In my interview for the position of Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales I was asked how I would feel about the prospect of reimagining Parade, a work originally created 100 years ago for the Ballet Russes with costumes by Picasso, screenplay by Jean Cocteau and music by Erik Satie, as part of the R17 programme… Bring it on! I said.
Little did I know how daunting that task would seem 2 years down the line, the task of reimagining such an iconic piece of dance which excited and revolted audiences at the time in equal measure.
The idea this time around, was to create a multi-disciplinary, site specific spectacle combining dance, theatre, circus, sculptures and live music in which my re-imagining of the 16 minute long Parade could exist. I knew that the man to do this, to tie all the elements together and create an exciting and relevant context for the performance, was director Marc Rees.
Caroline Finn at Wales Theatre Awards
Over the past 18 months our ideas have grown, developed, changed, morphed, been discarded and retrieved until we now find ourselves at a place where we can lead audiences through an experience deeply rooted in Welsh history but which also harks back to events at the time of the Russian Revolution. An experience that is as historical, and as current as it is futuristic.
Marc worked passionately and tirelessly at creating a fantastic narrative and overarching title for the event, P.A.R.A.D.E., which has become a collaboration of NDCWales with a super-group of predominantly Welsh artists; BBC National Orchestra of Wales, aerial artist Kate Lawrence, Rubicon dance, Dawns i Bawb, actress Eiry Thomas, set designer Jenny Hall lighting designer Joe Fletcher, costumes from Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama students, and graffiti artist Pure Evil.
The spectacle begins outside before audiences will be led through an epic and surreal installation in the foyer before entering the auditorium to settle down and watch Parade.
World renowned Spanish choreographer Marcos Morau has also created a piece which forms the second half of the evening, called Tundra. I gave Marcos the theme of ‘revolution’ to use loosely as a starting point for the work but other than that I wanted it to also be able to exist as a separate entity – a work within a work or also as part of a double or triple bill for our spring tour. He has created a stunning piece of dance, inspired by the hauntingly barren landscapes of northern Russia, drawing on traditional Russian folk dance and the necessity for groups of people to work together to evoke and inspire change.
Rehearsals for P.A.R.A.D.E.
The premise of the original Parade was a group of circus and street performers trying to coerce the public into the theatre to watch them perform. In my re-imagining of the work it is set within a factory- a group of workers putting on a performance for an important political figure. A group of people using that performance to unleash their own creativity, and make a statement about the need, in this ever-advancing age of technology, to remember that humanity must remain at the heart of what we do and how we do it.
Using the original Satie score, played live by BBC NOW and costumes designed by students of RWCMD, there identifiable images and moments where the work definitely nods to the original. But ultimately it is a subversion of that – a completely new piece, inspired by the premise of the original and the effect it had on it’s audiences but relevant to the world we live in today.
It’s certainly going to be a spectacle of mammoth proportions which I feel pretty sure is going to surprise, inspire and ignite our audiences as much as it has the creative team!