"The challenge in finding a story to turn into dance is that it must fit," says Brotherston during a break in rehearsals. "Dance is brilliant at telling emotions - I love you, I hate you, I'm consumed with jealousy - but it can't say 'that's my brother's sister-in-law who stole the money off me'. But this book is all about emotion, love and betrayal. It's timeless - about the breakdown of artifice, and the assertion of the human spirit. There's nothing that needs explaining - you have to respond emotionally."
He stresses that this will not be a "period" production: "Eighteenth-century clothes are particularly hard to dance in - for example, the armholes mean you can't raise your arms above shoulder height." And the choreography will be classical with a modern twist: Cooper's apprenticeship dancing ballets by Kenneth Macmillan will see to that. But there will be period quotations in the form of snatches of courtly dance - a pastiche element which will also be reflected in Philip Feeney's score.
Sarah Wildor - Cooper's partner both on and off the stage - will incarnate the fateful Princesse de Tourvel. "There's a tremendous trust," says Brotherston. "Some of the lifts are frightening, but she knows he will never, ever drop her."
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