Interview: Christopher Marney Q&A

Monday 17 August 2009

Christopher Marney, Choreographer and Director of 'Hotel Follies' After completing his training at Central School of Ballet, London, Christopher joined Matthew Bourne’s company, dancing the Prince in Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells and on international tours. He also danced in The Car Man at the Old Vic and recently created the role of Cyril Vane in Dorian Gray. Christopher has performed both contemporary and classical roles with companies such as the Balletboyz, Gothenburg Ballet, Ballet Biarritz and the Michael Clark Company. He recently created and performed the title role in Will Tuckett’s ROH2 production of The Thief of Baghdad.

Christopher appeared at the final of the Hannover Choreographic Competition and has shown his work at the Bridewell Theatre, the music room, The Place and at Regensburg’s Opera House. In 2009 He was made an associate artist of the UK foundation for Dance.

Christopher is the choreographer and director of Hotel Follies – coming to the Arts Theatre, London from 26 – 30 August. managed to catch up with him between rehearsals…

You have performed extensively with companies such as New Adventures, Balletboyz and Gothenburg Ballet, at what point, and why, did you decide to try your hand at choreographing?
Being in Gothenburg purely for the work and with all those long days of not much daylight it was the perfect place to start developing not only a way of moving but a vocabulary too. The whole infrastructure is there to aid you, great dancers, the best of Europe’s choreographers visiting to do creations on you and you’re even in an opera house that’s shaped like a ship! It gave me the time to try out anything I wanted.

How would you describe your choreographic style?
Emotive. I try to explain the situation or relationship through childlike movement. Plenty of eye contact and human gestures. When you touch someone, you should touch them deep and I believe in turn this translates to the audience.

What first drew you to dance as a boy?
It was more to the stage, rather than solely dance. My parents gave me a wonderfully well-rounded understanding of what was going on in the world and the arts seemed to reach out as the most appealing!

Hotel Follies seems to take you in a slightly different direction from the contemporary based work you have done with Gothenburg ballet, Balletboyz and Artelier. What prompted your choice of subject matter and this perhaps more theatrically styled approach to telling your story?
Equal to dance I have always had a love for music and musicals, especially those 1940s composers who seemed to be able to tell a story and paint a picture of an era or a place just in one short song. I want to be able to transport an audience as well as they have by piecing together existing material and new work of my own. A performer who is able to embody a multi-facet of angles to their work, to use what they have inside of them is, to me, a real artist. I am lucky to have performers like that in Hotel Follies, such as Hendrick January who is playing The Hotel Barman.

You have worked for many years with Matthew Bourne and include a duet from a Matthew Bourne work within this piece. How has your relationship with him and his work influenced you – or has it?
The reason I work for Matthew is that he is a storyteller and that’s the only thing I’ve wanted to do as a performer – relay a character on stage. My first job was with Matthew and I have always come back to do more throughout the last ten years.
Having this opportunity to present a full evening work it felt natural to tell a story so Matthew was an important person I wanted to have involved – and the duet’s a great one.

'Hotel Follies' 26-30 August, Arts Theatre, Photo: Jonathan Eeles You have been busy – choreographing, directing and performing in the piece. How have you been able to juggle the responsibilities you have in each of those three roles?
Well I am not in the piece much. I don’t think you can direct something efficiently if you can’t see it from outside, so my participation is minimal. Organising it is a battle as up until recently I was performing in another show so it was a bit like running an office from my dressing room. Choreographically I have had these ideas in my head for years so it’s all coming out nicely…so far.

Do you see yourself predominantly as a dancer or choreographer? Can you see this changing in the future, and why?
I never understand those dancers with the mentality of having to search for a new career when the body packs in. I see my life more like an artist’s. I might perform for a while, then not dance whilst I plan my own show, or choreograph a piece on a company abroad. For me the favourable thing is to stay open and work on the projects I really want to do. Dancing, Choreographing, or not.

I believe this is the first time you have presented your own work of this scale publically. What will ‘success’ look like to you?
Seeing my ideas realised on stage and having positive feedback from the people that matter to me.

If your life’s work hadn’t become dance, what might it have been?

What’s happening next for you?
I am dancing the Prince in *Swan Lake* at Sadler’s Wells, this Christmas, then in the New Year choreographing a new piece for Ballet Central.

And finally….
Favourite Book?To Kill a Mockingbird
Favourite Films? Slaves of New York, The Kite Runner, The Hours.
Current most listened to track on your ipod/CD/mp3 player? “I Travel Alone”, by Noel Coward – it’s on repeat as it’s in ‘Hotel Follies’ and I am trying to learn the words!
Top three people in your wish list of creative artists you’d like to collaborate with…
Mats Ek, Anna Netrebko, Tamara Rojo

Hotel Follies is showing at the Arts Theatre from 26-30 August 2009
To book tickets contact the box office on: 0845 017 5584
“Info & online booking”:
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