Go to the alexander-the-great.co.uk homepage
Talk about the Oliver Stone movie "Alexander"
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

interview with the film's dance choreographer!

Post new topic   Reply to topic    alexander-the-great.co.uk Forum Index -> Discuss 'Alexander' the Movie - Pre-Release
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 21 Nov 2003
Posts: 54

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:09 am    Post subject: interview with the film's dance choreographer! Reply with quote

Google is indeed amazing. Here is an interview with Piers Gielgud, a famous choreographer, who choreographed all the dancing in Alexander. This comes from the Dance On Film site, at


This is a great interview! It reveals a bit about the movie, as well as casting and Stone's vision over all:

Carol: You have Choreographed two feature films which are due out in 2004 - Alexander for Oliver Stone, and Being Julia for Istvan Szabo. What do you think you bring to those projects from a choreography point of view?

Piers: Until I see the finished films it will be hard to see if I've done anything for either of them. I try to avoid looking at rushes to avoid the disappointment of seeing my work cut to ribbons in the final version, which it usually is.

There is only a small amount of dancing in Being Julia (waltzing at a garden party) and I think Istvan (Szabo) thought he wouldn't need a choreographer, so I was brought in at the last minute when he realised he did (I'd like to see someone try and make a film without a director!). I had to teach two of the principals - Jeremy Irons and Leigh Lawson - how to waltz convincingly. They worked hard and both had superb partners (west end dancers Lauren Brooke and Frankie Wedge) so I thought they both looked quite convincing. I think I did a reasonably good job and I hope it gives something to the finished film.

Alexander, by complete contrast, has a lot of dancing in it. Oliver (Stone) decided to emphasise two of the film's pivotal scenes with big dance numbers, so the choreography was substantially more significant than it had been for (Being) Julia. In addition there was a lot of background dancing to deal with. I only worked on Julia for 1 week, but I worked on Alexander from the beginning of July to the end of December 2003. I had to do a lot of research for authenticity (dancing from Macedonia, and around the vast Persian Empire back in 350BC - I'm basically a ballet man but for film you must be able to do anything you are asked). I also had to collaborate closely with the 'Oscar winning' composer

Vangelis who is fabulous to work with. All his music for Alexander is incredible. I think it will eclipse anything he has done before. Working with him on the music for the dances was a unique and altogether mind blowing experience. Oliver is also a dream to work with. He knows exactly what he wants and how to go about getting it. It's a true collaboration. He works very closely with you and he values your opinion and input. He also has an uncanny method of making you want to do your very best for him. The script is extraordinary (remember that Oliver's first Oscar was for screenwriting) and the fact that he has placed so much emphasis on dance, leads me to believe that the choreography could make a significant contribution to the finished film. I certainly think that Oliver got some of my very best work from me.

Carol: Alexander has a huge dance cast. How long did it take to get everyone together before shooting?

Piers: It felt like forever! My first job on joining the production was to help the Casting Director, Lucinda Syson, find the two main characters that dance. Most difficult to find was the eunuch Bagoas who had to be an androgynous 17-year-old boy of extraordinary beauty, as well as being an amazing dancer, who could act. Lucinda had been searching for months, looking at both male and female actors, dancers, models, transsexuals, real eunuchs etc. but to no avail. My wife Suzanne suggested the Spanish ENB dancer Francisco Bosch, who she'd recently signed. We both coached him on his dialogue and I choreographed a solo for him, which he performed for Oliver in his office. Oliver was blown away and Francisco was virtually offered the part on the spot. The part of the Princess Roxane was too difficult an acting role for the dancers we submitted, and it eventually went to the actress Rosario Dawson who is fortunately a gifted amateur dancer. Suzanne went on to cast all the remaining dancers in Alexander but because of the other films with dancers going on at the same time, very few people were available. I only had a full cast together literally by the first day of rehearsal on each occasion. I was very lucky in that all the dancers I got to work with were truly amazing. I like to work with the same people when I can, and now I'm seriously spoilt for choice. There was a very magical atmosphere on Alexander - it's going to be a tough act to follow.

Carol: It's a great time to be a choreographer working in Cinema, with films like Bye Bye Birdie and The Company coming soon. Are you excited about the opportunities being generated for dancers on film at the moment?

Piers: Definitely (have either of them booked a choreographer yet?) but I am also concerned. Suzanne and I have had to work very hard to make sure that our dancers are treated properly on Films. Dancers are frequently kept waiting for ages in the freezing cold before being asked to dance full out with no breaks between takes. They're rarely given a class or a warm up. They are usually expected to dance on surfaces that are dangerous, and have to avoid dangerous objects (on one film recently, a group of dancers had to negotiate a herd of terrified sheep!). It's a miracle the injury rate isn't higher. Most of the time they are treated like extras, which is completely unacceptable. I'm a qualified Health and Safety officer (Nerd alert!) and I was able to do Risk Assessments for the Alexander dancing scenes, which were fully implemented by the production. Suzanne and I are currently working with Equity on a dancers' film contract that should iron out all these problems in the future. We've asked all our dancers who've done a film in the last year to contribute by completing a questionnaire regarding their treatment and the conditions they were asked to work under. Most of the Alexander dancers, however, said that it was the most amazing job they've ever done, and I do believe that it is great experience for dancers to work on feature films and to work with great men like Oliver Stone. Personally I find film choreography the most rewarding of all, and I'm glad that so many films want to feature dancers right now. I hope it stays that way for a long time.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 21 Dec 2003
Posts: 164
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:07 am    Post subject: Dance Reply with quote

Thank you Kida,
This is indeed a very good article on the film. It's the first news about it in a long time.
Great work and thanks again......
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Site Admin

Joined: 30 Sep 2003
Posts: 630
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Kida.

I'm currently awaiting permission from that site to use the interview on the news page (as it's copyrighted material).

The Alexander news front has been really quiet at the moment, although I do trawl the web on a daily basis.

I'm hoping if all goes well with my meeting with Warner Bros. that we'll start getting news and updates on a regular basis Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 211
Location: Portsmouth, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm hoping if all goes well with my meeting with Warner Bros. that we'll start getting news and updates on a regular basis

that would be cool.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    alexander-the-great.co.uk Forum Index -> Discuss 'Alexander' the Movie - Pre-Release All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group