Stewart’s ‘Mad’ New Project
March 14th, 2014
When Gavin Stewart’s new piece, Shadows on the Inside, premieres at the Ballet’s New Works Festival on March 25, the opening tune will be familiar to anyone who watches the hit show, Mad Men. Set in the 1960s, Stewart uses eight dancers to tell a story that is inspired by the distinct styling and feel of the AMC series, from office politics to the evolving relationships between men and women. The ten-minute ballet features a combination of jazz, ballet and ballroom dance, complete with beautifully synchronized ensemble and partnering work. Stewart’s ballet concludes with an effortlessly fun finish set to a favorite 1950s crooner staple by Don Cherry.
Gavin talks Shadows on the Inside:
Richmond Ballet (RB): Talk about your inspiration for your piece for Richmond Ballet’s New Works Festival.
Gavin Stewart (GS): The ballet is inspired by music, situations, and characters from the hit television series Mad Men. The details and the character development are so strong, and my goal is to describe those elements with the movement and theatrical aspects.
RB: Describe your choreographic style, and does this new piece remain true to that style, or depart from it anyway?
GS: Creativity comes from inspiration for me, which is not always something you can control. So I found a concept that moved me to create, came up with a structure for the flow of the ballet and left the movement up to spontaneity. If I create a phrase or steps before the process with the dancers begins I tend to take less risks. When I am in front of a group of dancers I am inspired by their abilities and how that translates to the world I am creating, and I feel open to possibilities.
RB: What can you tell us about the music?
GS: The music is high energy; 60s pop/jazz combined with a contemporary hip-hop.
RB: What excites you most about working with the, your colleagues, the Richmond Ballet dancers?
GS: Richmond ballet has a group of very able dancers. They are with you every step of the way and are receptive to each moment, which makes for a very smooth process. At first I was a little nervous to set a work on my fellow company members, but at the end of the day all of us are there to work hard and have fun.