Dance in the Gardens: “It’s a dance and music experience – an invitation for the audience to lose themselves in the music”
Brought to you by Tala Lee-Turton Productions, No Time Like The Present is an immersive dance and music experience which will be presented for the first time at Sheffield Botanical Gardens this month.
Ahead of the show, we spoke to Barnsley-born Tala, a dancer and creative producer whose talent has seen her journey from Yorkshire to train at the famed Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. After two years in the making, she spoke of her excitement in bringing this innovative performance to the Steel City.
You started dancing at such a young age. Can you recall what first brought about that attraction?
Yes, at four years old my mum took me to the local dance club, just to make friends I think. But I think none of us thought I’d have the journey I’d have, one full of ups and downs, all the way to being a creative producer today where I can make my own work.
Can you take us through some key parts of that journey and how it has led to your own production company?
A big part of that was training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, later becoming only the third British female to graduate in its 245-year history. I was in Russia for about seven years altogether, returning to the UK just before the pandemic where I freelanced with companies like English National Ballet. During the pandemic, like many others, I found the time for some self-reflection and concluded that my career so far has been spent dancing other people’s work. I also knew that the most enjoyable working environments for me were the hugely creative ones where the production was inspired by very diverse influences, so I made the decision to start my own company to provide those types of creative opportunities for myself and others.
What specifically was the ethos when you set up Tala-Lee Productions?
The main aim is to connect creatives and audiences to socially and emotionally impactful dance experiences. We want to challenge traditional boundaries and conventions of the ballet industry.
How do you challenge those boundaries and conventions?
I suppose, as someone with a diverse background in terms of my dual heritage and working-class origins, I’ve been able to view the ballet industry from a fairly different perspective. It’s an exciting premise to bring that perspective to classical ballet works, connecting creatives to productions that people might not expect when they think of ballet. People may expect stuff like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, but there’s so much more to it. If you take the physicality of what we do and apply it to a different, diverse story that comes from somewhere you wouldn’t normally associate with classical ballet, then you can get epic results. That’s what we’re exploring with No Time Like the Present.
The dancers will be performing to a synth-pop score, which of course has historical roots in the city. Was that a deliberate choice?
It was a deliberate choice, but not necessarily for that reason. The music was chosen to be nothing like what you’d imagine for a ballet. It entertains and provokes at the same time. The composer Grace Stubbings did a fantastic job; it makes you want to get up and dance.
People may expect stuff like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, but there’s so much more to it. If you take the physicality of what we do and apply it to a different, diverse story that comes from somewhere you wouldn’t normally associate with classical ballet, then you can get epic results.
What sort of narratives and themes run through No Time Like the Present?
First and foremost, it’s a dance and music experience – an invitation for the audience to lose themselves in the music, the movement and the beautiful natural environment. Having the production outdoors in the beautiful green spaces of South Yorkshire is so important; sometimes the walls of a theatre can be intimidating, so to bring the work into a space that people are familiar with, a place they often walk through and relax in, it can hopefully show how we’re trying to move away from traditional conventions of ballet. Moreover, it’s an immersive space where people can have a good time, enjoy the food and drink on offer, get a seat, and really sink into the show itself: five female dancers exploring our inner narratives and sharing that with the audience. The atmosphere is more something you’d find at music events and festivals.
No Time Like The Present is a dance and music experience hosted at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens on the 24th and 25th of August. You will encounter five dancers performing to a synth-pop score composed specifically for the production, performed for 40 minutes without a break, and there will be a number of food and drink traders available throughout the evening. Tickets are priced between £10-£16 and available here.