Mother of invention through dance

Laura Caldow in rehearsals for KES.  Credit: Johan Persson.
Laura Caldow in rehearsals for KES. Credit: Johan Persson.

“I am the kind of dancer who gets asked to do the craziest projects,” says Laura Caldow who is playing Mother in Sheffield Theatres’ dance theatre production of Kes this week. “This may be a new type of thing for the Crucible but I am in my element.”

With a background combining traditional and contemporary, having trained at the Central School of Ballet in Londion and the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York, she describes herself as “a narrative dancer”.

Like most people, she says, she read Barry Hines’ novel, A Kestrel for a Knave, when she was a kid and has re-read it now. “There is a mood and environment in the book and you get a sense a sense of it even if nothing is happening,” she observes. “Dance and movement with music can create a tone and environment to play the narrative. And dance can sustain that feeling longer than text can because you can abstract things.

“I am playing one of the older characters so I cannot be quite as mobile as the others It’s finding those character traits and how to express them physically. I am actually the perfect age to play her which is nice because I am at the stage in my career where I tend to play either older or younger than I actually am.

The character evolved in the rehearsal process. “She has distinct mannerisms,” she says. “You could see her as a terrible mother but there are reasons for how she is what she is.”

So what are the sort of “crazy projects” she had been involved with? “I have toured with a band, Tiger Lillies, in a kind of Brechtian, vaudeville, cabaret piece for Opera North and the West Yorkshire Playhouse,” she says, referring to Lulu - A Murder Ballad in which she played the title role.

Last year she also worked with Will Tuckett for the Royal Ballet with ballerina Zenaida Yanowsky and actress Lindsay Duncan playing Elizabeth I, in the opulent surroundings of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College Greenwich,