Behind the scenes with Scottish Ballet and its revealing Creation of a Work in a Week project
- Kelly Apter
- 28 April 2017
Live streaming of James Cousins at work shines a light on painstaking choreographic process
Not for nothing did Scottish Ballet call its inaugural digital season Under the Skin. Every aspect of this month-long endeavour has taken us deep into the heart of the company – and none more so than the ambitious *Creation of a Work in a Week*.
Choreographer James Cousins admitted the prospect of fast-tracking his creative process, and opening it up to the world, was 'a bit scary' – and understandably so. Streamed live from Scottish Ballet's Glasgow headquarters for around 30 minutes each day from Monday to Friday, the project showed Cousins and 12 dancers construct a 5-minute piece to the music of Sigur Ros.
After a phenomenal start, with almost 50,000 viewers checking out Day One, numbers dropped to between 20-30,000 for the rest of the week. Which says less about Cousins' style, and more about how painstakingly slow it is to create a piece worth watching.
It's likely only die-hard dance fans stuck with it for the full duration each day, but many more will no doubt tune in to see the finished product when it airs on Wed 3 May.
Sitting in the studio with Cousins and the dancers on Day Two, as the countdown to going live began, the sense that something special was about to happen was palpable. The rehearsal room is a place where mistakes can be made and learned from, but with the world watching, everyone wanted those mistakes to be minimal. Especially as Cousins' piece features two central characters permanently elevated from the floor, often balanced precariously on the shoulders, hands and knees of the other dancers.
Used to facing the public in costumes and make-up, beautifully lit from all sides, the dancers here were wrapped only in rehearsal clothes and daylight. But as principal dancer Sophie Martin confirmed after the cameras were switched off, she was too busy focussing on the task at hand to think about how she looked.
For those watching Creation of a Work in a Week, it was fascinating to see seemingly disparate scraps of movement stitched together to form something meaningful. And couldn't help but give you a renewed appreciation of the patience and sheer hard physical graft that goes into everything we see on stage.
The final screening of James Cousins work will be shown online at facebook.com/scottishballethq on Wed 3 May, 1pm.
Scottish Ballet: Digital Season Pop Up
Scottish Ballet's inaugural Digital Season, Under the Skin, which includes a diverse programme of films, live streaming and installation projects, focusing on innovation and collaboration.