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‘The dancers will challenge, delight and make you laugh’, Hetain Patel on Let’s Talk About Dis

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Tanja Erhart in Let’s Talk About Dis. Choreographed by Hetain Patel. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

Do any comments from friends, family, critics, the public from the first tour of Let’s Talk About Dis stick in your mind? What did they say and why are they memorable? Have these comments played on your mind as you re-stage the piece?

The thing that particularly stuck with me, is that audiences felt like the piece was really owned by the dancers. The dancers gave a lot of themselves to this process and I’m thrilled that this translates into a work that was reflected as being funny, sophisticated and refreshing, particularly with regards to the identity politics at play. At the same time, I was told often that the piece felt very much like my work, which I’m relieved about. I initially had an anxiety that this wouldn’t be the case as this is the first live work I’ve created that does not begin with my autobiography, and that I do not perform in.

The making process became quite an intimate sharing space between us all, which was essential to the final work. The thing that played on my mind at the prospect of restaging the piece with two new dancers was simply that we wouldn’t have much time together to do it. I think we made a strong work to start with though and in a way that replacing dancers doesn’t mean we have to start from scratch.

Given that so much of Let’s Talk About Dis was developed with the original cast and delved so deep into their personal feelings, attitudes and behaviours, what do you think the impact of having two new Company dancers, Joel and Megan, in this re-staged version will be on the way you direct the piece, the cast’s response, the audience’s response?

In some ways I’m not too worried because the existing cast knows the work so well that the work has a clear direction and reason for being that I’m confident will transfer to Joel and Megan. The cast is made up of such welcoming, open and curious people that I didn’t have any worries about them responding maturely and creatively to the new challenge.

Joel and Megan’s parts will be reworked slightly to fit their personalities, but not so much that it alters the direction of the piece. My directing therefore is still towards the shape of the original. As with all the other dancers I try to be as clear as possible about why I’ve made the decisions I make, why it is important for the work and what the intention is.

As for the audience, it’s difficult to know whether they would feel the cast change too much unless they saw the piece recently or know the cast well. Though I could be wrong about that, let’s see!

Have any challenges arisen that you wouldn’t have expected in this re-staging? How have you dealt with them?

Thankfully nothing unexpected, but I had thought about it a lot before we began.

If someone has already seen this work, why should they come again?

The dancers have grown into and taken ownership of the work more than I could have ever hoped. With every performance, the rhythm, confidence, casualness, humour and depth that matures with them is very exciting to see. This can only really happen with the benefit of touring the work, and I’m confident that the audience will enjoy this.

If they haven’t seen it before, why do they need to see it?

The dancers will challenge, delight and make you laugh.

Find out more about Hetain Patel and his work on his website.

Candoco – A Double Bill
Blackpool Grand Theatre
Wednesday 21 October 2015

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