Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Braw and The Brave Meet..... Greg Robertson

Greg Robertson has always been a bit of a song and dance man. From the tender age of 4 he was pestering his mum to allow him attend dance classes with the girls she child-minded and tagging along to the local amateur dramatics club to watch her tread the boards. He caught the performance bug early on starring in many a school show as a teenager growing up in Cumbernauld. Seizing any opportunity to perform Greg, over the years, has been involved with a variety projects and in 2014 was delighted to dance at the Commonwealth Games Opening ceremony in Glasgow. "I loved the large-scale formation work. We rehearsed on a football pitch which was all marked out. That kind of choreography work fascinates me".

 He soon became a triple threat enjoying singing and acting as well as dance, joining a local am-dram club and it was there he found his passion for choreography. "When I was with the Apollo Players I remember watching John Carlyle choreographing a number and I was amazed"Whilst studying a Community Arts Degree, Greg started singing with a community choir in Glasgow, Musichoir Scotland and eventually took on the role of choreographer for both their Glasgow and Ayrshire branches. 6 years on Greg continues to work with Choir Master Neil Thomson to create full-scale, lively productions. "At first I wondered just how much I'd be able to achieve working with non-dancers but over time I have become a lot more confident in my abilities to get the best from them. They are always so grateful for your support!"

Musichoir Scotland

As a freelance artist, Greg has had to create his own opportunities approaching amateur clubs to work on their productions. Teaming up with Runway Theatre Company in 2015 for the show Evita,  Greg admit"They took a chance on me as I'd never choreographed a full-scale musical before!". But it was a chance worth taking and having just produced a show-stopping dance extravaganza  with their sell-out run of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, it's a certainty the club won't be looking back on their decision to hire him. Not one to do things by half, he also stepped back in to limelight and in to the (sky-scraper high) shoes of one of show's leads and with 25 musical numbers to choreograph it was no mean feat juggling the two tasks in hand. "On opening night I actually felt sick. The show had had so much buzz surrounding it, I just wanted it to go well". And indeed it did, with standing ovations and rave reviews cementing that they had produced something quite spectacular. With energetic, fun-filled performances, Greg's choreography brought each number to life with verve and vigour. 

Runway Theatre Company's Priscilla Queen of the Dessert, 2017

The creative process for Greg starts with the music, continually listening to a song whilst commuting helps to get a basic outline of the number in his head, adding the detail latterly. Picturing formations, changes of level and the ebb and flow of a piece initially helps to shape a blueprint version of the choreography without having to delve into the intricacies from the get-go. He draws his inspiration from the music and his performance background and although he respects how others may have preciously produced a number, he feels it important to not be too influenced by what has come before. "With some numbers in certain shows, there are those movements or moments where you'd be doing it a disservice if you didn't reference something that is seen as iconic but mostly I prefer to do my own version".  Like any good practitioner he is ever-prepared but leaves enough wiggle room within his work to allow the rehearsal room the freedom to breed it's own steps. When a creative blockage arises it can be a real stumbling block when you're working to a deadline. Rather than risk producing something that doesn't feel right Greg explains, "When I think "Right, I need to get this choreographed today" and then nothing seems to come to mind, in those scenarios I find it's best to step away from it momentarily and come back to it at a later time".

In the Heights 

Working with his performers Greg is able to also draw ideas from how they move and interact. Playing to everyone's strengths is a vital part of directing amateur performers of all ages and abilities and it's Greg job to produce choreography, however simplistic or intricate, that everyone involved can achieve and bring to life on stage confidently. Your teaching style and the support and encouragement you give is what can make or break the final product. "When I first stepped off-stage to choreograph a show, I wondered if I'd get the same buzz as I did was actually better! I sat in the audience on the opening night balling my eyes out. I was so proud"Over the last year or so he has worked on a a number of musicals, including In The Heights with Glasgow Music TheatreThe Addams Family with Eastwood Entertainers.

The freelance life can sometimes be a solo venture, so getting the chance to team up with other creatives wherever possible is so rewarding. Both Greg and I had the pleasure of co-choreographing Theatre Royal Glasgow's Stage Experience production of The Wizard of Oz last summer and personally, working with Greg was a real highlight of what was a wonderful (crazy busy!) two weeks. Being open to collaborating with and learning from others is something that all creatives should embrace. Greg has worked with directors, musicians, other choreographers like myself and has appreciated every opportunity he has been given thus far to grow as an artist. 

"I'm the first person to congratulate another choreographer when I've enjoyed their work. I'll also happily recommend someone else for a job I can't take on".  There are always new lessons to be learned along the way and with experience comes the confidence to go with your instincts and believe in your strengths as a creative. "If I had any advice when creating something from scratch, it would be to trust yourself. When something feels like it may not work, try to stick with it and see what the outcome is". Greg endeavours to be supportive and encouraging to fellow performers and colleagues. With every project he undertakes he faces it with great enthusiasm and a drive to produce the best work he can. He has a passion for musical theatre and it's one he enjoys sharing with others. "You just have to enjoy it and always remember you're really lucky to be doing something you love". 

First single you ever bought?
Britney Spears' 'Hit Me Baby'. I had posters of her all over my room"

If you could have an unlimited amount of something, what would it be?
"Time to go see more shows. It's so hard finding the time to go and support other amateur productions" 

Most commonly used word?
My girlfriend says I say 'Okay' a lot. She says I use it at the start of sentences even when it doesn't make any sense!"

Hidden talent?
"I can play the trombone!" 

Favourite musical?
"That's a difficult changes all the time. I love WICKED! But if I had the chance I'd love to choreograph Chicago"

Keep up with Greg via his Facebook page!!

1 comment:

  1. As a member of Musichoir,I can confirm that we are indeed grateful for Greg's support and ENDLESS patience.Its a miracle that he gets all us non dancers to perform his wonderful routines.
    It's also a joy to come and see the shows he has choreographed,we all feel such a sense of pride to see his work go from strength to strength.
    Can't wait to see what he does in the future.