Culture vulture

18th June 2004 at 01:00
Drama adviser Michael Platt reveals what puts a spring in his step

From drama to dance

I came to dance through drama: I trained as a drama teacher and before I started teaching I had done no dance at all. I did some workshops, then joined a dance company called Splinters. I like narrative dance: the work of Christopher Bruce and Matthew Bourne's Adventures in Motion Pictures.

But I also like Jiri Kylian, choreographer for the Netherlands Dance Theatre. His work is abstract but it's always on a theme, with a fluid style. It communicates powerful emotions.

Inspired by images

I constantly collect images as a stimulus for work. I take photographs; I cut pictures out of newspapers and magazines. On holiday in Greece I saw a postcard of a desert with a poppy growing. It jumped out at me. There was the blood red of the poppy and the green leaves, against the scorched earth. That became the starting point for a dance I did in Bury Cathedral, about new life coming into a parched, abandoned area.

Discovering music

I am very alert to new sounds. The music of Jocelyn Pook (pictured) always triggers emotion in me. My current discovery is Lo Jo, a tribe of musicians and artists from France. When I listen to their music I'm transported to deserts and ancient cities - it's raw and beautiful.

Favourite reading

Mostly contemporary fiction: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. Rose Tremain's The Way I Found Her; Lesley Glaister; Isabel Allende; Jamie O'Neill's Irish symphony of a novel At Swim, Two Boys. Anything by Patrick Gale.

Following Laban

The dance courses I first went to in Suffolk were run by the Laban Guild (www., for which I now teach. Rudolph Laban's method has been the inspiration for all I do. It allows young people to think about how they use their bodies to communicate ideas. It influences the theatre I go to see - Theatre de Complicite and Shockheaded Peter, for example - and the performance style I look for in our Suffolk Youth Theatre productions.

It's heightened, sometimes even distorted or grotesque.

Michael Platt, county drama adviser for Suffolk, has directed Suffolk Youth Theatre for 10 years. He was talking to Karen Gold

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