A Linha Curva: Ask a dancer

Senior Rehearsal Director Mikaela Polley and Rambert dancers Luke Ahmet, Adam Park and Kym Sojourna take time out of rehearsals to answer your questions about our samba-fuelled party piece

The choreography is all about having fun, yet it also uses complex spacing and formations. Can you tell us more about how you balance these two elements?

Mikaela: The process for the dancers is much more complex than you might think. They have to learn lots of individual phrases, how to move in the space with so many other dancers, and to be in the right positions to respond to the lighting grid. This can be quite challenging. But once they’ve got to grips with it, then they can relax, let go and just have fun.

Miguel Altunaga in A Linha Curva

The lighting defines much of the lines and spacing on stage. What is it like to interact with?

Luke: It’s interesting because there isn’t anyone cueing the lights; instead of them responding to you, you’re responding to them. They’re changing all the time so you have to be accurate. I’ve been caught out a few times in rehearsal. It’s a party so the movement is quick and loose, yet there is so much detail and structure. It’s a real challenge to be free and measured at the same time.

A Linha Curva is a celebration of Brazilian culture. How do you convey this Latin American spirit?

Mikaela: I invited Miguel Altunaga, one of our dancers from Cuba, to take a warm up on the first four days of rehearsal. Thanks to Miguel’s salsa background, he has a natural way of moving that really relates to the work. He was able to help some of the other dancers loosen up.

Adam: The music is the most important thing. It’s all drums and percussion with a samba beat. It’s infectious and having the percussionists playing live really helps to create the Brazilian vibe.

Percossa performing on the National Theatre River Stage

The work blends samba, capoeira and contemporary dance. How do you approach these different dance styles?

Mikaela: I think the styles are apparent in the choreography itself. The hips are much freer, the torso and rib cage move very differently to how we would normally move in contemporary dance. Although the work is very fast, there needs to be a fluidity in the movement. It was my job to pass this knowledge on to the dancers, particularly those who have never danced the piece before. There are some acrobatic skills which take a lot of practising, the big dive roll one of the male dancers has to perform over the other dancers for example. It’s all about blending these different elements.

A Linha Curva is a vibrant ensemble piece. What is it like to perform with so many dancers on stage?

Luke: You need eyes in the back of your head, but the team spirit is great. It’s a piece that’s built on stamina so it’s good to feel that everyone is in it together, driving each other through to the end.

Dancers including Pierre Tappon, Luke Ahmet and Jacob O'Connell in A Linha Curva (2016)

Dancers including Pierre Tappon, Luke Ahmet and Jacob O’Connell in A Linha Curva (2016).

Are there any particular moments the audience should look out for?

Kym: There’s a section with a line of women, and we get to interact and have a conversation with each other. It’s really fun to improvise. The conversation is about anything and everything – we change it each time we perform. For me, it’s the most enjoyable part but also the hardest – it’s challenging to find the stamina to dance and talk at the same time!

Adam: My favourite moment is a section called ‘The 5 Guys’. There’s a group of five men and a single female dancer. The men are trying to get a reaction from her and to get her to respond to the way they’re moving which is quite suggestive and flirtatious. Yet she’s having none of it and performs her own solo to put the guys back in their place. We get to improvise a lot here and I enjoy the interaction with the other dancers.

How do you want the audience to feel when watching the dance?

Kym: Like they’re in Brazil, having a party. I think the most important thing is that they enjoy themselves and think ‘wow, I wish I was doing that right now’. For us, everything is really structured, but they shouldn’t see that. They should just want to get up and join the party on stage

Find your nearest upcoming performance of A Linha Curva here

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