Thursday 14 November 2019

I failed dismally at ballet - Macca

Sir Paul McCartney will achieve a new first as he premieres his first-ever ballet score in New York. Photo: PA
Sir Paul McCartney will achieve a new first as he premieres his first-ever ballet score in New York. Photo: PA

Sir Paul McCartney has revealed he was inspired to try out his own ballet moves as he researched his new dance project - but proved a dismal failure.

The musician - who premieres his first-ever ballet score in New York tonight - said he knew little about the classical dance world before taking on the project.

But as he put in the groundwork to work on his new production, Ocean's Kingdom, he gained new respect for the dancers when he tried it himself.

He said: "I'd seen the great traditional ballets like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, but I had a very limited knowledge of ballet.

"But since this project I've obviously started to take notice - I went to see Giselle recently in London and was bowled over by the sheer athleticism of the dancers.

"The next day I tried to do one of the steps and failed dismally, which gave me a new admiration for the dancers."

The former Beatles star has worked on a number of classical works in the past, including his Liverpool Oratorio, but tonight's performance marks the first time he has written an original orchestral score for dance.

He admitted he would be a "bit nervous" as the curtain went up at the Lincoln Centre for the New York City Ballet's debut of the work.

Speaking from rehearsals, he said: "We've all put a lot of work into it. I'll be a bit nervous but I think that's a good thing.

"I'll also be quietly confident and nervous."

Sir Paul said he decided to do the ballet because he saw it as "a challenge".

"I'm the kind of person that if I get an exciting or unusual offer, which this was, I tend to go 'Yes' and then think later about what I've bitten off."

His daughter, Stella, a fashion designer, has worked on the costumes for the production and he said it had been "special" working with her.

"She's a great enthusiast and I think she thought this would be an exciting opportunity. It's been great working together. It's been very special," he said.

Sir Paul - who is to marry fiancee Nancy Shevell shortly - said he had enjoyed the composition process, particularly writing "expressively", to convey emotion.

"I enjoy writing music full stop, so whether it's an orchestra or rock, I immerse myself in it.

"I'm a very enthusiastic person so I enjoyed the process - I didn't really find it too difficult. What was interesting was writing music that meant something expressively rather than just writing a song.

"Trying to write something that expressed an emotion was very interesting - so you have fear, love, anger, sadness to play with, and I found that very interesting and challenging but great - I'm really glad I accepted," he said.

Sir Paul took on the commission after meeting the NYCB's ballet master in chief, Peter Martins, last year at the School of American Ballet's winter gala.

The musician's first orchestral work, a collaboration with Carl Davis called Liverpool Oratorio, was first heard in 1991. Since then he has released Standing Stone, Working Classical and Ecce Cor Meum.

He will release an album of his music from Ocean's Kingdom next month, recorded with the London Classical Orchestra.

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