'Reverie' by Isabella Gasparini, inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf.
'Reverie was inspired by Virginia Woolf, her artistic life and struggles. I was going through a hard time, coming to terms with the loss of a dear friend (also an artist), and I believe that influenced me in choosing to represent how work plays a fundamental role in an artist’s life, how every artist faces doubts and fears but always gains an insight when overcoming them and a greater understanding of him/herself. I believe that writing was Woolf’s way of coping with the world and with who she was, a way of making sense of it all, and this is what I try to express in this piece. It was my first attempt at choreography, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know if it will come across well but there are narrative elements in it, which naturally appeared. I guess my love for story-telling comes across in my work a lot.
'I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and joined The Royal Ballet in January 2014. Ever since I was little, I’ve been passionate about dance but also books and writing. It is always so magical to see a written story being retold through dance. In my first season with The Royal Ballet I witnessed the creative process of The Winter’s Tale. It was amazing how Christopher Wheeldon - the company’s Artistic Associate - produced his adaptation of this Shakespearean romance and retold a dialogue in such a powerful and emotional way through choreographic moves and body language. I was only an understudy at the time (a ‘cover’ as we say) but one of the dancers got injured so I got thrown in the day before the big premiere and ended up doing every show! It was such a memorable experience. I was nervous about not messing up the steps but thrilled to be involved in the birth of a masterpiece. The ballet is considered today an acclaimed modern classic, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how Wheeldon’s next full-length ballet will turn out. Like Water for Chocolate is based on a Mexican novel of the same name written by Laura Esquivel, and we have already started working on the first scenes and getting a sense of what the characters are about. We actually had a meeting on Zoom with the writer and she seemed so excited about having her novel turn into a ballet.
'Ballets are very often based on works of literature or inspired by a prose passage or poem, and I like familiarising myself with them and knowing how to best portray the characters on stage. My favourite ballets are the narrative kind, where I try to let go of the steps and technical challenges of dancing and really become my role. Focusing on telling the story also helps me feel less anxious about performing. It is how I get the greatest satisfaction in my work.
'Ballets that are based on literary works can also be more abstract. In my second season, resident choreographer Wayne McGregor created Woolf Works inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf, where each act reproduces the emotions and themes explored in three of her novels: Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves. It is a different kind of experience. Instead of focusing on plot and narrative, the choreographer was motivated by the writer’s artistic vision or a concept in the book and translated that into movement. I took part in the final act and was very moved by Max Richter’s score with the image of waves being projected in the background and the fluidity of the dance. I believe that dance can evoke the same deep emotions as words on paper.
'I am about to start rehearsing for Giselle, another beautiful classic and the very first ballet I performed with The Royal Ballet. We are often rehearsing several productions at once, but new ballets take the most rehearsal time. I have also just made a guest appearance with Northern Ballet as Madame de Tourvel in David Nixon’s Dangerous Liaisons.
'We open the season with Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet, and at present we are rehearsing for its revival. We have also been working on The Dante Project, a new ballet by Wayne McGregor presented as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations of the poet’s death. Based on The Divine Comedy and Dante’s epic journey through the afterlife, it will premiere this October.
'Bringing a story to life always involves the work of many experts; choreographers, dancers, make-up artists, set and costume designers, lighting designers, film directors, and for storytelling ballets, the help of a dramaturg is often required. Our productions are great artistic collaborations.'
'In terms of studies, I am starting a new English Literature module this October. It will be a step up from last year as I’m going onto level 3. I’m very excited to be studying a wide range of post-1800 texts and writers, including Virginia Woolf. As I was going through some of the preparatory material online, I came across a quote from Virginia Woolf’s Moments of Being that depicts exactly what I try to portray in Reverie:
"We are the words;
We are the music;
We are the thing itself."
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