Intervju med Toby Kassell

Igår var jag på Göteborgsoperan och mellan de två scenrepen inför Spirit fick jag en intervju med Toby Kassell som medverkar i det första stycket, Noetic. Det var riktigt kul att träffa Toby igen då jag har haft honom i modernt under en termin i skolan förra året. Det blev en lite stressig lunch då Toby precis kom från sitt rep och jag skulle iväg och se nästa strax efter. Vi satt i cafeterian och det var fullt med dansare och annat folk som pratade glatt. Såg några ansikten jag kände igen och hälsade på några andra. Mycket ljud runt omkring och det var en aning svårt att fokusera på intervjun, men vi fick en trevlig och intressant pratstund. Eftersom intervjun var på engelska skriver jag den också på engelska. Trevlig läsning :)

I’m blogging behind the scenes at the Opera in Gothenburg when their dance company is having performances. At saturday it’s worlds premiere of Spirit, which consisting of two pieces, Noetic and Metamorphosis. Yesterday I went to see two stage rehearsals and I also got an interview with one of the dancers, Toby Kassell. Toby comes from England and he received his education at Royal Ballet School in London. 2005 he was nominated to ”most outstanding male dancer” by Dance Europe Magazine. He has been in this company since 2006 and now he is dancing in the first piece Noetic by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.


– I was told that you have a special part in this piece, what is it like?

– I have some text that I say. I learned the text and then I choreographed movement to it. I presented it to Larbi and he thougt it was a good idea. It’s a lot of text, all this sciencestuff and if you’re not a scientist you don’t really understand it. It’s the first time I have done something like this, it’s really cool to try something new. Something I haven’t done before. I doesn’t happen so often that you get the chance to do that.

– For how long have you been working with this piece?

– We started on the 10th of december, so about three months. It’s been a really long process and today is the first time we have done the piece from beginning to end. We are going to work more with it and it won’t be finished until friday.

– Is it always like this when you work?

– All choreographers work differently and I have never worked with Larbi before, but it’s quite common for choreographers to keep creating to the last hours. There are things that are good about this. You should always be thinking in the moment, you shouldn’t get into habits. When we’re working like this you can’t get in to habits, it’s not really possible. You have to remember what the choreographer said five minutes ago and don’t do the same thing over again. I think that’s really good.

– Was today the first day on the stage?

– We have been working on the stage for two weeks but today was the first time we got from the beginning to the end.

I only saw like ten minutes of Noetic, when they were rehearsing the whole piece. But my focus landed on their scenography. The dancers use this metallic sticks in different ways and build different sculptures with them. It’s made by the sculptor Antony Gormley, who had worked together with the choreographer before. 

– The scenography was very cool and interesting, how do you use it?

– We use this sticks in all different ways, lay them down on the floor like a labyrint, make circles out of them. We use them as much as possible. In the end we build this ball, it’s the first time we made it today, it’s really complicated and we’re all quite happy that we made the ball.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui have also worked with the composer Szymon Brzóska who wrote new music especially for this piece. It’s never been heard before and it’s performed live by an orchestra and a vocal soloist.

– Is it a big difference to work with live and recorded music?

– Recorded music: It’s always the same, you count it and the tempo is always the same, it’s very comfortable. But when it’s live music, you really have to listen. You have to be connected to that dynamic, because it changes. I prefer when everything is created for the end result, so you don’t have something that was made in another time for something else. So this is a first experience for every sense, and it’s a much more profound artistic experience, that’s an opinion of mine.

– How is it to work with the company in this piece?

– It’s a very big piece and it’s a different feeling when you’re in such a big group of nineteen. If you do a piece with like five and ten people, there’s an intimacy thats created between the dancers. In this process there are some sections when we have a quartet or a duett and that’s the only time you have that kind of connection. The rest of the time it’s these big group parts which is about learning the steps, the counts, perfection. We never have someone standing at the front telling us what to do or showing us the steps like in school. All the material in the piece is generated by us from choreographic tasks, except for two group sections that is choreographed by his assistant. We’re always responsible for creating our own materials. Sometimes it’s the improvisation and then you find things and you try to keep and repeat them and choreograph that way. There’s always a different process to how it’s done, but if you see a creation of this company there’s movements generated by us. That’s kind of interesting. Off course it’s under the direction of the choreographer. It’s their work, maybe it’s our movements, but it’s not our work. Because we wouldn’t generate that movement without him telling us what to do. You feel a huge responsibility and you’re very connected to the piece. Our material is inside, but we have to remember that it’s not our work.

– Is it only dancers from the company?

– We’re having a lot of dancers that are coming in and out on six months contract so in this production there are some dancers on the stage for the first time. New people to us to work with, but everybody on stage is in the company, we have no freelancers.

– Last question: What does a typical day for you look like?

– A typical day starts at 10 am to 11:15 with a morning class and then we start rehears at 11.30 and continue to 18. One hour for lunch and a couple of breaks to drink water.

Thank you Toby for taking the time to talk, it was really nice to hear a bit more about what the process have been like and how it is to work in this company!

If you click on this link you can see short films with the choreographer, the sculptor and the composer. There is also more information of Spirit. 



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