Spring Into Motion: interview with Stina Quagebeur

Go to photo Madison Keesler and James Streeter in rehearsals for one of Stina Quagebeur's new pieces for English National Ballet's Spring Into Motion Gala. Photo: © Laurent Liotardo

On Monday 21 March, we’re thrilled to be returning to The Dorchester, Park Lane for our annual Gala – this year themed Spring Into Motion – a glamorous evening of dinner and special performances all with the aim to support our work. This year’s gala will include two new dance pieces created exclusively for the gala by one of our dancers, Stina Quagebeur. We caught up with her to find out more.

Tell us more about the pieces you’re creating for the gala.

I’m creating two pieces, both set to music by violinist Nigel Kennedy, from his album Recital. I have always been a big fan of his music and this particular album has so much personality. After being commissioned to choreograph for the gala, they wanted something different, something edgy and Nigel Kennedy for me completely fitted that bill.

The first piece is a duet, a girl and a boy walking around an art gallery, they meet awkwardly and something begins to happen. They take you on a journey from pedestrian movements, unfolding into dance and ending back in the gallery. This piece has been a real journey to work on. It’s James Streeter and Madison Keesler, two expressive artists, who really bring this piece alive.

The second piece is to the track called Vivace. Nigel Kennedy and his colleagues start by playing Bach’s Violin Concerto for 2 violins but things soon change. They improvise and it gets rather wild, it turns into fireworks. The music is so upbeat, it gets faster and faster and I want the choreography to reflect this. It’s full of steps and at speed, we shall yet see how it ends. But the aim is to get the Dorchester Ballroom buzzing.

We’ve heard the stage will be in the middle of the Dorchester ballroom floor with people all around it. How has that impacted your choreography?

I wanted something different. I’ve never been a big fan of a small square stage pretending to be a big one. I originally discussed the idea with the team working on the Gala, and it was approved. I want the dancers to be able to go on and off the stage smoothly, to make it really part of the choreography. We’ll see how it works on the day! We are rehearsing with some tape on the floor at the moment, they are quite comfortable dancing on the edge but on the day it will be a 60cm drop!

How are rehearsals going?

It’s great to work with my colleagues. Madison Keesler and James Streeter are the dancers for the duet, and I have a pretty fantastic cast for the second piece: Cesar Corrales, Crystal Costa, James Forbat, Katja Khaniukova, Guilherme Menezes, Vitor Menezes, Laurretta Summerscales and Max Westwell.

Dancing, choreographing – how do you fit it all in?!!

Well let’s say the month ahead is going to be very busy! As well as choreographing those two pieces, I am rehearsing She Said, and I am also choreographing a piece for 36 students, who will perform a curtain raiser [as part of Dance Journeys] at Sadler’s Wells for the She Said triple bill. So my time is quite precious these days!

My mornings are taken up by warming up and focusing myself as a dancer for ballet class. Afternoons by rehearsals, both for She Said and for my pieces. That only leaves me the evening to prepare for the next day. When I’m choreographing my brain never stops: I keep listening to the music, I try steps, I think of different combinations and ideas… The challenge is to get what’s in my head out to 10 dancers. It’s sometimes your way of communicating that changes the whole feel of a piece and you have to keep searching to get there. It’s non-stop at the moment but it’s what I love to do and every experience is another opportunity to develop, I couldn’t turn it down.

Tables and individual seats are still available for the Spring Into Motion Gala. Tickets include a fabulous Laurent Perrier champagne reception, a delicious three course meal, exclusive ballet performances and the opportunity to bid in our live and silent auctions.