Christopher Bruce’s Shadows

13 Feb 2015

Christopher created a new work, Shadows for our Mixed Programme 2015.

Christopher Bruce is a dance legend. His previous association with Rambert Dance Company [now just Rambert] as a dancer, choreographer and, ultimately, artistic director, established his formidable reputation world-wide. His work features in the repertoire of many major companies. Sharon Watson, artistic director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, is therefore delighted that Bruce has created Shadows on her dancers.  It has been a long-held ambition of Watson to secure an original piece by this great dance-maker and he is also staging his ballet Shift to form a double helping of his works on a quadruple bill that includes Bloom by Caroline Finn and Sharon’s own new work _ TearFall.

Bruce is one of the few modern choreographers, outside of the old Soviet Union, whose work contains a strong political element. For Those Who Die as Cattle, Swansong and Ghost Dances were inspired by the First World War, modern torture methods and repression by South American juntas respectively. “This new work is certainly part of the social, political, human world. We all feel strongly about things, which we discuss with our friends and family. I make work about what I feel strongly about. Art is an expression of how I feel about the world and history has had a deep influence on my life. As a late teenager I read so many books on the carnage of World War One; the four and a half years of conflict produced so many powerful images. You can be affected by historic events even without direct experience of them. With Swansong I was responding to what was happening in Chile and Argentina. At the same time the themes have to be balanced with your work as a craftsman. The ballet has to stand on its own as a piece of dance. Making a political statement without the dimension of art can look banal. I always tell the dancers what I am doing and I find more and more that I am educating a younger generation about things they know nothing about. Some dancers are well read; but many have focussed on turning their bodies into dancing machines. The way I work in the studio is an organic process and it’s all there in the movement, with a subtle subtext. The dancers’ sub-conscious engages with what pops up: sadness, joy, innocence, experience. Movement is a wonderful medium for expressing deep emotions.”

Interview by Mike Dixon.