Interview: Liv Lorent Q&A

Friday 22 February 2008

Liv Lorent *Choreographer Liv Lorent has developed a reputation for intriguing, site-specific,
intergenerational work with her Newcastle based company BalletLORENT.*

*One of her most recent works, The Ball toured to over 30 UK and European venues before becoming an open air performance
for Trafalgar Square in 2003. She has also made pieces for Scottish Dance Theatre
and George Piper Dances, amongst others, but is touring a new work with her own
company at the moment.*

*_Angelmoth,_ coming to the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler’s Wells from 23 – 26 Feb 08, is
another new venture – a work made to be accessible to children, but also to appeal
to the child in the rest of us.*

!! Angelmoth is described as ‘a fairytale for all ages’. What is it about?

The fairytale is set in a library and centres on five characters who take refuge
from the outside world within the walls of books. When a stranger enters their
lives, he leads the way to an encounter with the mysterious and ethereal Angelmoth.
They lose each other and find themselves in a land of magic where they learn to
face their ghosts and discover the potential within themselves.

*It’s the first work that you’ve made which is for young people (aged 5 and upwards) – as well as adults. How has it been received so far on tour?*

I love that *Angelmoth* has really opened up the doors for a huge age spectrum within the audience –
sometimes with mothers even nursing their babies. And I particularly love it when
3 generations of the same family come together to watch the performance. Despite
our age suggestion (5 years and over) sometimes people bring younger children,
and the very little ones seem to enjoy it very much in their own way…. But Angelmoth was made very much for adults to be transported back to childhood and fantasy.

How did the project come about?

It was a combination of events… balletLORENT’s long term collaborator Paul Shriek wanted to do a fairytale after we first worked together in 2000. Sometime in
2004, Bush Hartshorn saw the potential in balletLORENT creating a landscape of fantasy within its
work that would be very engaging for children – it was in response to seeing La Vie Des Fantasmes Erotiques et Esthetiques. He suggested we take out the sex and the nudity and we would have within our
work an appealing theatricality that could enchant children. It was then a matter
of finding the right collaborators to complete the experience – which we have
with Ben Crompton as writer/narrator, Andy Ross composer, Phil Eddolls set designer, Paul Shriek costume designer and Malcolm Rippeth as the lighting design. This team, along with 9 fantastic dancers, make Angelmoth what it is.

*A lot of your work has been site specific – what is your ideal sort of space
to work in?*

I’m still looking for the ideal space – I quite like being out of conventional
dance studios, but I think that ideally I would make work in the actual performance
space whether it was a theatre or not. I would like to be able to make the work
from the audiences’ seat. But that is some luxury I don’t know we will ever have.

*Is part of the appeal of site-specific work the kind of audiences that it allows
you to reach?*

Yes, of course, I love the idea of us being someone’s first experience of dance – especially when you see the performance has been inspiring for people and you
know they are going to be looking for another hit of dance soon.

What was your earliest experience of dance?

Music that needed to be danced to – or so I thought as a very little one gracelessly
banging into the furniture, convinced I could fly.

Where did you train? And did that equip you for the work you are making today?

Ballet in Belgium, Tring and Laban – with contemporary dance and the other techniques along the way. All the training
was valuable, even as something to rebel against. Most importantly dance training
taught me discipline, humility and disappointment. All very important skills when
trying to choreograph.

*Strange Glitter had a cast ranging from 8 years to 70 years (and Life Stories
had a similar age range). What qualities do you look for in your company dancers?*

The dancers in my company are extremely important to me – I find each and every
one beautiful. They are all very individual, and yes, there is an age range between
them that I love and find very inspiring. The qualities I look for, as well as
great physicality – include courage, faith, compassion, sense of humour, intelligence,
integrity and grace, with a willingness to give themselves body and soul to the
work. I also love beautiful feet.

What’s your usual starting point for a new work?

It normally begins with something highly personal and pertinent to me – with
the hope that I am one of the many people silently experiencing this something…
I’m looking to not feel alone. I very much want to make an empathically wordless
connection with other people.

*You make work with other companies, as well as your own. Do you work in very
different way when you work with, say George Piper Dances, or Scottish Dance Theatre?*

I try and work exactly the same way as I do with my own company, but from that
starting point very often a new way of working emerges that is unique to that
particular partnership. It is not possible to have with new dancers the shorthand
and understanding that you build with your own dancers over the years, but also
these new relationships can be very fresh creatively, as there is no habit or
history.

What have been the most important influences in your creative life so far?

Life itself. And then the discipline and maturity of growing older. Experience
helps me seek new ways to connect with those people sitting in the circle and
stalls, and age makes that connection matter.

Do you have a favourite book?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera

- Film?

The Elephant Man

- Music?

That is always changing and is very dependent on what I’m choreographing at the
time. I am very passionate about music and find it very difficult to create anything
without it.

What is next for balletLORENT?

We are going into rehearsal in March for MaEternal, which will premiere at Northern Stage on 14 May 2008 as part of the Dancing the World festival. It will be an integrated piece of dance theatre featuring my company
of dancers and 12 pregnant women.

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

Something else dedicated to escapism from real life – maybe a nurse, but in the
vein of Florence Nightingale. Or a courtesan…

*Angelmoth is at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, 23 0 26 Feb, as part
of the Connect Festival.* More details/online booking

www.balletLORENT.com

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