CREATIVES & CREDITS
Choreographer Eliot Smith
Composer Adam Johnson
SEAMING TO (Vocals)
JON VISANJI (Violin)
LAURA LLEWELLYN-JONES (Horn)
MARTIN ROBERTSON (Dhuduk)
DAN WATTS (Flute)
Costume arranged by Andrew Gregson
Premiered virtually at Woodhorn Museum on Thursday 03 December 2020
Funded by Arts Council England and Northumberland Arts Development
Eliot Smith Dance (ESD) acknowledges the support received for TroY from Woodhorn Museum, Dance City, Danni Dee and Dr Stephanie Holton
Reflection on TroY by Eliot Smith:
Greek Mythology has always fascinated me, leading me to visit the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Cyprus and the 5th Century BC landmarks in Athens, as well as the recent BP exhibition of Troy at the British Museum. I was also intrigued to hear the insights of Dr Stephanie Holton at Newcastle University and to appreciate the huge influence the visual arts have had in the past and are still having on artists and people in general today.
The idea of a heroic past was important to the Greek sense of identity, and the story of the Trojan War figured largely in this. In a nutshell, the background to the story is that the Trojan prince Paris had been promised by the Goddess Aphrodite the prize of the most beautiful woman in the world if he judged Aphrodite to be the most beautiful goddess. Having done so, Paris was taken by Aphrodite to meet the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus. Aphrodite then gave Helen to Paris as the promised gift, and it was Helen’s husband’s efforts to get her back that resulted in a full-scale war between the Greeks and Trojans.
The story of Troy has been retold numerous times for more than three millennia. Originated by Homer in his great work The Iliad, it has enthralled audiences across the world with its universal themes of love, destruction, war, and hope, and has captured the minds of great poets, writers, filmmakers, composers, artists, and choreographers.
In an effort to delve deeper into the identity of the characters involved in the story, and in particular the legend of “Helen of Troy”, I was interested in how the interaction of these individuals might relate to the present day.
My modernisation of the story of Troy is intended to take you back to the true identity of ancient Greek theatre, when it was not permitted for women to perform on stage and therefore men took all the female roles.
Researching the role of Helen, reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world, but ironically in Greek theatre always played by a man, I asked myself “What if Helen really was a man?”, and that is how the idea of Helen in my version of Troy is portrayed by a male.
I have been fortunate during my research to interview one of the UK’s leading drag artists, Danni Dee, who has helped me develop the overall visual effect for my interpretation of Helen. The facial makeup used for Helen is not intended to represent ‘drag’ but instead to emphasise the male features.
By looking at a well-known story through fresh eyes and trying to make it more relevant to the present day, I hope to highlight the fascination with this particular mythology and how we look at Helen, comparing it with our attitude to same-gender relationships today, and showing how people of the same gender may fall in love but society may not readily accept them.
In order to do this, I have chosen to focus on four major characters:
Helen (Queen of Sparta and wife of King Menelaus),
Paris (Prince of Troy, and son of King Priam),
Hector (Prince of Troy, son of King Priam, brother of Paris and foremost Trojan warrior),
Menelaus (King of Sparta, husband of Helen, and brother of King Agamemnon of Mycenae).
Paris falls in love with Helen, abducts her, and takes her back to Troy. Helen’s husband Menelaus is outraged, and he sails with an army across the Aegean Sea to recapture Helen. Hector defends his brother Paris by killing Menelaus on the battlefield. Both Paris and Helen celebrate their love for each other.