Visual Arts: In the tortured steps of Egon Schiele

Lea Anderson has created a dance from the works of the Austrian expressionist. Looks painful, says Louise Levene

Lea Anderson normally makes do with her own sketches when looking for inspiration for new dance pieces. Her workroom's shelves are lined with scrapbooks packed with images. "I've got books of fledgling ideas, more developed ideas and loads and loads and loads of Egon Schiele."

The published sketches of the Austrian expressionist have formed the basis for Anderson's latest work for her all-male group The Featherstonehaughs, celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Essentially these are the lost dances of Egon Schiele. Anderson (who studied at St Martins School of Art before doing her dance training at the Laban Centre) sees the sketches as stills taken from a forgotten dance: "The paintings are incredibly anatomically correct and exciting. The muscles and the tension in the bodies is so tangible it lends itself naturally as source material for movement." Anderson has been hatching this posthumous collaboration for over five years but it is her habit to spend a long time incubating her dances. "I usually make my own pictures and drawings and collect things for up to two years before a show to create a structure, to see how it will work spatially."

It has to be said that many choreographers would regard dancers' bodies in the studio as the ideal means for establishing whether something will "work spatially" but Anderson has a CV to prove the efficiency of her working method. In addition to her work with her two groups The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs she has also been prolific in opera and theatre, choreographing ENO's Khovanschina and Sam Mendes' Cabaret.

Did she find that using Schiele's way of seeing provided her with a fresh set of ideas? Could we look forward to the lost dances of Michelangelo or Rodin or Beryl Cook? ``I don't think so. This has been a very particular thing. I wanted to throw myself out of familiar ways of working but not so much that I didn't know how to work. It's up to me to decide what to do with the sketches. But using them makes sure that I can't resort to tricks or make things work in a way I know they will. It's been a challenge to me but it hasn't taken things out of my hands."

The costumes are by Sandy Powell (famous for her work on Caravaggio, Edward II, Orlando and Wings of a Dove). Given Schiele's notorious fondness for the naked body it is perhaps a surprise that Anderson didn't opt to dispense with the costume budget entirely but she has a bit of a problem with stage nudity. ``I think it's very complex and it's very hard to deal with. We've decided not to use real nudity but expressionist nudity." This turns out to be flesh-coloured suits painted with muscles, bruises, pubic hair et al to mimic the tortured bodies of Schiele's drawings.

The six Featherstonehaughs have had to work hard to get inside Schiele's figures. ``They were a bit baffled at first but they've been staring at it all day every day to reproduce the shapes and they've become incredibly sensitive to the work. You have to make a sequence that requires fluid movement through maybe 50 of the paintings. It's been a challenge but one that they've really risen to.''

`The Featherstonehaughs draw on the sketchbooks of Egon Schiele', 24- 28 Feb, The Place, 0171-387 0031 and touring nationally.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

    Recruitment Genius: General Processor

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot