An Interview with the Makers of ‘An Evening with Taglioni’

Acclaimed directors and choreographers Jessica Wright and Morgann Runacre-Temple discuss their latest project in collaboration with English National Ballet

Interview by Hebe Dobson-Mouawad

Jessica Wright and Morgann Runacre-Temple (known as Jess and Morgs) are ridiculously talented. Not only are both women exceptional ballet dancers, but they also have choreographed and directed numerous outstanding short films. The pair are excited to announce their latest project, based on the true story of legendary ballerina Marie Taglioni.

Jess and Morgs in rehearsal

An Evening with Taglioni

The narrative centres around a shocking real event that occurred after Marie Taglioni’s death. Having sold at auction, the star’s pointe shoes found their way into the stomachs of her grief-stricken fans. You didn’t misread; Taglioni’s followers really cooked and ate her shoes at a lavish dinner party!

This bizarre story immediately sparked Morgs’ attention. After relaying the event to her collaborator, Jess, they knew that this was a project for them.

“It’s strange, surreal and very dark, but also hilarious. It ticked loads of boxes for us.”

Taglioni, as Jess explains, was “a huge celebrity in a way that you don’t associate with ballerinas today”. She had hairstyles, bouquets of flowers, and sweets all named after her. Like Taglioni’s shoes, both women became consumed by this strange incident relating to such an iconic ballerina.

The film uses the wonderful dancers of English National Ballet Company.

“It’s such a bizarre story about the lengths that people go to to be close to their idols. We think it’s still relevant today.”

The project, which is set to be completed in March next year, has a Kickstarter page. Members of the public can donate money towards the budget in return for rewards. On offer is a role within the film, as well as an invitation to an exclusive cast and crew screening party. It’s certainly an exciting project to get involved in, given the duo’s track record for making brilliant shorts.

Curing Albrecht

The pair’s 2017 original short dance film, Curing Albrecht, was inspired by Akram Khan’s Giselle. The film screened as part of our family friendly programme for First Light Festival in June this year. It has gone on to win seven awards at International Film Festivals. One of its accolades is the Audience Award from Barcelona’s prestigious Choreoscope Festival.

Curing Albrecht won Best Dance Film 2017 at New Renaissance Film Festival and Best Director at Portland Dance Film Festival.

Surprisingly, given their obvious directorial talent, the duo say they simply fell into making films. “The more we got into it, the more we got into the storytelling aspects of film and dance.” Initially drawn to the medium by capturing movement, they both quickly became obsessed with the ability to create illusions in postproduction in a way that isn’t possible with live dance on stage.

“We love making short films, to capture an idea quickly, which can be shared easily.”

However, the pair are not content with resting on their laurels. Their new short film makes use of actors in two lead roles, as well as incorporating dialogue. For this project, the pair are working with writer, Jeff James. “We wanted to develop aspects of it that aren’t just choreographic.”

“This film is going to be a big push in a new direction for us.”

The end result, they hope, will reach a wider demographic. “Dance films tend to be made for an audience already interested in dance. We want people to engage with it because they like it and not just because it’s dance.”

Visit Kickstarter for more information about how to get involved with An Evening with Taglioni.

At the time of posting, Jess and Morgs have raised £3,825 – just £175 off their £4,000 goal!

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