‘The Soldier’s Tale’- Behind the scenes with choreographer Timothy Coleman

This weekend is the premiere of an independent theatre show ‘The Soldier’s Tale’. ( http://www.ticketmash.sg/soldierstale ) A unique performance combining live musicians and dancers, to be ‘read played and danced’ in two parts. Timothy Coleman has created the choreography for this brand new production in Singapore, and shares his experiences behind the scenes…Cover-page-Brighter

What is unique about this production?

The original production was a Russian folktale to be “read, played, and danced”. We thought we could tell the story in a modern way through dance and interaction with live musicians, as well as narration. In the performance we have seven live musicians, three dancers, a narrator, and a conductor combining to tell the story.

What was the choreographic process like?

I didn’t start this project with a clear knowledge of what it was going to become. I just sort of let it evolve. This was a very different approach for me as I usually like to have everything planned out before I start.

I wanted to each of the characters to have very different and unique styles of movement. I selected pieces of music from different genres to come up with a movement repertoire for each of the characters. The Devil’s movement began from experimental- electronic/techno music and the Soldier’s movement started out to a recording of army marching drills. With this as a basis I started trying to fit it together to the incredibly difficult music by Stravinsky.Photo 12-11-2014 7 44 56 pm

What makes this music challenging?

The music of The Soldier’s Tale is composed by Igor Stravinsky. If you are familiar with his music you will know that it can be a little ‘different’ to listen to – let alone dance to. Most often we dance to music that has fairly regular counts. Stravinsky’s music however is not like this at all. It jumps all over the place – sometimes a ten, followed by a six, then a thirteen. This means that the dancer has to learn the steps AND a seemingly random sequence of numbers. For some of the dances it took me hours of sitting and listening to figure out the most logical way to count the music.

What has the rehearsal schedule been like?

Finding enough rehearsal time has been a bit of a challenge! The dancers and I work full time with Singapore Dance Theatre and therefore have worked a lot of evenings and weekends to get this project finished. It has took about three months to complete. I haven’t been adding up the hours we’ve spent but let’s just say that creating choreography can be a slow process. I am so thankful that the dancers have been so willing give up their time for this project. They have been fantastic.

What was it like working with the musicians?

One of the biggest features of this production is the way the live music and the musicians themselves are part of the story. One of the most important aspects is the Soldier’s violin, so it has been great to bring the violin out of the ensemble and have him ‘dance’ with the Soldier. It was a lot of fun to choreograph a duet for these two performers from different disciplines, and watch them become comfortable sharing the space together.Photo 31-10-2014 1 44 04 am

You are only a couple of days from opening night. How has it all come together?

In the last week we have rehearsed the dancers together with the music ensemble. When you have a live group of musicians the music itself becomes variable and alive, so it is a big change for the dancers, who have been working from a CD recording. Dancers are very sensitive to small changes in tempo. Just 1% can make a noticeable difference. I have worked with Adrian, who is also the conductor, and the dancers to make sure all the cues are right and everything works together as it should.

In the end it has all come together very well and I think we are all set to bump in to the theatre. It has been a long process but an enjoyable one. We are all really looking forward to this weekend. It will be great to finally perform The Soldier’s Tale in front of an audience!Photo 11-11-2014 8 10 54 pm


Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this show! Tickets are only $20.

15/16th November 2014, at the Esplanade Recital Studio

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