Jongerenopera 'Venus and Adonis' - Andrew Greenwood: Communities and division

Donderdag 25 augustus 2011

I’m Andrew Greenwood. I originally come from England, although I haven’t lived there for twenty-two years. I had quite an interesting, successful career as a dancer. As a dancer you have the advantage of no language problems. So I abused that. I saw it as a ticket to explore as much of the world as possible. Along the way I was working very much, more and more, with students. I got a little bit tired of the professional world not because it’s nasty, just because they’re busy doing their nine to five job. The hunger is there, but nothing like working with empty books.

 These people we’re working with are empty books. It’s wonderful. The knowledge you give them is a lot. They will take some of it, along their road. But I think the biggest thing we have to give them is an insight into professionalism and the importance of discovery, risk, community and confidence to step over the mark. Even if they feel stupid, even if they feel embarrassed about something. It’s a very delicate period for them, if you don’t want to give them, what I call, a psychological hypnotic accident. You have to make their skin thick, because that’s what’s out there, especially in the theatre, orchestra or as a singer or dancer. It’s a wonderful world but you’re skin has to become a little bit thick because there are a lot of egos out there, that have a certain vision.

This is what I like about the process. Obviously the leading team are also very aware of the fact that it’s a two-week process and you’ve got these young kids that have these aspirations and dreams. We have to be careful not to get in the result base. As a creator of a form of art, you want it to be good. But this is one of those things you want be careful with here, because these two weeks are actually a seminar for kids to learn something. That’s why we do have to take a little step back, especially Itamar Serussi and myself because we’re working mostly with professionals. It’s a different drive.

In that way it’s also a learning process for me. It’s a special community. There aren’t so many young kids working with Barok music or Barok instruments. It’s quite a special group to spend your summer here in rainy Antwerp doing Venus and Adonis, doing Barok music with a modern choreographer. You have to be a particular person to be a part of that. That’s nice and really interesting.  For someone to have a dream and pick up a harpsichord is a wonderful thing.

We’re actually in the same business, all of us. When I hear Nicolas and Maccin talk about emotion, about pulling back, about being generous, about not being scared, I think: it’s exactly the same language. We just do different parts, a different craft and use different tools.  But it’s the same language. You need commas, you need full stops and you need to know when to cry or when to hold back.

When you work in the opera house, there is a big division between the opera, the orchestra and the ballet. They all work together. But you have the orchestra in the pit, the dancers on stage and singers with them on stage doing their own thing. It’s a natural division, but if you warm up together, as we do, even with the musicians you create a community and try to break those natural divisions.  That’s really important, because that’s what we’re trying to create… a community. 

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