Posted on April 04, 2018
Fleur Darkin, Scottish Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, on Velvet Petal
I'm always invigorated by my time at festivals and each year seeing talented performers come of age during a celebration of artistic endeavour is very special. It's this transformation that fascinated me when I read Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, which tells the story of how she and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe found themselves making art in 1980s New York, surrounded by drag queens, rock stars and Factory Girls. Together they were working to forge their own identity in a heady atmosphere surrounded by people doing the same.
This idea of metamorphosis and how we find the confidence to create became the starting point for Scottish Dance Theatre's latest production, Velvet Petal. As a choreographer I wanted to capture that feeling of flux between confidence and shyness and how we steel ourselves to change (life takes guts!). How tough girls and pretty boys present themselves to the world, changing themselves and their clothes; never quite wearing the right outfit.
Our route into that place of self expression is the music we play to ourselves, when nobody is listening. Like so many of us, I listened to a lot of music in my bedroom and those artists became guides. The show has a soundtrack featuring LCD Sound System, Four Tet, Leonard Cohen and The Cure. There's something about music that takes the audience on the dancers' journey and makes us think about how we change ourselves. Through researching this piece we found out that caterpillars choose the timing of their metamorphosis. Biologically, they must change, but they have some control over the timing and tend to wait until their environment is most supportive. For humans it seems change is a private act. The theatre is our trusted environment and Velvet Petal becomes something sexy, with heart, fragility and a sense of purpose.
For me, Velvet Petal is a reminder that we can continually recreate ourselves, that it's OK to be vulnerable and that change is empowering. It's six years since I joined Scottish Dance Theatre as Artistic Director and as a company we embrace change, outside talents and influences while still being grounded by our roots in the local community, making work that those new or not new to dance can enjoy. I can't wait to see what audiences think of the full-length show.
Trinity Fyfe Hall
May 16 – 18, 7pm