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Helen Thom

on 13 October 2017

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Transcript of Rooster

Choreographed by Christopher Bruce
Reasons for studying this work:
Little Red Rooster
Lady Jane
Not Fade Away
As Tears Go By
Paint it Black
Ruby Tuesday
Play With Fire
Sympathy For the Devil
Order of Sections:
Christopher Bruce is one of the practitioners on the recommended list from Pearson
Christopher Bruce's work provides lots of opportunity to discuss political and social themes covered in Dance
the mixture of boys & girls in class will allow for practical exploration of the theme and ideas in the professional work
Originally created for 'Ballet du Grand Theatre on
10th October 1991
First premiered by London Contemporary Dance
Theatre at the Grand Theatre, Leeds in 1992
First performed by Rambert Dance Company in 1994
Costume - Marian Bruce
Lighting - Tina MacHugh

Music by 'The Rolling Stones'
Christopher Bruce
The Rolling Stones
There are 8 specific songs which are used in the piece:
Little Red Rooster / Lady Jane/Not Fade Away/
As Tears Go By/Paint in Black/ Ruby Tuesday/
Play With Fire/ Sympathy For The Devil
Christopher Bruce was born 1945 in Leicester, England. He started studying dance at 11 years of age.
Bruce is typically known for using themes that focus on personal or political issues. He has created abstract pieces but even these have a strong undercurrent of emotion. Bruce uses a wide range of starting points, particularly poetry, literature, music, newspaper articles and world events.
Throughout his career, Christopher has been a strong supporter of Amnesty International's ideas and through his choreography he has voiced his concerns for society, the persecuted and victims of a wide range of human rights abuses.
Other works include:
Ghost Dances, Swansong, Silence is the End of our Song, Cruel Garden, Sargeant Early’s Dream
Rooster is based on the relationship between men and women.
Bruce's intention was to celebrate the music of The Rolling Stones, using the qualities and stories behind the songs to reflect the 'sexual tension' he witnessed when growing up in the 1960's.
The 1960's was a time of great change.The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of some social taboos especially relating to sexism and racism that occurred during this time and so men and women began to take on more equal roles in society
All of these songs were hits for The Rolling Stones between 1964 - 1969, the time when Christopher Bruce was growing up.
Rooster is set on an undecorated stage
The lighting is quite simplistic throughout the whole piece; pools of light illuminate centre stage, or fills the stage, or even picks out individual dancers
The most complex lighting happens in the final piece 'Sympathy For The Devil' with many different cues which match the dancers entrances, exits & movements
A bare stage is often a feature of Bruce's work. He is always aware that dancers need plenty of space in which to perform.
Set & Lighting
reflect the '60's, rather than literally reproducing dress of the 1960's
Men's Costumes: velvet jackets (maroon, brown, black, green, blue), different coloured shirts & ties, black trousers made to look like jeans and black jazz shoes. In 'Ruby Tuesday' the 4 male dancers all wear black jackets.
Women's Costume: costumes are all identical, unlike the mens costume. Simple dresses with a black & red colour-scheme throughout. Initially they wear sleeveless black dresses which fall to just above the knee. The skirt part of the dress has box pleats with red inserts. In 'Paint it Black' & 'Play with Fire', the women wear sleeveless black mini dresses, similar to the style of 'Mary Quant' in the 1960's. In 'Paint it Black' the women wear red neck scarves which they later take off in the piece and the female dancer in 'Play With Fire' has a red feather boa. In 'Ruby Tuesday' the main female dancer wears a red long, full skirted dress with long sleeves.
The men's costumes in the first production of Rooster, were original 1960's garments bought from secondhand shops. The style of the men's costumes were also reminiscent of those worn by Mick Jagger during the 60's.
The Dance
the dance is made up of 8 seperate sections, each performed to a different song. Each one could work easily as a stand alone piece but when put together, help to build up an atomosphere of the swinging 60's and contemporary attitudes
the male dancers perform the most energetic choreography but in some of the sections, the men are put down by the women
although each piece has its own distinctive mood and theme, they are sometimes linked and the end of one piece leads into the next
there are a number of distinctive movement motifs that recur throughout the work:
the 'Rooster Strut'
- a walk in which the men mimic the way a cockerel moves
grooming gestures
- grooming gestures which the male dancers perform repeatedly, i.e. straightening their cuffs, slicking down their hair, adjusting their ties, etc. At times, this is combined with the 'Rooster Strut'.
- one of the jumps performed by the men suggests a chicken trying to fly with stubby wings
everyday gestures
- such as handshaking, seen in 'Sympathy For the Devil'
Repeated use of floorwork
- done by both sexes, rolling and turning on the floor
Repeated 'courtly gestures'
- appears first in 'Lady Jane' but is repeated several times throughout the rest of the work
Little Red Rooster
The dance starts with 5 men stationary onstage. The man down stage right, comes to life and moves into the spotlight with the start of the music. His initial movement is the 'Rooster strut'.
He continues to execute some of the gestures previously mentioned; hair slick, adjusting tie, etc.
One the words 'dogs begin to bark' - he introduces the wing flapping chicken jump. When the words repeat, he acts like a dog begging rolls over onto his back, limbs in the air.
A woman enters upstage and approaches the two men at the back. one by one they reject her.
At the end of the section, the full company comes onto stage walking in very deliberate pathways. The piece end with eight dancers lined up at the back with one couple down stage in the centre.
Lady Jane
6 Dancers - 5 male & 1 female
Full Company - 10 Dancers
This piece is very much like a 'courtly dance' with the focus being on one central couple, although the other dancers do perform at the back.
Only towards the end of the piece do the other dancers fully participate in the dance by joining in a circle.
The central man and his partner 'Lady Jane' perform the minuet-style steps and bow to one another. Words in the song suggest he is to be 'Jane's' servant and so he kneels to provide his knee for her to sit on. Her way of moving and gestures suggest a very modest demeanour.
As the song progresses, a more pushy woman 'Lady Ann' takes 'Jane's' place, but Jane returns for the musical interlude. She is then lifted away to be replaced by 'Sweet Marie'.
At the end of the song, 'Jane returns and the man lifts her into the centre of the group. She then gives the introductory claps for the next number to start.
Not Fade Away
2 Dancers - 1 male & 1female
*This song was originally recorded by Buddy Holly and covered by the Rolling Stones
One couple is left onstage from the previous piece. Their duet is based on social dancing and while the girl uses only the minimum amount of energy throughout, it is the male dancer who uses more and 'shows off'.
At the end, he is carried off by three male dancers while the girl is left onstage. She traces a vertical wave in the air with her hand and as she crouches down the light fades away,
As Tears Go By
8 Dancers - 4 male & 4 female
One man (who appears to be an observer) and one woman, stand outside a group of friends who clearly want nothing to do with them. The other three men and three women make two gender cliques, and occasionally form cross-group partnerships. The women seem intrigued by the man but want nothing to do with the isolated woman. At one point, the outside woman joins the end of a line, but the others stare at her and she drops away giving the image of an individual rejected by the community.
There is a child-like quality to the isolated woman's skips, turns and runs, and a selfishness to her behaviour. The outsider man offers her support at various times, but gets his face slapped for it.
At the end of the song, she is left crouching in the centre and attracts his attention by waving. He pulls her up and carries her off on his shoulder.
Paint it Black
4 Dancers - 1 male & 3 female
This is an energetic solo for the male dancer, supported by the 3 female dancers who move in unison and dance in a similar way to the group 'Pans People' who appeared in the 60's on Top of the Pops. The female dancers routine is repeated with the repetition of the lyrics.

