minute piece.
I’m also really inspired by human nature – human emotions, their individuality and quirks, how they deal with and respond to situations and so on. Human nature is fascinating.
Christopher Hampson held a workshop a while ago where the task was to create a silent piece. I put together a duet based on two dancers in the company who had quirky and fun personalities. Sometime later, I randomly came across a Fred Lowery track called ‘Whistleitis’ which is essentially a whistling song which immediately made me think about this duet. I watched the video I had filmed of the duet whilst playing the track at the same time and it fitted perfectly. It occurred to me that whistling in all its simplicity is both a sound and an expression that connects so many different types of music. Whistling is also a very human way of being musical.
Whistling seemed like a really interesting tool I could use to create a journey where so many different elements had to come together – ‘Sibilo’ means ‘whistling’ in Latin, so it felt like the perfect title for the piece.
That’s all I can really tell you, without spoiling a few surprises!
‘Sibilo’ has custom music from producer/composer Alex Menzies (also known as Alex Smoke). What’s it like working with someone who is not a dancer? How has the process been going?
From a creative point of view, it’s been an interesting and refreshing process. This is the first time I’ve worked directly with a composer and it has made me much more aware of the different way a choreographer and composer think. In that respect it has been very nourishing.
During meetings with Alex I had to find a way to translate what I was imagining visually into music. It could be the general feel of certain sections or a specific moment that had to be emphasised, and whilst my musical vocabulary is quite limited I felt that Alex’s patience with me and involvement in the piece allowed us to create something that felt right for ‘Sibilo’.
Do you ever go back and edit steps once created? And do you ever lose your temper in the studio.
I feel the creative process with choreography never really ends, so there’s a continual drive to question what works and what doesn’t and to tweak or improve certain aspects of the piece. I think this is an important part of the process because it keeps the creation aspect alive. I also like adapting to different dancers and their personalities so it keeps the whole thing fresh, and more personalised.
Lose my temper? Hahaha… no! I try not to – I still need to dance with them! That said, it’s the first time I’ve worked with eight dancers so maintaining their concentration and focus was sometimes a little challenging. Again its part of my learning curve in choreography.
Who are your choreographic heroes (besides present management, obviously!) And where and when did it first strike you that you were a choreographer.
I feel there are so many talented and inspiring choreographers out there but the most obvious person who comes to mind is Crystal Pite, who I feel privileged to share the Autumn programme with as a choreographer and also to experience as a dancer. I find her and her work fascinating.
I feel as though the commission of ‘Sibilo’ was the first moment where I’ve stepped with both feet into the world of choreography. It’s the first time I’ve seen my name on a poster!
Who knows what the future holds? I would like to continue creating and sharing my work with both dancers and audiences alike. That would be what I wish for.