It’s not exactly an inspiring location. Yet it is room 351 where the choreographer and designer have to present their ideas for the new ballet that will be premiered by the Dutch National Ballet in a year’s time.
The small room is overcrowded and hot already. Everyone is here. Colleagues from the costume, scenery and props departments are sitting in anticipation, as they will have to get down to work in the coming months to make all the sets, costumes and props. Painting, sawing, hammering, sewing, cutting and welding: today they’ll get to see and hear what they’ll have to do. The AVC department is here too, as video projections will be used. And there are representatives from the stage and lighting crews and the production management. These departments will be responsible for staging and running the production. Colleagues from the marketing department have also turned up, as they will have to sell 25,000 tickets next year – so the more they know about the production, the better they’ll be able to prepare their sales approach. Today, they’ll all hear what’s expected of them.
All attention is focused on the model that’s been set up for the presentation. It’s a unique piece of craftsmanship, with our stage and all the wings built to scale and miniature figures of the main characters in the ballet. The sets, backdrops and drapes have been made following the design for the real theatre, but then in miniature. They can be hung in the model so that all the scene changes can be replicated. Tiny spotlights are arranged to resemble the stage lighting. It all looks just like the real thing.
Ted gives a short introduction and then hands over to the choreographer. He turns out to be gifted talker, who takes us through the ballet as if we were the theatre audience. We get to know the main character, as well as her partner and the other characters. The choreographer has his own vision of the story, and explains his personal interpretation with great charm. Meanwhile, the designer changes the miniature sets and drapes in the model, so that we go from scene to scene. We see his designs come alive on stage, but then in miniature.
So there we sit. Around forty level-headed adults in a dreary and stuffy little room. But it’s a wonderful place to be. As breathlessly as little children, we listen to the timeless story of the ballet. Our imagination is given free rein for a while. We ‘see’ how our heroine will whirl across the stage of The Amsterdam Music Theatre and how her partner will fall in love with her. It’s fascinating to be a witness to the process of production and creation like this. What once originated as a simple idea has been brought to life by creative minds. And today they are letting us enter their domain. Although it’s not yet designed and worked out down to the last detail, the creative process is well underway and now we’ve seen where it’s heading. From today on, many of the people in the room will be making intensive contributions to the process. The costume designer and our costume department will work together on the production and influence each other’s work, just like the set designs will be influenced by the expertise and advice of our scenery department. What we have seen today is just the beginning. It will all become much more beautiful.
And so this ballet, which until this morning I had only known as a title in the schedule, will continue to grow, until it is mature enough to go on stage. “And that’s only a year away!” says the choreographer, looking concerned at all that still has to happen. To him, December 2012 seems like the day after tomorrow.
But to me, it feels like an eternity.< blog archive