On the 23rd of January 2012 Matthew Bourne came to my university to participate in a masterclass.
I attend Liverpool institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and we are very lucky to have some very respectable names from the industry come in to talk to the students and be interviewed.
This masterclass was quite special to me as I have always loved Matthew Bourne’s work, have seen several of his shows and for my university interview process I had to write about a performance I had seen, I wrote about Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.
Matthew seemed very relaxed in the interview and spoke very calmly. He started off by telling us about his background, how he had started dancing late on, created his own dance school at 18 and at the age of 23 went to the Laban Dance School. After completely his three-year degree, he chose to complete a fourth year in a project called ‘Transitions’ which was a touring dance company, doing this inspired him to create his own company. Something I didn’t know is that Matthew Bourne actually performed in his company for the first 10 years before becoming the Choreographer/ Director he is now.
Matthew explained how his company became established using funding from the Arts Council and said “Dance should be more about theatre”. he said that there should be “some humour, some heart and some narrative” in dance.
My principal asked Matthew how the name of the original company came about and Matthew laughed. The original company was called ‘Adventures in Motion Pictures‘, Matthew went on to tell us that most people believe it is because he is heavily influenced by movies, but in fact he found the name on the back of a packet of headphones on the plane and he thought it represented his company well. Something that I found most interesting was Matthew said that most people don’t like the word dance in the company title as it puts people off and the word ballet is even more taboo. So he named his company without these words to gain a wider audience and surprise people a little.
This is something that shocked me, as I am automatically drawn to things that contain the words dance or ballet but then I am a ballet geek. Clearly there has to be some element of truth in what he said as his productions are gaining mass audiences near and far. Definitely something interesting to think about from a marketing prospective.
In 1991 Matthew became the Sole Director of the company and decided to go in a new direction with just 6 members, this company became ‘New Adventures’ as it is known today.
Here is a list of more interesting facts that I learnt:
- The first full length piece Matthew Bourne choreographed was called ‘Town and Country’ which he is hoping to bring back for the 25th anniversary.
- Opera North commissioned his version of ‘Swan Lake’.
- Matthew Bourne likes choreographing traditional ballets as it gives him a set structure and narrative to work to.
- “Quirky is important”
- Matthew Bourne said “lighting designers are often undervalued” He went on to stress the importance of design and set to any production.
- Further to this, he said that he works closely with costume as the costumes can effect his choreography especially on productions such as ‘Swan Lake’ .
- He is currently working on ‘Sleeping Beauty’, which will be out later this year!
During Q&A, Matthew was asked what he looks for when auditioning dancers and he responded by saying that he likes dancers that are “individual” and who are “ready to tell a story” and that “want to give”. He expressed a passion for drama and said that all his performers have to be dancers but they have to be storytellers as well.
Matthew Bourne finished the talk by saying “surprising people is really important”
we watched a few clips from his productions, here are a couple of them:
The Nutcracker is currently touring the UK with the following dates:
Thu 26th Jan 2012 to Sat 28th Jan 2012
Tue 31st Jan 2012 to Sat 4th Feb 2012
New Victoria Theatre (Woking)
Tue 7th Feb 2012 to Sat 11th Feb 2012
Tue 14th Feb 2012 to Sat 18th Feb 2012
Milton Keynes Theatre (Milton Keynes)
Tue 21st Feb 2012 to Sat 25th Feb 2012
The King’s Theatre (Glasgow)
Tue 13th Mar 2012 to Sat 17th Mar 2012
New Wimbledon Theatre (Wimbledon)
Tue 20th Mar 2012 to Sat 24th Mar 2012
The Lowry (Salford)
Tue 10th Apr 2012 to Sat 14th Apr 2012
New Theatre (Oxford)
Tue 17th Apr 2012 to Sat 21st Apr 2012