This week we had the pleasure of talking with Andrew McNicol about his upcoming world premiere with BalletX in Summer Series 2018 at The Wilma Theater, July 11-22. Andrew was chosen from a competitive pool of national and international applicants to serve as the 2018 Choreographic Fellow under this year’s mentor Matthew Neenan. McNicol has created work for The London Olympics, The New York Choreographic Institute, and The Royal Ballet of Flanders. He is described as “talented beyond his years” by Ballet News.
You’ve choreographed many works for British and European companies. How does the experience of working with an American company compare?
In my experience there is an energy, dynamic and ‘can do’ approach that I find very appealing here.
The dance history in the UK has strong roots in narrative, theatre, storytelling, and stylistically has a different emphasis. Here in the states I often think of the abstract and neoclassical movement that has produced some of the greatest landmark masterpieces. Of course there are crossovers, but I think it makes for a different sensibility and reference point. I’m interested in drawing on both approaches.
What is your favorite thing about Philadelphia so far?
There’s a great food scene here and everything is walkable.
How has your own upbringing and classical ballet education influenced your work and style today?
My parents gave me tremendous support to follow my curiosity, love, and obsession with dance even though its not a world they knew.
I believed early on that it was important to have a range of influences. Throughout my training I was able to experience many different styles and teaching philosophies. I am a product of that mix.
Why is Mozart’s Requiem a perfect piece of music for this project and what initially drew your attention to it?
Mozart’s Requiem is the greatest music I know, and I wanted to delve into his world and understand more. He was able to reveal the deepest emotions of human experiences and give expression to the essential matters of life, love, and one of our often greatest fears, death.
I felt that because of the support offered by the Fellowship this was the right moment and environment to work with this music that I care so deeply about.
In three words, describe your experience working with Matthew Neenan so far.
Generous, Supportive, Honest
What are some of the most important things you have learned from him as a mentor?
Matthew has an incredible eye and way of sharing his perspective that is generous and sensitive to where I’m at in the process.
The quality and timing of his questions and feedback is supporting me to pull out the best in both myself as a choreographer and the work.
From which sources do you draw your inspiration?
Music continues to be a driving force in my work and often motivates me to move and create a particular piece. People fascinate me and I try to draw on their specific qualities, temperaments, and physicalities. Nature, the beauty, the mystery, I’m in awe.
How does this piece engage with the audience? What would you like to communicate to viewers?
Requiem is a lament on loss and remembrance for the dead. That is something we can all relate to in some way. My intention is to create layers of meaning and offer multiple ways to connect with the work in the most inclusive way I can.
As an audience member I want the work to take my breath away and that’s the experience I hope to create for my audiences too – a moment or image that resonates for a long time after the curtain comes down.
What does contemporary ballet mean to you?
Dance is a living, breathing art form. It’s ephemeral, and it’s constantly evolving, and at its best can be awe-inspiring beyond measure. It’s a whole world to me.
I believe our responsibility as artists is to create new traditions and experiences that inspire, resonate, and reflect the world we live in today.
Don’t miss Andrew’s upcoming World Premiere at BalletX Summer Series 2018 at The Wilma Theater, July 11-22.
Visit http://www.andrewmcnicol.co.uk/home to learn more about his work.