5 Questions to Sophie Laplane – a Scottish Ballet Artist in Residence – about her new work, Dextera

Sophie Laplane.<br />© Eve McConnachie. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane.
© Eve McConnachie. (Click image for larger version)

Scottish Ballet’s Spring! double bill presents Laplane’s new Dextera along with MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations​full details

Sophie Laplane, former company dancer, is now a Scottish Ballet Artist in Residence and her first main stage commission opens the companies 2019 season in Inverness on the 28 March, before touring to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. 2019 is a special season for the company…

Congratulations! Scottish Ballet’s 50 Anniversary celebrations opens with the premiere of your new work – Dextera – tell us all about it and where the inspiration came from? It’s to Mozart we hear…

When I think of Scottish Ballet the first thing that comes to mind is ‘creativity’ so I wanted to create a piece that celebrates the company’s incredible inventiveness and creative output as part of their 50th anniversary. I like to explore themes through ‘vignettes’ or short sections and so the link, or thread, in Dextera is to focus on the hands as a way of exploring the creative output of them.

Sophie Laplane and Anna Williams in <I>Dextera</I> rehearsal.<br />© Rimbaud Patron. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane and Anna Williams in Dextera rehearsal.
© Rimbaud Patron. (Click image for larger version)

Part of the commission was also to work with the Scottish Ballet Orchestra for the first time to a score by a classical composer. I chose extracts from Mozart as he has always fascinated me and he has such a wide range of different styles and moods that give a choreographer great scope to work with.

How do you choose your dancers for a new work and what are you hoping the audience will see in Dextera?

I wanted this piece to be inclusive and to use as many dancers as possible, so there will be a cast of twenty. I often choose dancers according to how they respond to my vocabulary but I also think personality is important so they can fit with the intentions that I’m aiming for.

For me, it is important that the audience feels they can relate to what they see on stage, and so I like my work to be accessible. I want them to share with the dancers a range of emotions, as they go on a creative and fun journey that celebrates Scottish Ballet.

Claire Souet and Anna Williams in Sophie Laplane's <I>Dextera</I> rehearsal.<br />© Rimbaud Patron. (Click image for larger version)
Claire Souet and Anna Williams in Sophie Laplane’s Dextera rehearsal.
© Rimbaud Patron. (Click image for larger version)

You’ve recently been working with New York City Ballet dancers at the New York Choreographic Institute… what an opportunity, tell more..

As part of the New York Choreographic Institute’s 2018 Fall Session, I worked on a 10 day project re-visiting the notion of Pas de Deux with soloist dancer Megan LeCrone and principal dancer Andrew Veyette from the New York City Ballet, and it was an amazing experience!

What was especially exciting about the project was that it was very much a ‘creative lab’ that emphasised on exploration and exchange of ideas, including input from costume and lighting designers throughout the process.

The professional ease of the dancers, their open-mindedness and their desire to fulfil the vision of the Pas De Deux made rehearsals enriching and productive. I have a specific style and a different dance history from the dancers, but as much as I wanted to get that across, I also wanted to discover and learn from them; how they moved, how they responded and where they would take me.

This made for a very exciting process in which we were all totally invested and the end result, ‘Vis-à-Vis’, is something that will stay with me for a long time.

You are also doing an MA in Choreography at London’s Central School of Ballet – how’s it going and what’s the biggest thing you have learned? 

‘Studying’ dance is a new departure for me – it has given me time to self-reflect, to analyse my work, to see what can be improved and also to try to express and vocalise what my work is ‘about’, which isn’t always easy.

In many ways it has helped me to be more efficient and gain in confidence. I’ve also had the opportunity to run several workshops with the students at Central through the MA and I’m looking forward to presenting my MA showcase with them in June.

How are you finding it, making the transition from full-time dancer to freelance choreographer?  And what’s coming up next?

Christopher Hampson had already given me the opportunity to create two pieces for Scottish Ballet while I was still dancing with the company – Maze and Sibilo. After creating work for the company, it felt like the right time to hang up my pointe shoes and fully invest in a choreographic career, and so I was delighted to be appointed Choreographer (now an Artist) in Residence for Scottish Ballet in 2017.

Sophie Laplane. © Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)
Sophie Laplane.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)

It’s a great privilege having this post as it enables me to stay close to the company, to try out ideas, to continue to evolve and to work on projects, whilst also taking major steps in a freelance capacity.

As for things coming up, I’ve been working with Ballet Black on a new short piece called Click! as part of their Triple Bill that is currently touring; a light-hearted, finger-clicking creation.

In May I’ll also be working on Scottish Ballet’s Digital Season and taking Sibilo to Salt Lake City with Scottish Ballet. I`ll also be graduating from my MA in June, so it’s very busy!

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Claudia Bauer | Foteini Christofilopoulou | Gay Morris | Graham Watts | Heather Desaulniers | Jann Parry | Josephine Leask | Karen Greenspan | Lynette Halewood | Marina Harss | Oksana Khadarina | Siobhan Murphy | Susanna Sloat | Valerie Lawson | Bruce Marriott (Ed)

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