FAQs

Your FAQs

You’re now known as a very musical choreographer, but you spent a lot of your early years choreographing to silence and vocal phrasing. Why did you decide to develop your work and begin working closely with music?

Audience member at A Feeling for Practice, 2011

 

I worked in silence when I was beginning to work out what my movement vocabulary was.  Music has always been important to me, but for around ten years I didn’t feel ready to use it with respect.  In New York a lot of the pieces I saw were in silence and when I began to see artists who had worked with silence start to work with music, I saw this could open the work up further. I decided the relationship between music and choreography is important and to focus on finding the rhythm.
 

How do you select the music you use for your pieces?
 

I’ve used a really wide range of music over my career and have always selected pieces that I connect with. If I enjoy the music and feel inspired then I hope the audience will too!

 

How do you think the way you use music has changed?

Audience member at Sadler's Wells Lecture Demonstration 2012

 

For the first twelve years that I was creating dance, I didn’t really use music other than as a background. Then in 1980, I joined Rambert and began to work with their ensemble of musicians. I absolutely love the potential for complexity in dance, and phrasing movement intelligently, sympathetically to music makes it more legible, easier to grasp. Since then, that concern has become more and more important to me. But I have no theories about how to do it- it should be something fresh each time.
 

How do you think your choreographic process has evolved?

Audience member at Sadler's Wells Lecture Demonstration 2012

 

I’m very instinctive, always trying to be spontaneous and fresh so I never think about my process or try to analyse it. I prepare music very thoroughly but never, ever prepare steps. They come out in the studio with the dancers. I’ve always done that. Mind you, I always make  the movement, never ask the dancers to do it for me.

 

How do you work with your dancers in the studio when creating a new piece?

Audience member at Sadler’s Wells Lecture Demonstration, 2010

 

Before I go into the studio, I listen to the music until I feel it’s right inside me somewhere. Then I decide to start with a couple of dancers and we go into the studio. I show them something roughly, they do it and I built on what they do. I don’t set tasks or ask the dancers to make up choreography but I do involve them in the process by experimenting and picking up on how the dancers perform the movement.
 
The company and I recently filmed the creation of some new material, to show how we worked together, visit the Creation section of this website to see the films.
 

How long does it take to put together a piece?

Audience member at Sadler’s Wells Lecture Demonstration, 2010
 

It varies as sometimes I have more times than others. Six weeks is a great amount of time but sometimes I only have three to four weeks- it can be quite exciting when you are working to a tight deadline!
 

Who or what are your greatest influences?

Audience member at Sadler's Wells Lecture Demonstration 2012

 

1. Frederick Ashton for his musical, lyrical flowing movement, his beautiful use of the back (flowing into shoulders and arms) and quick detailed footwork- all things I love.
2. Merce Cunningham for his clear full movement, sharp changes of direction, rapid moves through space, extraordinary energy and clarity. He was a brilliant, brilliant teacher.
3. George Balanchine for his fast flying energy in space, and musical, musical musical. I appreciate him more and more as I get older.
4. Fred Astaire was light elegant rhythmical,quirky (he danced just as he walked with a sort of shambling rolling gate). His partnering was totally sublime.
5. Auguste Bournonville for his beautiful, small fast steps. His choreography provides gracious generous dancing and a wonderful humanity.
6. Twyla Tharp, her earlier work was slithery and wriggling, complex structures  disguised by a laid back cool. Dances such as The Bix Pieces and Cacklin’ Hen were a huge inspiration to me.
7. Margot Fonteyn, the most extraordinary dancer I ever saw; articulate, coordinated movement, impeccable musicality and a warm generous persona on stage. I have never forgotten her.

 

Where are you going next on tour?

You can check the company’s current tour route, as well as see where we have been in the past by viewing the tour map.
 

How can I engage further with the company?

Visit the Latest News section of this website, go to our Facebook page (link below) or send us a question!
 

Are any of your pieces available on DVD?
 

The company has filmed Overdrive, Gypsy Mixture and Nigredo as well as a lecture demonstration delivered at Sadler's Wells with a performance of Movements from Petrushka and a studio lecture with extracts from Light Flooding Into Darkened Rooms, Brisk Singing, and Okho. DVDs are available from the education section of the company's website here.