Scottish Ballet's Christopher Hampson on Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling
The production is Bourne's adaptation of La Sylphide
It’s always a good idea to turn up at a job interview well prepared. But when Christopher Hampson arrived at Scottish Ballet, to convince the company he should be its new artistic director, he took preparation to a whole new level. ‘I looked at Scottish Ballet’s repertoire, and thought it would be right to have a production of La Sylphide,’ he recalls. Rather than opt for a traditional version, however, he thought of Matthew Bourne’s modern-day re-working, Highland Fling. Only trouble is, Bourne had never let anyone, other than his own New Adventures company, perform one of his full-length works before. ‘I wanted to be sure I was presenting myself at the interview with everything intact,’ says Hampson, ‘so I spoke to Matthew and said I know the answer’s probably no, but if I get the job at Scottish Ballet, would you consider letting the company perform Highland Fling? And he took a moment, then said “yes”. I was thrilled.’
Happily, Hampson got the job – and Highland Fling now has a place in Scottish Ballet’s repertoire. Bourne’s engaging work starts in the toilet of a Glasgow night club, before moving into an ethereal world filled with nymphs. Filled with the choreographer’s trademark wit, strong characterisation and emotional heart, Highland Fling is a coup for any company.
‘I think it’s a real responsibility,’ says Hampson, ‘both for me and Scottish Ballet – but it’s a really wonderful one.’
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Sat 27 Apr–Sat 4 May; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 22–Sat 25 May.