Sunday, 16 March 2014

Christopher Marney

I have seen quite a lot of Christopher Marney since I started this blog and I have reviewed his work in several articles. The quality of his work that I most admire, both as a dancer and as a choreographer, is his sensitivity to music. He is as sensitive to sound and as accurate as an oscilloscope but unlike that lifeless instrument he translates sound into the most beautiful movement. It was Marney's dancing as Count Lilac - powerful and vital - that saved Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty for me last year. It was his choreography that I admired so much in Ballet Black and Ballet Central's mixed bills.

Though still a young man Marney has packed a lot of experience into his career - Balletboyz, Gothenberg, Biaritz, Berne, Japan to list just a few of his engagements.  As Jessica Wilson observed in "Christopher Marney: Dancer, Choreographer, Dance Extraordinaire!" 8 July 2013 Dance Direct he is a "man of many talents."  According to that article Marney he started to choreograph in Gothenberg.  In an interview that he gave for Ballet Central's blog ("Backstage with choreographer Christopher Marney" 26 Feb 2013) he explained how he was encouraged by the keen dancers and great theatre.

Ballet Central asked Marney to describe his style. He replied that it was "narrative" explaining how he loves to create a piece around a strong plot, particularly with a contemporary theme so that the audience can be drawn in emotionally.  He added:
"A narrative also gives an awful lot of scope for different movement and opportunities to play with the audience’s humour. Even without an obvious storyline, there has to be an intention, an emotive purpose to every movement."
That is certainly true and it came out particularly well in War Letters where Marney explored every emotion that emerges in war anchoring his work to readings from contemporary letters to and from the front and the voice of Alvar Lidell. Incidentally, in this 100th anniversary year of the start of the First World War, Marney's ballet remembers the contribution of the millions of servicemen from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia in both world wars that is not yet properly acknowledged (see "Africa's forgotten wartime heroes"  14 Aug 2009).

However. as I said before it is his interpretation of music which is the quality that I most admire. Some call that musicality. Others lyricism.  For me, without the benefit of a thorough education in music or dance, I would say that Marney brings out in the movements of his dancers -particularly Kanika Carr Sayaka Ichikawa of Ballet Black - the several qualities of the music. I noted that particularly in Two of a Kind set to Tchaikovsky and Ravel - the last of Marney's works that I have seen and the one I like best so far.

In her interview with Marney, Jessica Wilson asked "What is the best part about dance?" He replied:
"I think the best part is when it touches someone and a person can be moved or made to feel something by what they are witnessing. It is amazing how that cycle continues to inspire generations."
Well with Two of a Kind and War Letters Marney has certainly touched me. I could tell from the reaction of the audiences in London and Leeds that I was not the only one.

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