Matthew Bourne’s dance pieces are always memorable and as his latest show comes to Bradford he spoke to Nick Ahad.
Matthew Bourne is one of the world’s most popularly acclaimed choreographers, certainly one of the most famous the UK has produced in many decades.
The awards he has won are endless, he is the only British choreographer to have picked up a Tony Award for both Best Choreographer and Best Director of a Musical and he has, for a quarter of a century, been at the very top of his game.
So why is he teaching children how to dance? More importantly, why is he letting the good name of his company be placed in the hands of young amateurs?
The answer is also the reason the Arts Council this year recognised the work of his company New Adventures by making it a National Portfolio Organisation, which means it is now receives regular public funding in a three year cycle.
“We have always been well supported by the Arts Council, but to have this regular funding means that we can plan ahead and look at more projects like this,” says Bourne. The ‘this’ to which he refers is a spectacular new production of Lord of the Flies, which comes to Bradford next week.
Bourne has been working on this project for a number of years. “Bradford is our last venue on this tour and it has become an even more extraordinary project the further along we have gone with it,” says Bourne. “We did this show for the very best reason – to create the dancers and artists of tomorrow. There is also the benefit of creating the audiences of tomorrow, but it was really about that, about leaving a legacy.”
Lord of the Flies is very different to other shows Bourne has created. His all male Swan Lake is globally famous, Play Without Words was an extraordinary achievement and his Car Man, Edward Scissorhands, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker took shows that were well known to audiences and made them seem fresher and more exciting than we had seen them before. With Lord of the Flies he has done something different again.
“Scottish Dance came to us with the idea of doing something at a venue outside of Glasgow involving a company of young, male dancers and the first title that came to mind was Lord of the Flies,” says Bourne.
The idea expanded and it became a plan that Bourne would create a dance piece that would then tour around venues and at each city it would work with 24 local boys who would be added to the core of eight professional dancers. When the Lord of the Flies production arrives for its final date in Bradford the 24 dancers on the stage will all be local boys. “Our work seems to really inspire young people in particular. The dancers they see on stage in our productions are not the unreachable gods and goddesses you see on the stages of a ballet company. They seem more like them and that makes them attainable and that in turn inspires our audiences. That’s why we wanted to do this project.”
Queensway Primary school pupil Matthew Lyons from Yeadon is just ten years old. He will be on the stage of the Alhambra with the company next week. He says: “It’s been a really, really fun experience and I am over the moon to go on the stage with the shows.”
Bourne says: “These are all Flies boys, they are all over the country in the cities where the production has visited. Hopefully they will be inspired to one day become Swan boys.”