An Interview with Sacha Copland

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From the genius that brought her Back of the Bus to the Fringe, comes a brand new & delicious tasting dance show

Hello Sacha, first thing’s first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I am from New Zealand, 2 islands shaped like a question mark at the bottom of the world. I grew up in a tiny village called Kirwee in the country in the South Island. there was a lot of space! I have just arrived in Edinburgh after premiering chocolate a week ago in Wellington. I have just been awarded the 2019-21 CNZ Choreographic Fellowship and I am about to go and rehearse on a bus (The Red Bus for Back of the Bus).

Can you tell us about your training?
I trained at the New Zealand School of Dance and I’m one of their ‘distinguished graduates.’ When we were training we danced all day every day except for Sunday.

How did you get into choreography?
Since I was a kid I have always been into trying to tell stories and express the mysteries of life through choreography. I made all the farmer boys in my class be in the first ever dance show I choreographed when I was 8.

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The cast of Chocolate

You’ve got three famous dancers (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Pina Bausch, Douglas Wright and Alain Patel. I would cook home made bread for the starter, mole for the main and chocolate tart for dessert, served with delicious wine and whisy and inspired by Java’s Artisan Series (RISE, In the Wine, The Creamery, Chocolate and……)

Can you tell us how Java Dance Company came about?
I just started making shows and then needed to establish Java formally because it just kept growing. My first ever show was called Espresso. In 2008 we made the hit Back of the Bus and we’re still performing it all over the world! It somehow always seemed inevitable.

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What are the creative processes behind actualising your show ideas?
We experiment a lot!!! The dancers sing, the musicians dance, we tell stories, we play games, we use text to improvise movement. For Chocolate we had a residency that included Mexican masterchef (with prizes and time limits), a cacao ceremony, importing a tiple (12 string guitar) from Colombia and lots of dancing!!! We worked as Chocolatiers for a day. We did an installation where we filled a room with cacao husks and the audience ept saying they felt like they were in a dream… it has all fed into CHOCOLATE!

Your Back of the Bus has gone down extremely well in recent Edinburgh Fringes, why do you think this was so?
I think people like unexpected things, they like travelling, they like being included. Back of the Bus sweeps the audience off their feet and it turns out people like being swept 0ff their feet!


You’re bringing something new to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
CHOCOLATE might just be my favourite of the 20 full length works I have created (I’m not that old I have just been on a rampage!). I love it when the audience taste Chocolate together, I love the huge transformation that happens in the work. It really captures both the bitter and the sweet of chocolate. Its high contrast. There’s beautiful dance and some post sugar rush grit. And melted chocolate is involved…. and chocolate cello, lush live music, dancers singing, the romance of chocolate, unbridled consumption, the ancient beauty of cacao. There’s a lot in there!


This is your latest work in the Artisan Series, can you tell us about the earlier productions & how does Chocolate fit into the same scheme?
Chocolate is the 4th of the Artisan Series! We started with Bread in RISE (and 40gs of flour fell slowly onto a dancer, honey poured over lovers, water gushed from walls and the audience mixed and kneaded it all). It was like the land before time. In the Wine was about Wine making and village politics and smelled delicious (Darchat Award for Best dance 2016), The Creamery explores mob mentality and warring neighbours. the audience wear cheese hats and its hilarious! Chocolate is the dessert and its more personal somehow. Its about what is closest to your heart and how insatiable our wants and desires are. And maybe there’s whisky still to come….

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Can you tell us about the creation of Chocolate’s physical stage?
It’s staged in the round at Assembly’s new venue The Bijou! The audience has to take their shoes off for the full experience. Cacao immersion. you’ll have to come to find out more!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell Chocolate on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
You get to taste Chocolate in the lushest ways you can imagine, live music, dancers who can dance, act, sing and play the charango, musicians who can dance and delicious Chocolate sponsored by Chocolate Tree and the Wellington Chocolate Factory!


Assembly Rooms

 Aug 1-24 (14:30)

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