Lizzie Gough is working as resident director to Kate Prince on Message In a Bottle, coming to the Sydney Opera House this October. “What draws me to the style of dance theatre is the storytelling,” says Gough. “That’s the wonderful thing Kate brings to the work.”
ZooNation – The Kate Prince Company, creates dance theatre works influenced by hip hop culture and style. Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells, Prince has created work for major theatres, television and events around the world. Her latest work, Message In A Bottle, is a Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music coproduction. Gough first worked with Prince on the first UK season of So You Think You Can Dance 12 years ago when she won third place. “Kate did a piece, and I really liked working with her,” Gough recalls. “She bought me into ZooNation.”
Gough has had an extensive career spanning theatre, TV and events. “Before every show, we have a circle that everybody puts a word in, and I always say to have fun, and everybody laughs. It just makes me feel good. I’ve never seen it as a job; I appreciate it every day. I think my career has been so diverse because I am open to discover new things and keep learning. Our industry is always evolving. I am not precious if things happen.”
Gough takes inspiration from everyday movement, style and moments. “It’s a bit cheesy,” she says, “but I get inspired by people I meet on the street, because they are a character and you can find ways of moving like them.”
Message In A Bottle is based on stories of refugee and displacement experiences. With a diverse cast from around the world, it is a highly athletic work that brings together ballet, contemporary dance, breakdance, locking and popping. “The cast are very diverse in many sense,” says Gough. “They’ve come from all around the world; they’ve all got different dance backgrounds, too, based on breaking, crumping, ballet. It can be challenging because everyone is so different. We want to show we are as one; we do work together.”
Prince cooperated with musician Sting to set Message In a Bottle to his music. “Some people come for the music, some for the dance, some for a night out,” Gough says. “Every time people leave, I see they have gone through a lot of emotions. They don’t expect it. What they get out of it is a whole other level. It is based on true events, and so it brings that authenticity.”
She adds, “Every show I do, this is the hardest show ever. Then the next show, I am like, ‘This is the hardest show ever.’ Whether you are lead or ensemble, in Message In A Bottle, we have an alternative casting, and we have people who are leads, but we rotate the roles.” The rotating cast takes a lot of rehearsal. “In the beginning, everyone was learning two or three roles. Once a week, we have company class and thirds rehearsals. It is really good to keep the show alive and really push each other.”
Gough notes, “Company class is ballet when (Associate Choreographer) Lukas McFarlane takes it. I tend to do cardio – fitness. I am going to try and do some new things on the next tour, give every company member an opportunity if they want to lead a class. They can take a class in their style.”
To find out more about Message in a Bottle and ZooNation, visit zoonation.co.uk, or www.sydneyoperahouse.com/birthday-festival/message-bottle.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.