Bringing Misia to the Stage

Today the new season officially starts with our first performance back on our big beautiful stage. The company will perform Das Kleine Schwarze/The Roit of Spring, a modern ballet by Terence Kohler portraying the lives and relationship of Coco Chanel and Igor Strawinsky. It is always great to return to stage and there is always such a good energy in the theatre.

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All the girls in Das Kleine Schwarze/The Rite of Spring (photo: Jochen Klenk)

Unfortunately this year I will not be part of this excitement due to an injury (post coming soon on this), which I am very sad about. Who wants to be off before it has even started? But I am realising, one must not dwell on things they can not change and in order to be part of the excitement I decided to share with you my wonderful experience of creating this production instead.

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Best friends Coco & Misia

Last season, when the piece premiered I got the chance to work with Terence in creating the role of Misia Sert, Coco Chanel’s best friend. And oh how I loved becoming this lady. She was confident and sassy, and a socialite among the upper class. Her relationship with Coco was very passionate: insinuated by similar interests, a lethal wit, and drug usage. There was almost rivalry between the two and without Misia introducing Coco to the world of art and beauty, she would not have become the icon she did. Misia often gave Coco ideas for her production in fashion and perfume, telling Coco that fashion changes but perfume is forever: introducing Chanel No. 5.

In the studio Terry, Bruna (dancing Coco), and myself wanted to recreate this passionate and playful nature of their friendship. He asked us to portray the woman gossiping with small movements between us, almost dancing around one another. He wanted this action so much that by the end of my first entrance we literally walk around, using gestures rather than words to insinuate what we wanted to say – bitching about this woman, complaining about that outfit and so on. We had so much fun doing this, that our rehearsals were filled with laughter between friends.

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Giggles in the studio (Photo: Klaus Sohl)

For the element of passion we have an intimate moment with the perfume and a slight suggestion of the actual intimacy the two may have shared. Our moment with the perfume also created the idea of it being a drug to us. When Terry worked with us he always had such a knowledge of the history and story. His ideas always ran so deep. It was so interesting and gave me so much more to work with. I knew exactly what he wanted and there was a meaning behind every step.

Misia and Coco also share a great number on stage set in a bar showing off our ‘inappropriately short’ dresses with so much confidence and excitement. The scene starts the revolution of the power of women and shows how fashion influenced woman’s confidence and independence.

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Coco (Bruna Andrade) and Misia (Harriet Mills) showing off their new designs (Photo: Jochen Klenk

Misia does not appear in the second act as it is more focused on the music Strawinski created. Terry recreated the scandalous first performance of ‘Rite of Spring’ with movements inspired from original images and descriptions. We also have a huge closing scene with the whole company dancing as Timekeepers and creating music with Strawinski.

This was such a fun creation, learning about great women and dressing in beautiful costumes were just the icing on the cake. Having a role created on you is always an honour and privilege so I am really disappointed I won’t be bringing Misia alive tonight. But I leave it in the hands of a friend and know she will dance her own beautiful Misia. Toi toi toi to all of you and I am with you in spirit.

With love,

Harriet

2 thoughts on “Bringing Misia to the Stage

  1. Oh no! Excited to read but I hope you feel better soon! I am just bouncing back from achilles tendonitis (runner + dancer + nonstretcher = apparently bad combo), so my memory is fresh with how gutwrenchingly-scary injuries can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, not good news. I have had the week off now and will be back in the studio tomorrow so fingers crossed I can continue on as normal. I am trying out a lot of things to speed up the healing.
      Sorry to hear you were also dealing with pain but glad you are back 🙂 Keep an eye out for a couple of posts about my injury coming soon xx Thanks for the love and support xx

      Liked by 1 person

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