DanceNext Steps | Ballet Dancer Joel Burke makes his Film Debut —...

Next Steps | Ballet Dancer Joel Burke makes his Film Debut — A Dancer’s Life

An expert in the field of dance, tirelessly working as a proud director of the phenomenal BIG, which recently announced tickets to BIG IV this August 2023, Joel is a seasoned performer whose acquainted in the ballet industry. However, performing for screen had its challenges. “A lot of the pas de deux we pretty much had to do cold. When working in a normal dance setting, you would normally be warmed up, have done barre and go into dancing. Although with set, you have to make sure the camera is in focus, or that they’re happy with the angle. In a lot of the scenes, we were in basements or on stage in our costumes with air cons turned up high, so, we weren’t in warm clothing or warm up gear and would get really cold after two or three hours of doing that one scene. Although, Juliet is easy to partner and I’ve done partnering my whole life, so that was simple. Yet, trying to be on your leg in a pirouette or go straight into a lift was kind of a fun challenge as well as being filmed on particular angles. As a dancer, you’re always slightly self-conscious, so it was all about trusting the process.”. While both the dance space and self-belief can impact ones performance, at times pas de deux doesn’t go as planned, “There was a time where we were off set, and Lauren whose not a dancer wanted to be lifted. I did this sort of ‘Dirty Dancing’ lift with her, but she had the thickest Dr Martens on and I didn’t put that into the equation, so she just toppled literally over the top.”, he mentions jokingly. Much like dancers prefer certain dance choreography, costumes or even shoes, we were keen to know what working on a film set was like in comparison to performing on stage. You won’t be too surprised to hear what his preference was. “I much prefer stage.” Joel laughs. While the stage may appear the same on screen, the process behind it all is incredibly different. “With stage you can get in the mindset of, ‘I’m about to go onstage and I’m about to do this exact thing’. Film it will be like, ‘we need to get this lift and we want someone to be dropped’. There was one shot we did with Primrose where she falls from a big lift and she had quite a lot of tulle on her costume. I had no shirt on, so it was ripping across my body. We probably did that lift I would say at least fifty times, just up and down with reshoots. That aspect of also having to be in character mid-way through a pas de deux, rather than having the whole pas de deux to build from was interesting as well.”.

When watching a dance film, dancers naturally pay close attention to the choreography. Luckily for Joel, being alongside choreographer Daniel Gaudiello didn’t feel foreign, having worked with him before. This becomes beneficial for professional dancers as there is a sense of choreographic familiarity. “I already knew how he moved and worked, we’re both passionate about ballet in the same way too. He was actually the reason I found out about The Red Shoes prior to my audition. When it came to the rehearsal process, it was about experimenting. Dan would ask us ‘where do you want to go from here?’ and was in the position of knowing people have certain ways of moving. I have to take my hat off to him, he let us do what we felt comfortable with, but, also challenged us enough to get what he wanted out of it too. It was a fun process, he’s a good man.”. Hence, the on-screen chemistry was not only conveyed through the actors themselves, but was enhanced through the brilliant dance choreography.

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