Today I’ve been thinking back to my childhood to the things that inspired me to dance, performances I enjoyed so much I just had to learn how to do it and absorb as much information about the works as I could.
The very first ballet I ever remember going to see was La Fille Mal Gardee, the modern adaptation by Sir Frederick Ashton who staged it for The Royal Ballet in 1960, at Glasgows Theatre Royal by Scottish Ballet – with no idea in just a few years I myself would be performing on the same very stage & learning the same rep at dance school.
I remember my mother taking me to see the show and just enjoying the sheer fun of the performance, to me even now it is essentially a joyful ballet to watch. At The Dance School of Scotland (DSS) where i trained, we where taught ‘The Dance of the Chickens’ from the very same ballet in my third of fourth year by one of our great ballet masters – Mr. Neo who now runs his own school in Holland. I remember having tremendous fun learning the rep & it was a great joy to perform for one of many evening’s of performances we put on for parents,sponsors and friends of the school.
Not too long after I had seen La Fille Mal Gardee, I saw another production from Scottish Ballet, at the time under the directorship of Robert North (Artistic Director 1999-2002), that changed everything for me.
Another nice thing of fate here, Robert North trained at the very same school I was to enrol in over a decade later – London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS), and it was in the very same building, The Place, that he was a founding member of London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT) upon whom he created ‘Troy Game’ in 1974.
I saw this and was so blown away by the athletic grace and agility of the dancers, it is an aesthetic to this day i love to see choreographers bring out in their work – men looking like men. The piece has a great sense of humour to it, mesmerising solo’s, ‘fighting duet’s’ and is a real tour de force of how physically fit and strong male dancers have to be.
There’s a funny story about Troy Game from way back in the beggining:
Robert Cohan, Place Patron & Director of LCDT is said to of said that while the company where on tour the company would offer open classes for free, if there were more men than woman in the class. There where. A V&A Museum curator who looks after a project about the company with many precious original black & white photographs joked that:
“It turned out that, to get out of paying, all the girls had bullied their boyfriends and brothers into going.”
Either way it’s always great to hear about people trying dance who may never of otherwise, it can be such a life changing thing – look what happened to me!