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Shostakovich Symphony No.10: Royston Maldoom discusses his choreography

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In November 2008 choreographer Royston Maldoom staged a community dance project for young performers set to Shostakovich's Symphony No.10 at the Royal Albert Hall in London accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.  This followed a similarly successful dancework in Berlin based around Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. In this video interview Royston Maldoom discusses the London project, his response to Shostakovich's music, and how he turned the symphony into a dancework.

"Inspired by the music and by Shostakovich's own battle for survival under Stalin's regime, Maldoom has choreographed an epic hymn to the Russian people, and to the power of art and individuality in a culture of oppression.

"At the core of the production is a beautifully distilled portrait of Shostakovich's precarious career. The crowds circling the composer during his gilded early years raise their hands to him, their fluttering fingers like a joyous swarm of butterflies. Once he is disgraced, the same crowds are ranked against him, their arms folded and heads averted as they are drilled by Stalin's police.

"Woven around the composer's narrative is a larger story of Russian history: tableaux of model Soviet workers, fists clenched, flags waving, are set against groups of tiny children playing - straggling remnants of freedom. In the score's third movement, the haunting theme of hope is given terrible poignancy as the dancers, lying face down, slowly lift their eyes to the audience, peering warily over decades of darkness.

"Many of the children and teenagers on stage have little or no formal training, yet it almost never shows. Maldoom has adroitly stripped his vocabulary back to expressive basics of rhythm and gesture, and he shows a kind of genius in getting the young people to work together en masse. The timings and the patterns of his ensemble dances are very sophisticated - this is grown-up choreography."

The Guardian

This video was produced by the London Symphony Orchestra and appears on with their permission.

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