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Critical Dance Goes Backstage A Daily Diary

July 1, 2002


By Stuart Sweeney


PNB have already been in town for a couple of days. The production team arrived on Friday and the dancers and other staff members on Saturday morning. The first two days were mainly taken up with sight-seeing and the London Eye has won some more devotees, as well as the more traditional spots like Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus. And of course there is "essential" shopping to be done in Oxford Street.

Today the Company moved into gear with class at 2 p.m. and then rehearsals scheduled until 10 p.m. Tomorrow is the first night of Silver Lining, with class in the morning and a dress rehearsal in the afternoon. Margo Spellman, the PNB Marketing Manager, told me that she is delighted with Sadler's Wells. When the company was here before, the theatre was not long open and there was still much construction work to be finished off. There was dust everywhere and in general it was an uncomfortable experience for the dancers. I'll never forget the heroism of the Rambert dancers, who were the first in the new theatre, having to rehearse in face masks to try to keep the dust out and with industrial calor gas fan heaters at the side of the stage to take some of the moisture out of the air. Today, one of the PNB dancers said that they were very impressed with the dressing rooms and the conditions backstage generally at Sadler's, which is good to hear.

Margo had a nice story about the innumerable boxes that contain all that the Company needs for the London visit. One of her colleagues came across an unmarked box filled with umbrellas and told Margot that someone had been thoughtful to make provision in case of heavy rain. "Don't you dare touch them," she responded quickly, "They're props for Silver Lining!"

Monday was also the day for Critical Dance to interview a few more of the dancers and these will be appearing on the site during the week. Everyone I came into contact with was very affable and two people commented on the family atmosphere within the Company and the supportive ethos which starts at the top with Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, the two Artistic Directors.

Everyone is very sad that Principal Julie Tobiason has broken a bone in her foot and is unable to make what would have been her retirement performances. But one dancer told me that Julie, who is very resilient, is getting married soon and was already talking about how she is going to decorate the surgical boot that she will still be wearing.

All the PNB dancers are clearly excited to be here and with the chance to show what they can do to London audiences. It promises to be a fine week of dance.


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