The Thread is a brand new dance performance, staged by acclaimed British choreographer Russell Maliphant and set within the explosive electronic music of world-renowned Greek composer, Vangelis. The artistic vision is completed by Michael Hulls’ innovative light design and Mary Katrantzou’s imaginative costumes, along with a cast of 18 dancers on stage.
The project is inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur or “Ariadne’s Thread”.
The Minotaur was a legendary creature born by the union of the queen of Knossos, Pasifae, with the sacred bull that Poseidon had gifted to king Minos. They called him Minotaur because he was a hybrid between a man and a bull (Tauros in Greek). He was so feral, that the king was forced to keep him in the palace’s vaults, which were built by the famed architect Daedalus in the shape of a complicated labyrinth.
The beast was feeding off the victims that Minos brought from Athens to be sacrificed. Theseus, of royal descent, was sent to end this tribute of blood. Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, helped him by giving him a large spool of thread, which she tied at the entrance of the labyrinth and gave Theseus to unravel as he entered deeper into the labyrinth. Thus, after Theseus slayed the beast, he was able to follow the thread back to the exit and find his way out.
Although it seems pretty simple, this story holds great symbolic significance and its various notions remain relevant until today.
The Labyrinth, from an esoteric aspect, is essentially everything that is unknown to the conscious self, a world which seems unapproachable, fearful and unexplored. Ancient Greeks particularly honored this symbol by incorporating it into their religious practices, as well as their everyday culture, especially their dances, since they gave great significance to this form of expression from very early on. Thus, there were many dances inspired by the labyrinth, where the dancers would form snake-like shapes using helix-like moving patterns, symbolizing the journey through the vast corridors of the vast complex structure. Those dances have survived up to this day in evolved forms, and are still performed throughout Greece.
The Minotaur represents our primitive instincts. The side of ourselves that we are too scared to face, hidden deep within our unconscious.
The concept of the Thread can be found in many cultures: from ancient Greek Mythology to the Red Thread of Fate in Asian philosophy. In this particular case, “Ariadne’s Thread” symbolizes that sacred part of our existence, which exists deep inside us and which we share with the universe.
The descent of Theseus into the labyrinth and the murder of the Minotaur is a symbolic initiation process, through which we can come out as winners from the dark world of the unexplored “labyrinths of our minds”. The ultimate goal is actual self-knowledge and reconnection with our divine being, to finally find our way to the light.
The Thread is the line that runs through time, connecting our present to the past.
The Thread is the common cultural elements that connect different regions, despite the distance between them or their differences.
The Thread is essentially the fundamental human values that we all share, no matter our religion, our ethnicity or beliefs. It is a notion which is both personal, timely and relatable, and at the same time universal and timeless.
In a few words, the Thread is the energy which connects us to the Universe.
Russell Maliphant trained at the Royal Ballet School and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet Company before leaving to pursue a career in independent dance. As a dancer he worked with companies such as DV8 Physical Theatre, Michael Clark & Company, Laurie Booth and Rosemary Butcher.
He created his first solo in 1992 and in 1996 he formed Russell Maliphant Company. For the past 20 years he has collaborated closely with the lighting designer Michael Hulls, and in addition to choreographing works for his own company of dancers, has also created works on renowned companies and artists including: Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage, English National Ballet, BalletBoyz, Munich’s Bayerisches Staatsballett and Lyon Opera Ballet.
In 2002 he received the Time Out Live Award for outstanding collaboration for his work Sheer and in 2003 received a South Bank Show Dance Award for the piece Choice. At the end of that year he created Broken Fall for Sylvie Guillem and BalletBoyz which premiered at the Royal Opera House and received an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.
In 2005 Sylvie Guillem invited Maliphant to create an evening of work for them both, culminating in the duet PUSH, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells and received a South Bank Show Award and an Olivier award in 2006. PUSH toured throughout the world until the end of 2014.
Its creation was followed by two artistically diverse collaborations: Cast No Shadow with visual artist Isaac Julien, and Eonnagata, which was created and performed with theatre director Robert Lepage and Sylvie Guillem.
In 2009 Maliphant created part one of Afterlight for In the Spirit of Diaghilev, Sadler’s Wells’ celebration of Les Ballets Russes. This received the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography in 2010 and was also nominated for an Olivier Award. Parts two and three of Afterlight followed and toured as a full evening together with part one.
For his next company work, The Rodin Project, he put together a group of dancers from different dance and movement style backgrounds which included hip hop, popping, climbing and tumbling. It opened at Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris at the end of January 2012 before touring the UK, Europe and the USA and was adapted for film, in collaboration with the photographers/directors Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, re-titled Erebus.
In 2013 he created Fallen for BalletBoyz, which was awarded the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for Best Modern Choreography, and made three pieces for his own company in the evening titled Still Current.
In 2014 Maliphant choreographed Spiral Pass for Munich’s Bayerisches Staatsballett and Second Breath for English National Ballet that was part of their Lest We Forget evening which won of The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2015.
His company evening titled Conceal/Reveal premiered at the end of 2015 and toured through 2016-17. He created a new duet for Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin which opened at Sadler’s Wells at the end of June 2016 and carried out research and development for a future production in 2017. For the past 2 years Maliphant has curated an annual season for The Print Room at The Coronet and for 2018 created and performed in new duet with his long time partner the performer Dana Fouras. Russell Maliphant became an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells in 2005 and was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts from Plymouth University in 2011. He currently holds the position of Artistic Researcher in Dance at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Acknowledged to this day as "the master of electronic music," Vangelis set the bar high for all who followed. And he did it naturally, instinctually – with no conventional training. By the age of four he was creating music on the family piano, by the age of six giving public performances of his compositions … his natural gift coming from a place he likes to call memory … a place he says we can all tap into if we can only remember.
It was also at this young age that his inherent talent for drawing and painting began to emerge, though it would be years before anyone outside his inner circle would get to see his work.
As a teenager Vangelis proved his innate knowledge and expertise for various styles of music, all the while quietly developing his own unique repertoire. And then came the new wave of electronic instruments, just in time it seemed, to accommodate his ever-expanding imagination and innovative experimentations, the results of which often led to his being called "the father of new-age." Over the years, he built studio/laboratories in Paris, London, Athens and Rome and collaborated with revered singers, artists, playwrights, poets, choreographers, filmmakers, environmentalists, athletes, doctors and scientists from all over the world.
And now, with over forty album releases, over twenty movie/TV soundtracks, two ballets, six plays, three choral symphonies, major audio/visual spectaculars and numerous honors, awards and titles to his credit, he continues to expand the horizons of electronic music by combining it with and blurring the line between it and acoustic symphonic music. But no matter what kind of method and instruments he uses, Vangelis will always be known for his strength of melody, his pioneering sound and his emotional depth. This is why his music for the film Chariots Of Fire has won him an Academy Award (Oscar), Conquest Of Paradise still spurs athletes to Olympic victory, and Blade Runner has achieved an almost mythological status.
The same lifelong devotion and dedication Vangelis has for his music, has always been as evident in his visual art. But it was not until recently that he consented to having it shown to the public. Since that day in 2003, he has had ten major exhibitions of his paintings in leading art museums around the world.
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens has proclaimed Vangelis Honorary Doctor/Professor Emeritus for his contribution to culture. Also the University of Patras in Greece, has proclaimed Vangelis Honorary Doctor/Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Physics.
To Vangelis, music and art are sacred, basic forces of the universe, their purpose to elevate, inspire and to heal humankind. This is Vangelis' mission, this and his desire to awaken in all of us, perhaps, that place called memory.
Michael Hulls is a renowned artistic lighting designer with an established reputation as a “choreographer of the light.” For 20 years,he has been working with and been following the same course as the choreographer Russell Maliphant, walking a thin line between light and movement.
He was trained in dance and theater at Dartington College of Arts and was Awarded a bursary by the Arts Council to attend dance lighting workshops with Jennifer Tipton in New York and Paris. Over the last 20 years, Hulls has worked exclusively in dance, particularly with Maliphant.
Their collaborations have won international critical acclaim and many awards. He also worked for many years with Akram Khan (in works for the shadow of man).
Since 2009, he has been collaborating with Well Theatre Sadler, just like Maliphant.
In 2010, his contribution to dance was acknowledged with his entry into the Oxford Dictionary of Dance.
In 2014, he received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
Born in Athens, Mary Katrantzou studied Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design (USA) and graduated with a BA in Textile design and an MA in Fashion from Central Saint Martins (London). Her graduation show in 2008, which featured trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewellery on jersey-bonded dresses, took the industry by storm. After her graduation show, Mary Katrantzou established her namesake brand.
Mary Katrantzou was dubbed "The Queen of Print" by press, a moniker that recognized the enormous influence of her work in the medium. Katrantzou's work changed the face of twenty-first century fashion, inspiring high fashion and high street designers alike. In her designs, Katrantzou plays with clashing aesthetics, mixes technology and craftman- ship and explores opulent innovative embellishments. Mary Katrantzou world is feminine, innovative, fresh and elegant.
Mary Katrantzou has received various awards throughout her career. In 2010 she was award- ed the Swiss Textiles Award in recognition of her pioneering textile treatments; in November 2011, she received the British Fashion Award for Emerging Talent, in February 2012 was awarded Young Designer of the Year at the Elle Style Awards. In 2015, Katrantzou received the Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, was awarded Glamour designer of the year, Harper’s Bazaar Breakthrough Designer as well as the British Fashion Award for New Establishment Designer.
Prestigious collaborations have included capsule ranges with Swarovski, Longchamp, Moncler, Topshop, Cowshed and Adidas Originals. Mary has also collaborated with artist Pablo Bronstein at the ICA, designed costumes for the NYC Ballet and the Paris Opera and her work has been exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Lord Rothschild’s « Creatures and Creations » exhibition at Waddesdon Manor in the UK. In 2018, Dallas Contemporary hosted Mary Katrantzou's first solo exhibition “Mary, Queen of Prints”.
Georgia Iliopoulou was born in Greece. She studied in Athens and Paris, majoring in International Private Law. In 1989 she founded the cultural production company LAVRIS, and became its President and Managing Director. Since then, she has organized major cultural events with prominent artists from all over the world and got involved in the establishment of new cultural institutions in Greece, while at the same time actively promoting Greek culture abroad by participating in numerous festivals all over the world with important representatives of contemporary Greek creation of all genres (music, dance, theatre).
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Tour Dates are to be announced.