Interview: choreographer Christopher Hampson on his 'brutal' Rites of Spring

Interview: choreographer Christopher Hampson on his 'brutal' Rites of Spring

The Stravinsky-inspired piece is part of Scottish Ballet's autumn double-bill

A bare white stage, minimal costume and just three dancers. On paper, Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring looks a little underwhelming.

In reality, it’s one of the most powerful pieces of dance you’ll see on a Scottish stage this year. A highlight of Scottish Ballet’s recent Dance Odysseys programme at the Edinburgh International Festival, The Rite of Spring takes its name from Stravinsky’s orchestral work – but Hampson has made it all his own.

Set in an indefinable place and time, the work centres on two brothers, whose playful relationship transforms into an aggressive prisoner/inquisitor dynamic – all the while looked over by a female dancer who represents ‘faith’.

‘It’s pretty brutal,’ says Christopher Harrison, who dances the older brother role, ‘but it’s also a joy to do. You can’t help but get carried away with Stravinsky’s music and get lost in the piece, like you’re in your own little world.’

A chilling figure in uniform during the second part, Harrison worked hard to get inside the mind of the character he’s playing. ‘It’s his job and he does it every day,’ he says, ‘but obviously it’s not a nice job, and as much as he’s angry with the person he’s interrogating, it takes away a little bit of him each time he does it.’

In stark contrast, Kenneth MacMillan’s colourful Elite Syncopations completes the double-bill. Set to the ragtime music of Scott Joplin, and inspired by social dances of the 1920s, the piece brings light relief for all.

‘It’s very tongue in cheek,’ says Harrison. ‘And the music is so uplifting. We dance not just for the audience but for each other on stage. It’s so much fun.’

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 26—Sat 28 Sep.

The Rite of Spring and Elite Syncopations Trailer

Scottish Ballet: The Rite of Spring and Elite Syncopations

Three dancers play out Christopher Hampson's intense The Rite of Spring, while Kenneth MacMillan's Elite Syncopations is 1920s inspired and colourful.

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