The Life Class (2008)

Valslav works for a multinational corporation as a minor accountant; he hates his work and has a secret ambition to be a dancer – but his job forbids contact with artistic organizations. He finds Bird, an exotic hybrid woman who teaches dance to a bizarre community and has a pet wolf. FRAME the corporate surveillance man and DOG the security guard follow Vaslav to the studio and film him dancing; they show the evidence to KASH the company boss who confronts Vaslav. Bird flies in….and somehow, with the help of wolf, the world is changed…

Choreographed, written and directed by Jacky Lansley; assistant direction by Peter Nightingale; performed by Vincent Ebrahim, Kathryn Pogson, Tim Taylor, Fergus Early, David Bennett, Ursula Early, Robert Cawsey, Yoko Nishimura, Sue O’Sullivan and Eliot Shrimpton; produced by Rachel Bailey (executive producer) and Jacky Lansley; music ‘The Firebird’ by Igor Stravinsky; piano by Philip Gammon; cinematography by Hugo Glendinning; film edited by Jo Ann Kaplan; Costume design by: Paul Minter; Costume supervision by Michael Weldon.

UK premier: The Horse Factory, London; EU premier: NapoliDanza International Festival of Videodance

“The actor Vincent Ebrahim, who had worked on the earlier [Through The Fire] R&D projects, played a leading role and contributed an enormous amount to the process. The plot of the film had already crystallised into an archetypal story about a small, dilapidated Chaplinesque character challenging a corporate culture – in our story represented by a huge pharmaceutical company who wouldn’t allow their employees to engage in any ‘alternative’ activities – especially dance. Our protagonist, called Vaslav, after the great Nijinsky, loves to dance, but is prevented from doing so by his employers until he rebels…

My own motivation to investigate these early works came from a desire to understand them better. They were, after all, produced in an extraordinarily innovative period when different art forms and artists were working together as part of a modernist cultural zeitgeist.”

Quotes from Choreographies: Tracing the Materials of an Ephemeral Art Form by Jacky Lansley, published by Intellect Books (2017).