Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
February 02, 2004
U of G prof's set design featured in new movie
A University of Guelph professor's set design is featured in a new movie starring Guelph native Neve Campbell. In The Company, Campbell's character, a dancer, is asked to star in Blue Snake, an original ballet whose set was designed by theatre professor Jerrard Smith.
The Robert Altman movie, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and opens in selected theatres Jan. 30, follows life in a Chicago troupe closely modelled on the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet.
During the filming of the movie, Blue Snake choreographer Robert Desrosiers consulted Smith after taking the original set out of storage and setting it up in Chicago for the filming of the movie. "They were uncertain about the way the set was put together on stage," said Smtih.
Smith was working on the set for another production for Desrosiers' company when the National Ballet of Canada commissioned Desrosiers to choreograph Blue Snake. Smith spent about three months creating the set for the production, which opened in 1985.
Before landing a lead role on the TV series Party of Five, Campbell studied with the National Ballet of Canada and went to see Blue Snake when she was nine. She came up with the concept for The Company and wanted to feature the production that had moved her as a young girl.
When it opened in Toronto, Blue Snake made waves in the dance world, said Smith. "It was very visual, very elaborate, very surreal, so it was a break from anything that the National Ballet had done before. The dancers enjoyed doing something really unusual. I remember when we first brought out the set to stage the dance, they immediately wanted to jump on it and try it out and climbed all over it."
French-Canadian Desrosiers plays himself in the movie and pitches the idea for Blue Snake to the company's artistic director, played by Malcolm McDowell.