October 12 2016: Double helping of dance with Scottish Ballet

The Evening Express, October 12 2016

There’s flying jackets, big joyful movements and lots of whistling.

If you think that sounds like a Disney film you wouldn’t be wrong … but Scottish Ballet’s Sibilo is something very different.

The company’s own Sophie Laplane is choreographing the groundbreaking piece, which is coming to His Majesty’s Theatre tomorrow and Saturday as part of Scottish Ballet’s autumn double-bill.

Sibilo, which means ‘whistle’ in Latin, will be shown alongside the riveting Emergence, by internationally acclaimed choreographer Crystal Pite.

And Paris-born Sophie, who has been a member of the company for 12 years, is demonstrating her talent in both dances.

“At the moment it’s very busy,” admits the 32-year-old. “I’ll be dancing in Crystal Pite’s Emergence and I’m choreographing Sibilo. I really enjoy doing both.”

The Evening Express visited Scottish Ballet’s headquarters in the south of Glasgow to see Sophie’s choreography skills in action. Eight dancers – four men and four women – star in the production of Sibilo, which is set to a music score by Scots DJ and composer Alex Smoke.

“The title gives a lot away, there will be a lot of whistling in the piece,” says Sophie.

“When I was asked to do the piece I asked myself what do I like when I go and see a show?

“And, well, I like to be inspired, I like to be moved, I like to be surprised, I like to have fun, so I knew I wanted all those ingredients to be in the piece.

“As well, my range of music is quite diverse – I like electronic music and 1950s music. I liked the idea of music changing. So I wanted to put all the elements in with the fact I like all these different types of music.

“So I thought: what would be the link? I thought whistling came as a perfect tool to combine them both.”

Sophie’s sense of humour comes through thanks to the unexpected and joyful moves.

A section of the dance, almost exclusively set to whistling, is bound to make audience members grin from ear to ear.

Sophie says her love of creating dance came at school when she was given the chance to compose a one-minute piece weekly.

Then when Scottish Ballet artistic director Christopher Hampson started a workshop for dancers to try out choreography, Sophie jumped at the chance.

She hasn’t looked back. Sophie started with Oxymore, which was six minutes long, then worked on Maze – a 15-minute piece.

“Last year Christopher Hampson gave me another opportunity to present. Maze was a 15-minute piece, it was a curtain raiser. This year he’s commissioned me to do one act, a 30-minute piece.

“It’s another way of putting yourself out there. When you create something you have it in your mind and the dancers deliver it. I like to deliver someone else’s vision as well so it’s good to do both creating and dancing.”

Sophie Laplane
Sophie Laplane

Sophie enjoys directing the dancers and likes it when they give her a new idea.

Among the group dancing Sibilo is principal dancer Sophie Martin and first dancer Thomas Edwards.

“I don’t get stuck on one specific idea,” says Sophie.

“I have an idea, I explain it to the dancers – sometimes their own interpretation of what I’m thinking might lead to something else.

“It might take me in another direction.”

Sophie’s schedule is packed – dancers rehearse various productions every day, including Saturday morning.

Sophie, who has been dancing since she was seven years old, has performed in countless shows, including A Streetcar Named Desire.

She was promoted to first artist in July 2011 and teamed up with graphic designer Eve McConnachie to appear in Aberdeen singer Kathryn Joseph’s music video for The Bird. When Sophie is not dancing or choreographing she winds down by watching films and going for long walks.

“With my partner we try and get out to Loch Lomond and enjoy the fresh air,” she says.

But today she is focusing on Sibilo as it gets ready to tour.

“I can’t wait to visit Aberdeen,” says Sophie. We always enjoy going there.”

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