With reviews already coming in for the previews for GRIMM ballet, I must confess I’m super excited to set off to Amsterdam to see the official premiere this Sunday 22 April.
The show is choreographed by Ernst Meisner of Dutch National Ballet and Marco Gerris of ISH. Two very different companies, with very alternative approaches to dance, but remarkably they work together so successfully. I remember when we were producing Narnia together back in 2015 how the creative process was so fluid. A story needed to be told to reflect the CS Lewis book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and each of us took our respective roles precisely and creatively.
We would meet in my studio in London at the time and work, scene by scene, through the day, debating, enthusing and every now and then disagreeing. Then they would return to Amsterdam to begin choreographing the production. As the months passed, costumes would be designed, the set designed and lights and projections created, and then time for the show itself!
Now GRIMM is rather similar in that we have stories to tell that are familiar to most visitors, with Cinderella, seven dwarfs, handsome princes, jealousy, friendship, tyranny and love of course. As ever, the pressure is on me once the script is written, as so frequently with dance the score needs to be written early, before any other creative process, to offer up a structure and architecture for each scene. So, many months before anything else happens on the production I’m in the studio writing music for every scene.
Sometimes I’m able to interpret this immediately and successfully, whilst at other times it’s a series of mails sent back and forth with feedback until I absolutely nail it. It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider this working process. My creative practise is very diverse and I tend to shape-shift between countless projects at the same time. An annual tally of my works is on average about 65 different projects, from large scale ambitious shows and films, through to collaborations with others and sound design for artists films, and so much more. I adapt according to the project, the people, the deadline, and of course, the budget. So time and discipline is absolutely crucial.
Such projects as GRIMM demonstrate a strong sense of trust and understanding between one another. Since we’ve all worked together on productions before we do understand what each other is capable of and how malleable time can be. It’s a strange feeling at the moment as the show has been previewing for a few nights, with Tweets appearing full of enthusiastic responses. So, whilst I sit at home having finished dinner and watching a film in the evening, audiences are giving a standing ovation to the show. My favourite so far has been this incredibly passionate Tweet from Sharon Bartels. And here I am, having only seen the same videos online as the general public!
My Scanner Facebook Page for GRIMM has resembled like a ticket sales company recently, with people desperate to acquire tickets for certain nights. It’s not quite Hamilton but it’s very encouraging! So this weekend I shall sit in the audience, rather nervously, and enjoy the show like every other spectator. Then as the curtains close I shall be ushered towards the side of the stage, rushing on to take a bow with the amazing dancers and the rest of the team, and hopefully collect some beautiful flowers as I exit the stage. There’s always such a joy in these productions, largely seen in the faces afterwards!
For those cannot attend the score will be available online at Bandcamp from 23 April 2018 so you can share in the atmosphere at least. Here’s to many more shows in the future too!