Press & PR Assistant Ben Wooldridge (@benwooldridge) writes about a backstage peek with one of the country’s leading dance companies…
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is now a world-wide phenomenon, playing across the globe to sold-out crowds in America, Europe, Australia and Japan. The production has currently collected over 30 international theatre awards including three Tony Awards and most recently Matthew Bourne was honoured with the De Valois award for outstanding achievement at the National Dance Awards.
A couple of weeks ago, myself and a journalist headed down to London’s Sadlers Wells to take a rarely seen peek behind the scenes at life as a dancer in one of the UK’s most celebrated dance companies, New Adventures.
Navigating our way around the labyrinth that is any theatre’s backstage area, we soon stumbled across the wigs and wardrobe departments who were hard at work preparing for the evening’s show. Working through the day, the 500 pieces of costume are well looked after whilst they are re-stitched, washed and ironed after a hard wearing during the performance.
After watching rehearsal from the theatre’s fly floor (the gallery above the stage where scenery is winched on and off the stage), we are joined by dancer, Jack Jones as he prepares for the show. Jack leads us to the ‘Swan Room’ at the side of the stage; the impromptu room is a small black corridor strewn with intermittent mirrors, hanging black make-up pencils and tubs of white body paint.
This is the place which sees 14 male dancers transform into their infamous roles as the male swans in a two minute time frame – donning their white ‘feathered’ bottoms, drawing black beaks on their foreheads and layering themselves with the white body paint. As you can imagine, it’s a frantic rush backstage before the ensemble of swans leap onto stage for one of the production’s most famous scenes.
An hour or so later we are back on stage with Jack as he stretches before curtain up. As we stand on stage the curtain comes down and we can hear the chatter of the audience taking their seats. Once Jack is in costume, we take our place in the wings and the curtain goes up – the sound of the overture giving us both goosebumps…
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake opens with us tonight (5 March 2014) with a few final tickets remaining – for more info and tickets click here.
Take a look at the gallery below for photos from our evening backstage…