Home crowd is sure to keep Mark on his toes

AS long as he's supple enough to pull on a pair of ballet shoes, Mark Kimmett will always be known as Glasgow's answer to Billy Elliot.

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nMark Kimmett has been on tours to the Far East with the ballet company and enjoyed experiencing different cultures on his travels
nMark Kimmett has been on tours to the Far East with the ballet company and enjoyed experiencing different cultures on his travels

The 30-year-old from Govan has spread his wings to move to London, after spending nine years with Scottish Ballet.

But rehearsals for his latest show with new company Rambert, the oldest dance troupe in Britain, have had more in common with James Bond than any gentle tale about a hoofing coalminer's son.

For their touring piece Elysian Fields – which he'll be performing for three nights at Glasgow's Theatre Royal from today – fight director and stunt co-ordinator Terry King was brought into their west London rehearsal studio.

Mark said: "There are some violent moments.

"He showed us how to do that safely, but with a real impact so that the audience, when they see it, they really believe that it looks like that person was slapped in the face, or someone headbutted someone else, and it looks real.

"We've got to do it in such a way that it's safe and it isn't real. That's quite a challenge."

Elysian Fields is part of a triple bill that the London-based touring company will stage as part of their visit to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.

The sexually-charged piece was choreographed by Javier De Frutos and is based on Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

It will be performed alongside Tim Rushton's Monolith and Marguerite Donlon's Labyrinth of Love.

Labyrinth of Love, which gives the tour its title, is inspired by love poems and prose written by seven women.

It also features soprano Sarah Gabriel singing live on stage and video imagery by visual artist Mat Collishaw.

Mark last performed in Glasgow in November 2011 with Seven For A Secret, staged as part of Rambert's 85th birthday celebrations.

He said: "It will be nice to come back and perform again on the Theatre Royal stage - that was where I grew up and where I learned my craft.

"It's normally a good audience in Glasgow because they're really open to experiencing something different."

Having moved to London to join Rambert in June 2010, Mark has had to adapt to the risk-taking repertoire of Rambert, which uses a mix of contemporary and classical styles.

"In many ways, the technique of a classical dancer is amazing and it's beautiful, but that technique will never leave me," said Mark, who was scouted by the National Dance School of Scotland while a pupil at Lourdes Secondary School, Cardonald.

"What my challenge is now is to let some of that go and push myself from what I thought I was capable of.

"From that point of view, it's quite nice to not always be exactly formed and not always have to be this ideal.

"You can try to be more of an individual dancer."

Mark completed four years at the Dance School of Scotland at Knightswood Secondary before training at the Royal Ballet Upper School in London, dancing in his graduation year at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Immediately after graduation in 2001, he secured a job with Scottish Ballet, becoming one of their youngest dancers.

His time there coincided with the company's renaissance under the artistic direction of Ashley Page, who has since been replaced by Christopher Hampson.

Mark alternated roles in Christmas shows including Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Cinderella with performances in Stephen Petronio's Ride The Beast, Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine's masterpiece The Four Temperaments.

The company made frequent visits to the Edinburgh International Festival and Mark toured to Beijing and Shanghai with them in May 2009.

Last September, he joined a two-and-a-half-week tour of Asia with Rambert, stopping off at Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul.

"That's one of the perks of my job," said Mark.

"I experience different cultures, try different types of food and experience different religions.

"That gives me a chance to grow as a person as well. It was a really nice tour."

Rambert is due to move to a £19.6million facility in London's South Bank in autumn.

"We will miss that sense of the people who have been through the old building.

"But when you go to a new building, you have to create that legacy as time goes on."

lRambert's Labyrinth of Love Tour is at Theatre Royal, Hope Street from today until Saturday at 7.30pm. For tickets, £6–£28, call 0844 871 7647.

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