La La La Human Steps: Amjad
They say a picture tells a thousand words, and the poster for La La La Human Steps’ latest show pretty much tells you all you need to know. Standing 20ft tall, male dancer Dominic Santia is wearing a sharp black suit and pointe shoes. It’s a sure sign that Amjad, the latest creation by Canadian choreographer, Édouard Lock is not your average ballet.
But what if it’s you up there, towering over the public in countless cities across Europe? For Santia, who joined the company in 2006, it’s all feeling rather special. ‘You look at it and think, “Oh my Lord, how is this happening?!”’ he says. ‘To be on tour is already exciting, but then to drive through a city or walk outside your hotel and see these big posters just leaves you struck. It makes me feel very fortunate and blessed.’
Santia wasn’t feeling quite so fortunate early in rehearsals, when he experienced the toe-battering effects of wearing pointe shoes. How did it feel, slipping his feet into them for the first time? ‘Painful!’ he laughs. ‘At first I think there was so much adrenaline that I didn’t feel it, but after a while the blisters started coming and I had to ask the girls what I should put on my toes to help them. Dancing in pointe shoes is painful and amazing at the same time, because it’s a whole other way of moving.’
Inspired by Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Amjad features stunning live music adapted from Tchaikovsky by Gavin Bryars. While Lock’s choreographer blends classical technique with sharp contemporary moves in a 90-minute show that flashes past in the blink of an eye. Dancing at such a dizzying speed, however, can sometimes come at a price, as Santia explains: ‘It can be quite exhilarating, but if you’re not on top of your game it can also be quite scary. I’ve heard stories of people getting their nose broken, because you’re moving so fast and if you’re not connected with your partner something can happen – but we rehearse to the point where those instances are very rare.’