Published: Feb 02, 2012
The British choreography giant Matthew Bourne came to LIPA in January to talk about his career in dance and musical theatre.
Matthew, whose impressive CV includes five Olivier Awards, spent over an hour with students in the Institute’s Paul McCartney Auditorium.
LIPA’s CEO and Founding Principal Mark Featherstone-Witty hosted the event.
Matthew, pictured, started by recalling his childhood years in London, when he would put on shows with his friends and pick up moves from Hollywood films. The mastermind behind the first all-male Swan Lake also reflected on auditioning, as the age of 22, for a dance theatre and choreography course, having had no formal training.
He explained: “My audition was the first dance lesson I had ever had. I thought I was quite good at the time. I was self-taught and copied things off TV. I would really love to see what I looked like! I think they were really impressed by my passion for the subject, and boy dancers were really scarce at that time.”
After graduating in 1985, he and a group of fellow dancers formed a touring company called Adventures in Motion Pictures. In the early 1990s, he found himself the sole director and brought in new talent.
The re-launched company began under the direction of Matthew, whose vision was to produce fresh new work that both entertained and brought a smile to people’s faces.
Matthew reflected: “There was not a lot of humour in dance in the early 1990s. We were different but not always liked by everyone because of that, but we got noticed and we got an identity.”
Under the umbrella of his company, now called New Adventures, he has produced an all-male ensemble Swan Lake – which featured in the film Billy Elliot –, Nutcracker! and Play without Words, among others.
He also created choreography for high-profile London revivals of Oliver!, My Fair Lady and South Pacific. Matthew has collaborated with performers including Michael Sheen, Jonathan Pryce and Rowan Atkinson.
As well as talking about dance, choreography, and casting, he reflected on the vital, often overlooked roles played by lighting designers. Matthew also commented on the director-set designer relationship, and how the designer’s ideas often dictate the choreography. Clips of several of his shows were shown and Matthew took questions from the floor.