Recently I had a meeting with the head of Social Media Marketing at Stadttheatre Bern with whom I am dancing with Bern Ballet as an apprentice. We where discussing work on the forthcoming work Lions, Tigers & Women to be choreographed by Bern Ballet Director and Choreographer Cathy Marston.
The piece is about a woman from Bern called Vivienne Von Wattenwyl who travelled extensively throughout Africa with her Father Bernard in the early 1920’s on hunting exhibitions. Vivienne wrote a book about the whole experience and I went to see the collection of animals they brought back from Africa at Bern’s Natural History Museum which I found very interesting and extremely well presented.
A lot happened during the trips Vivenne and her Father made to Africa and there is a particular story from one of the adventures where Vivenne is caught up top of a mountain top in a fire storm and has to fight it off that we are focusing on for the choreography.
During the trip 19 Lions where killed and the 19th Lion was not properly killed, as it in turn killed her Father. The skull from this Lion is in the Natural History Museum of Bern with the words around it:
“Bernard Von Wattenwyl Killed This Lion : This Lion Killed Bernard Von Wattenwyl”
I will be blogging about the creation process with Cathy and taking photographs from the rehearsal period that I will share here and on the Stadttheatre website, links will appear in due course. I will also be blogging about our Tour of Switzerland and writing about all the experiences from that.
Parallel to what I’m doing, the Theatre will be blogging about Vivienne’s adventures in Africa and building up the story to it’s climax, to coincide with the Premiere.
I’ve been given access to a rarely seen archive of black and white photographs from the 1922-24 expedition which Vivienne went on to complete without her father after he died from infections from his encounter with the 19th Lion. There are some real gems in there and it’s incredible to see them being so well preserved and looked after by what is clearly a proud curator at the museum.
Vivienne Von Wattenwyl