Essay, Research Paper
Triumph of a swan and dance manMatthew Bourne gives a valuable insight into what makes him tick in conversation with Alastair MacaulayMatthew Bourne and his Adventures in Motion Pictures: In Conversation with Alastair Macaulay Faber & Faber ?14.99, pp403Matthew Bourne’s male Swan Lake returns to London this week, after a spell on Broadway and several British tours. Since its opening at Sadler’s Wells in November 1995 and transfer to the West End in 1996, the production has won numerous awards, here and in the United States. It has brought a new audience to dance, attracting people who would rather go to musicals rather than to ballet or contemporary dance.Swan Lake has been skilfully marketed – though its image as an all-male version of the traditional Tchaikovsky ballet is misleading. There are plenty of women in the production; the corps of swans, however, are male, as is their leader, the Prince’s idealised love object. ‘I saw the Swan as more of an animal – even more than a bird… a pagan thing almost,’ Bourne tells his interlocutor, Alistair Macaulay, the Financial Times theatre critic. ‘It was always the wildness of swans that I wanted to show… I also wanted to do something more lyrical for men – without emasculating them in any way.’The book is an extended ‘Meet the Choreographer’ session – the question and answer ritual that often accompanies a contemporary dance performance. They can be unsatisfying because audience members are too embarrassed to ask the obvious questions: What’s it all about, and where do you get your ideas from?Creators usually prefer to cover their tracks, but Bourne is unusual in his candour, in print as in person. His first thoughts, revisions, influences and experiences are revealed as he talks about his productions and his background. The book is an insight into what makes Matthew Bourne tick – and into how choreographers operate.It is part of a Faber series of interviews with auteurs, starting with film-makers (Hitchcock, Scorsese) and moving on to people in the performing arts. The intended readership includes fans, the mildly curious and academic specialists. Bourne’s Swan Lake is now on the syllabus for dance A-level: he and his daftly named company, Adventures in Motion Pictures (whose provenance is spelt out in the book), will inspire critical studies in the future. Perhaps, for ordinary dance-goers, the magic might be tarnished by being told too much: me, I love finding out the film references in Swan Lake and Cinderella, and the sub-plot details that never made it onto the stage.• Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake opens at the Dominion Theatre on Wednesday.