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Tag Archives: Sea of Troubles

Looking back on the last day of 2017… This site has been very quiet this year; but even if artistic production and performance has been less in evidence there has been significant BiSS activity of other sorts, both study and teaching…

Having formally presented to the Roehampton dance research community in November 2016, in the New Year I submitted an initial chapter and a summary plan of my dissertation for examination by my Director of Studies Emilyn Claid, supervisor Geraldine Morris and Internal Examiner dance philosopher Anna Pakes. A viva on these submissions in May happily confirmed my upgrade in the PhD progress; the green light to go ahead and write. Read More

Looking back on the review of 2015, 2016 didn’t work out quite as expected – but in a year of global upheaval that is perhaps hardly surprising…

Following on from Two old instruments, an amazing opportunity had presented itself in December 2015 to work with Baroque musician Evelyn Nallen on a recreation of what could claim to be the first dramatic ballet in which a story was told without recourse to words, but through dance and mimetic gesture. John Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus was premiered on 2nd March 1717 at Drury Lane.   His original scenario survives, and Evelyn and dance historian Moira Goff had used it as a base to put together a score of suitable period music; the idea to recreate the work incorporating some authentic dance material of the period but to reset ensembles and the gestural scenes, which Weaver had originally “attempted in imitation of the Pantomimes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans”.   This fascinating project was set to be unveiled on the 300th Anniversary in a truly period magnificent setting with a team of 14 dancers, 7 musicians and an actress. Unfortunately despite our best efforts and heavyweight support from some big names including Dr Richard Ralph, Weaver’s biographer, we were unable to raise sufficient funds; and ultimately lost our venue through factors beyond our control. The project has now morphed into an intimate play with music and authentic dance “Mr Weaver’s Dramatick Entertainment”, but I am sadly no longer involved. I will however keep you posted of performances of what should be a very enjoyable celebration of a truly notable date in the history of ballet. Read More

Rehearsing Sea of Troubles with Yorke Dance Project at the Place 22/02/16 -photo by Yolande Yorke-Edgell

Rehearsing Sea of Troubles with Yorke Dance Project at the Place 22/02/16 -photo by Yolande Yorke-Edgell

The last two Sundays I have spent at The Place in London rehearsing Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet Sea of Troubles. This innovative late work was made in 1988 for the independent ballet company Dance Advance, led by Michael Batchelor, Jennifer Jackson, Sheila Styles and myself. As aspiring choreographers we broke away from the Royal Ballet companies to make new ballet based work, using 20th century and live music, performing in a range of smaller, more intimate venues round the country, reaching new audiences. For our first programme we asked MacMillan if he would make something for us; he responded with an experimental take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, designed by Deborah MacMillan, and set to chamber music by Webern and Martinu played live in performance by the ensemble Quorum. We toured extensively in southern, south-eastern and eastern regions of the UK, culminating in two performances in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank. The piece later toured to Madrid, the Canary Isles, Bonn and China, and a short documentary was made about it by Anglia Television, featuring interview with MacMillan and extracts performed by the original cast: Michael Batchelor, Susie Crow, Jennifer Jackson, Russell Maliphant, Stephen Sheriff and Sheila Styles. Sea of Troubles subsequently entered the repertoire of Scottish Ballet and was also performed by an ensemble led by Adam Cooper.

Sea of Troubles is now being revived by Yorke Dance Project as part of their new programme Inspirit (also featuring works by Robert Cohan, Yolande Yorke-Edgell and Charlotte Edmonds), which will be previewed at the Clore Studio at the Royal Opera House on 11th March, and will tour in autumn 2016. MacMillan’s barefoot work, which the choreographer intended as a fusion of ballet and contemporary dance, has been taught from the original Benesh notation taken at the time of creation by notator Jane Elliott. I have been drawing on my embodied memory to inform and rehearse an exciting cast who are developing powerful new interpretations.  Wonderful to see this dramatic work, its fractured narrative full of insight and memorable imagery, coming alive once again. Here are some photos taken of the rehearsal process by Yolande Yorke-Edgell.

Looking at the original Dance Advance programme...

Looking at the original Dance Advance programme…

You can find out more about Sea of Troubles and MacMillan’s work here

And about Yorke Dance Project’s programme and activities here.

Dance Advance archival material can be accessed through the National Resource Centre for Dance at University of Surrey.

Coaching Amy Thake

Coaching Amy Thake