The work so far has been very much concerned with the dominance of men over women however in this section we see how women can dominate and manipulate men.
Ruby Tuesday
5 dancers, though primarily a solo for 1 female dancer, later joined by 4 men
Just as Paint it Black is primarily a solo for a man, this is a solo for a woman though she is joined by 4 men towards the end of the dance. The men perform simple movements in unison or pairs, giving the impression of the standard movements of a conventional vocal backing group.

The choreography for the women is very typical of Bruce's style and is very 'classical in nature. During the dance, the woman plays with her hair and picks something from the ground (flowers?), which echoes gestures from the mad scene in 'Giselle'. She twists her arms and hands with the suggestion of underlying tension.

Towards the end of the dance, the soloist throws herself into the men's arms and they manipulate her in more twists and turns, developing the material she previously performed on her own.
Play with Fire
2 dancers; 1 male & 1 female
This dance is rather similar to the 'Not Fade Away' duet. The dance focus's on social dance but with the male dancer executing the more flamboyant steps.

The introduction of a red feather boa and more varied use of popular dance forms, provides contrast to the earlier piece.
Between 1966 - 1970, Mick Jagger had a highly publicised relationship with singer 'Marianne Faithful'. Lyrics in the song as well as others seem to refer to elements of their relationship.
Sympathy for the Devil
Full Company - 10 dancers
This is a fast and energetic dance with lots of exits and entrances. It features obvious gestures such as an elaborate bow and forefingers on the head to represent the Devil which are initially performed by the main dancer from the first section who appears to represent the Devil. As the words are sung 'Pleased to meet you', courteous bows are executed and on the lyrics 'made damn sure that Pilate washes his hands and sealed his Fate' - a hand gesture is used by rolling hands around each other in a forwards motion.
The final section of this dance is a quick reprise of all previous sections with excerpts of choreography from each. The dance eventually finishes with the main male dancer returning to the Rooster Strut and subsequently adjusting his tie before the lights go to blackout.
The Rolling Stones
The eight songs chosen for the work are well-known; two of them are rhythm & blue standards while the other six are by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was not until the mid-sixties that the Stones started recording their own material.
Jagger and Richards had known each other from Primary School but then went their separate ways. It was a chance meeting on a train which led them to reveal their shared passion for rhythm & blues which brought them back together. All band members were devotees of Black American music and it was by promoting it as a popular form of music which established them in British Rock music.
There were changes in the band line up in the earlier part of their career but for the most part, the band consists of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts.
The band aroused controversy at various times throughout their career for reasons such as their image, risque and aggressive lyrics, drug-taking, hair-do's, relationships, etc.
The 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame' title them as being 'Worlds Greatest Rock and Roll Band'. They have sold an estimated 200 million albums worldwide.
After studying at the Rambert School Christopher Bruce joined Rambert Ballet in 1963, where he quickly became the leading male dancer. The company began to experiment with ballet and modern, specifically the Martha Graham technique. In 1977 he was appointed associate director of the company until 1987. He created over twenty works for the company. Between 1986-91 he acted as associate choreographer also for London Festival Ballet, later ENB, and resident choreographer for Houston Ballet in 1989. Often political in his work, he integrates classical ballet and modern dance, often set against popular music by artists like Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones.
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