Norman Douglas & Company

Norman Douglas & Company

Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 12 & Sat 13 Jun


Norman Douglas isn’t afraid to do his homework. As part of the research for his new triple-bill, the Glasgow choreographer has been digesting some pretty heavy stuff, including a tome on critical theory. ‘It’s taken me a year to read it,’ laughs Douglas, ‘and it will take me another three years to look up all the big words I’ve circled.’

Douglas has also been spending lengthy periods in Europe, soaking up the artistic style. Put the two together and you’ve got a programme of penetrating contemporary dance. Comprising two solos and a duet, the line-up is linked by one common thread. ‘They’re all about humanity,’ says Douglas. ‘And how we survive and hold on to our humility, with everything that’s going on.’

Opening solo, Say it’s not true, is inspired by the tragic life of French sculptor, Camille Claudel. A former lover of Auguste Rodin, Claudel spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital, seemingly for no reason. ‘It’s not biographical,’ says Douglas. ‘I’m commenting on society at that time and the unfairness of her being locked away for nothing.’ Douglas was also inspired by a trip to Paris, viewing porcelain figures by both Rodin and Claudel. ‘I took some of the choreography from that,’ he explains. ‘And when the dancer goes into those poses, the image appears on a video backdrop, so you can see the original.’

Touching Tongues, performed by Douglas himself, finds him dressed in underwear in a hard-hitting solo featuring a teddy bear. ‘The bear is hanging by its neck, limbs tied behind its back and eyes and mouth covered in tape,’ says Douglas. ‘And people have been outraged by it being treated that way, because it’s such a strong symbol – but the piece is all about keeping secrets.’

Final duet, Chora, was inspired by the aforementioned critical theory book and will receive its world premiere in Glasgow. Like the two pieces accompanying it, Douglas doesn’t shy away from the darker side of life. ‘I regard myself as a storyteller,’ he says. ‘Because all of these stories are in all of us – either in the past or the future, they’re in there.’

Say it's Not True - Touching Tongues - Chora

Three pieces by Norman Douglas Company: solo piece 'Say it's Not True' set to the music of Alfred Schnittke; secrets, paranoia and a teddy bear in 'Touching Tongues', danced by Douglas himself; a dynamic clash of egos in 'Chora'. Followed by a post-show discussion on Fri 12 Jun.

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