It’s steaming up at Canada Water. A new dance theatre show Love & Sex is getting down and dirty using music and movement to tackle matters of the heart.
Grammy nominated composer Steve Marshall, who co-founded Love & Sex’s production company State of Emergency in the ‘80s, has worked with choreographers Colin Poole and Alesandra Seutin to create the show, which is aimed at young people and examines the emotions, pressures and comedy of sexual relationships.
The singer and instrumentalist has worked across a range of genres including reggae, soul/RnB, rock, jazz, funk, Afro-beat, country, hip-hop, blues, dance and electronica. As a producer, his work with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Keith Richards and George Clinton earned him Grammy nominations in 2008 and 2011.
“We started working on Love and Sex in October. The titles always makes me think of the song by Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart; everyone feels so strongly about the subject and feels like they own it,” Steve tells the Weekender.
The dance theatre show, which has six cast members, is performed in two parts with Colin Poole choreographing the first act and Alesandra Seutin choreographing the second. “The essence of that is our study of the subject of sex represents two worlds. The first world is of the objectification of sex, of women and men, stereotyping and it’s a psychological, kind of cruel study about what people do to each other,” Steve explains. “The other world that exists is one of human emotion, of love, trust, hope for the future, chances, excitement…we wanted to cover both spaces.”
With an extensive musical repertoire, Steve drew on a range of influences to design music to accompany the dance. “In creating the first world, which is a social media-driven cold, tough world of inappropriate behaviour bordering on abuse I wanted to represent this with very little ambience,” Steve says. “It needed an electronic background with a lot of cold, hard, deconstructed sounds. I wanted to make it an alien environment, a surreal world.”
In representing the other, warmer side, the musician turned to Blues, Soul and Jazz. “There is a connection between the two parts of the show, even though they’re choreographed by different people,” Steve explains. “Both choreographers are Avant Garde; Alesandra has more African influence and Colin is much more academic and intellectual. They’re both black but the experimentation is not culturally defined.”
Steve is currently planning State of Emergency’s next three year program though the company has ongoing projects including retreats for choreographers and educational projects in Tottenham and Bristol. The musician originally rose up into the industry with Jamaican musicians, where he immersed himself into the world of reggae, soul and jazz in London. From here he became a studio assistant for Lee Perry; the two went on to produce three albums and received a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae album. This subsequently lead the musician to meeting Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
“Keith was really interesting; but Lee [Perry] is really the lynchpin in all of this,” Steve reflects. “Keith was always fascinated by Lee and wanted to meet him so Keith’s London management got in touch with me. I asked if he wanted to play some guitar for us and within a few weeks I was in New York and he played guitar on two albums,” he says. Recently Keith Richards asked Steve and Lee Perry to return and favour work on his own solo album.
“He’s a down to earth person and very charming; he’s a superstar isn’t he? But he’s very courteous and respectful and if he’s running half an hour late you’ll get a text from him,” Steve reveals. “You work with a lot of people who have no reputation and all ego. You do get starstruck with Keith Richards but he just likes people to be real and down to earth.”
Love & Sex is at Canada Water Culture Space, 21 Surrey Quays Road, SE16 7AR, on February 13. Admission: £10 / £8 concessions. Phone: 020 8692 4446. http://canadawaterculturespace.org.uk