An Imposter Wears the Crown
3 October 2013
Ruth Seager’s Ambitions Dance Company won first place in the choreographic section of this year’s Classical Greek Dance Festival Finals
I am a first year student studying Musical Theatre at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. My introduction to the performing arts began at the age of four when I watched my sister, Anna, perform Classical Greek Dance with our local dance school, the Stretton School of Dance and Drama. Then began a long association with the dance school where, over a period of 14 years, I attained many of my grades in Classical Greek Dance. I was greatly inspired by the former Principal of the Stretton School of Dance and Drama, the late Mrs Diana Griffiths, who was taught by the founder of Classical Greek, Ruby Ginner. During the latter years, I was taught by Mrs Catherine Griffiths and Mrs Sarah-Jayne Blackwell.
My passion for this style of dance developed further when I choreographed a Classical Greek Dance duet with my dance partner, Rosalind Ford. This spurred me on to explore and create opportunities that would both inspire and challenge me.
One of these opportunities presented itself in 2008 when I was selected for a Birmingham-based project called Making Choreographers which, in 2010, led to my selection as choreographer and artistic director of a five minute curtain raiser for Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre. This was, for me, five truly unforgettable minutes! In 2011, I was selected for a scheme called Young Creatives – Youth Dance England and choreographed and performed a dance solo in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House. During this time I started my own dance group, Ambitions Dance Company,which regularly choreographs and performs dances from a variety of genres which are shared with local audiences.
Last year, I was offered a place on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course at Trinity Laban, which began in September 2012. However, it wasn’t long before I was looking for my next challenge. Fortunately, I was offered a scholarship from the Leverhulme Trust that enabled me to finance my own project. My aim was to create a piece for entry into the choreographic section of the Classical Greek Dance Festival. During Christmas 2012, I collaborated with writer, Benjamin Seager, who assisted me in shaping my ideas into a full-length narrative. The music I chose was the score from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. With this in place, all I had to do was to find some dancers to make the dream a reality!
The initial stage of recruiting the dancers was challenging, as Classical Greek is a lesserknown dance style. I felt that Contemporary dancers would be well suited to the piece, as there are elements of the Cunningham and Graham technique that are similar to those in Classical Greek Dance. I discussed my ideas with Laban dance student, Cecilia Watts, and she spoke to other Contemporary dancers who were intrigued by this project.
During the first meeting and rehearsal with the dancers, I explained the origins of Classical Greek Dance, presented my ideas and planned a rehearsal schedule leading up to the dance heats. I also led a workshop which would enable me to understand the way in which the dancers’ bodies moved and explored areas within this technique that they found challenging, including turnout and body turn. This session also gave me the opportunity to cast the piece and allocate roles to individuals.
I felt it was essential that the dancers understood their characters so, using the skills I had acquired from my classes at Trinity, I led a workshop where I focused on Stanislavsky’s acting technique, where the dancers were asked to find objectives within the piece. This resulted in a performance that had depth, intention and, above all, one that told a story. The dancers found this to be an extremely helpful experience, which enabled them to access their characters and give a more authentic performance.
Following a final dress rehearsal, Ambitions Dance Company was ready to take to the stage at the Regional Heats on Sunday 10th March with An Imposter Wears the Crown. To have the opportunity to tell this story-through-dance was exciting enough. Imagine, then, our feelings when the dance was selected to go forward to the Finals on Sunday 12th May!
The day of the Finals arrived and we felt extremely privileged to be part of such a special event. There were four entries in the choreographic section, all with very different stories to tell. Whatever the outcome, it was now time to enjoy the dance and make the very most of this occasion. This they did and Ambitions Dance Company were awarded first place.
It is wonderful that Classical Greek Dance is truly alive and well and going from strength-to-strength. My hope is to continue devising and choreographing and to inspire and motivate others to explore this unique dance style, whilst encouraging them, simply, to enjoy the experience. It was an amazing day and I would like to thank the dancers for their hard work and dedication and for making a dream come true!
Photo caption: (Back row L to R:) Kenny Shim, George Jennings, Rosalind Ford, Naomi Wilkinson, Ruth Seager, Sebastian Abarbanell, Adam Lawrenson. (Bottom row L to R:) Cecilia Watts, Kathleen Nance, Anna Spink, Nadjeschda Schaefer, Magan Clemants
Photo credit: Donald Seager