What inspired you to make a ballet about Casanova?
I think on the surface it's immediately a title that lends itself well to ballet. Set against the backdrop of 18th century Venice and Europe, the visuals are alluring and fascinating. It has room for large corps numbers as well as lots of truly interesting characters - and of course plenty of room for intimacy. What is inspiring to me is that it is a real story of a real man, an original ballet based on fact. I also feel we can bring a new perspective to Casanova through our medium.
How much did you know about Casanova and his life before creating the ballet?
At the start like most, I just knew him as the serial womaniser: the Libertine. I had seen various films and thought I had an idea of what he was like. Pretty simple right - just a guy who had a lot of sex. So to answer your question, not much - as I would soon find out…
Small aircraft crashes on airfield at Old Warden Aerodrome near Bedford
10 things to do in Bedford this Bank Holiday weekend
Who remembers how the Harpur Centre used to look? We take a peek around former Bedford Modern
Writer Tom Hindle cruises to Waterstone's Book of the Month with A Fatal Crossing
Walking in a Winter Wonderland as Woburn Forest gets huge festive makeover
How does it feel to be choreographing a full length ballet for Northern?
I am truly delighted to be doing my first full-length with Northern Ballet - it feels full circle. David Nixon (OBE, Artistic Director at Northern Ballet) was the one who guided me into choreographing and has been very supportive of my career.
What has it been like working with the collaborators for Casanova?
It's been an absolute dream; they are all so incredibly talented and open. It has been a huge privilege to share their creative processes and I've learnt a great deal from each one. Good honest collaboration is at the heart of this work.
Can you tell us about the look of the ballet – the sets and costumes?
I'm really excited about the world and the vision we are bringing to the stage. I believe it offers a fresh perspective, honouring the 18th century whilst managing to give it a modern edge. The set is very imposing, grand and versatile. The costumes are beautifully designed and very cleverly deconstruct the period to allow the bodies and the classical lines to be seen.
How about the music?
For the music, I was very keen to do something not typically 18th century or necessarily strictly classical, but to marry the worlds in a different way. I commissioned film and TV composer Kerry Muzzey and the resulting sound is a gorgeous mix of melodies, clear narrative themes and cinematic atmosphere - it's an absolute pleasure to create to.
You retired from dancing in 2015. What has the transition been like from dancer to choreographer?
It seems to have flown quite naturally; they are in a lot of ways the same world, so you know the language. The hard thing for me was solitude and finding myself spending the majority of my day working alone - quite a change from being surrounded by 40 odd colourful characters. Also when something that has been your identity and your life for so long changes and your daily routine is no longer the one you have practiced for most of your life, you question who you are now. It’s been a big learning curve.
Casanova can be seen from Wednesday April 19 to Saturday April 22. For more details or to book tickets call the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes.