I have always enjoyed performances which end with something more than just a formal curtain call, so wanted to end our production with a dance; the fact that Brecht’s original play leads towards a joyful celebration made this both easy and appropriate. Not all the cast were entirely in favour of this: Isaq, who plays both the Storyteller and the character of Azdak, was adamant that he was not a dancer. I was equally adamant that he had no choice; Isaq might not be keen on dancing, but Azdak was positively enthusiastic.
I asked Eirene, the school receptionist, but also a keen dancer, to be our choreographer. At the beginning, she taught some basic steps… though like most dancers she did find it difficult to keep it slow and simple, and was soon whirling round the dance floor, which had our cast dropping out in droves, as the music sped up. As, inevitably, it did – we were using the famous soundtrack from Zorba the Greek, probably the most famous piece of Greek music ever. But then she took a more measured approach, teaching some manageable steps and establishing a basic structure. By and large, the actors stayed with it, and could be seen to be making progress. I was pleased with their perseverance.
We are far from having a complete dance after this first rehearsal, but I never imagined we would. We established a shape, and a sense of progression, and something that the musicians would be able to work with (though whether James and Iman can recreate a bouzouki on accordion and guitar, let alone one that builds in pace and intensity, is another matter.) Eirene was keen to continue the next day, but I told her I needed to rehearse. The compromise was that she would return the following day at the end of the rehearsal, and try to move us forward, once she had had the time to plan the dance more thoroughly.