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Watch: Uncovering the beauty of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein through music and dance

The choreographer, Principal dancers and the composer Lowell Liebermann discuss their part in creating a new work.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

18 May 2016 at 12.05pm | Comment on this article

Liam Scarlett’s new production of Frankenstein is English choreographer’s first full-length narrative piece for The Royal Ballet.

In this film, broadcast as part of the live cinema relay on 18 May 2016, Scarlett explains how he wanted his interpretation of the infamous Gothic story to stick closely to Mary Shelley’s novel:

'The stereotype with Frankenstein has gone so far from the book,' he says. 'What I really want to do is bring it back to how Shelley saw it.'

Royal Ballet Principals Laura Morera and Federico Bonelli have loved working on a new commission with Scarlett:

'I’ve been in the Royal Ballet for 21 years – this is the highlight of my career,' says Morera, who dances the role of Frankenstein’s adopted sister Elizabeth Lavenza.

'I feel really natural in his work. It’s the most free I ever feel because he just seems to get me as a dancer.'

Bonelli, who danced the title role in the cinema relay, agrees there is something uniquely special about being involved in bringing a new work to life:

'You want to have a new work created on you. Of course you want to do the classics but you want to dance the ones that will be known as classics in the future.'

Fellow Principal Steven McRae, who danced the role of the Creature in the cinema relay is thankful to American composer Lowell Liebermann's score for its role in driving the dancing forward:

'One of the major telling points of a Liam Scarlett ballet is the musicality,' he says. 'The music drives the movement, the thought process, and the dramatics. Everything. The music is the starting point.'

Liam Scarlett and Lowell Liebermann on the score:

When Scarlett first approached Lowell Liebermann to compose the score for Frankenstein, the American composer thought he would be creating a soundtrack for a gory horror ballet.

But Scarlett explains his interpretation of Mary Shelley’s tale would draw more on the heart and soul of the novel.

‘I needed it to retain the beauty that Mary Shelley retains on the page, this isn’t a horror story in the sense of a Hitchcock film. It’s an intimate journey for the audience.'

Scarlett says he was struck by the empathy he felt for the Creature whilst reading the book, and asked Liebermann to create a musical theme to help bring audiences closer to him.

'In a way the monster’s music should be much more beautiful than anyone else’s,' says the American composer. Liam has brought it much more to a human level so I wanted to reflect that.'

Scarlett waited until the score was complete before he began to choreograph the work with dancers of The Royal Ballet.

As this is a new score, the ballet is built around the music. A process, Liebermann reflects, was magical to watch:

'Liam is a choreographer that works very much from the music – I didn’t know what this would be like before we started.'

'He's extraordinarily sensitive to the music – it’s really thrilling to see what he’s doing.'

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

Liam Scarlett’s new production Frankenstein was relayed live to cinemas around the world on 18 May 2016.

The next live relay of the 2015/16 Season will be The Royal Opera's new production of Werther on 27 June 2016. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

18 May 2016 at 12.05pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Ballet, by Liam Scarlett, Frankenstein!!, Live Cinema, Lowell Liebermann, Production, relay

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