Circle of Five (2012)

Duration: 11’
For live piano and pre-recorded track
Choreography: Mikaela Polley
Design: Richard Gellar
Lighting Design: Ed Railton
First performed at the Hertford Theatre, Hertford in March 2012 as
part of the Ballet Central National tour

Philip Feeney’s second collaboration with choreographer, Mikaela Polley, currently rehearsal director for Rambert Dance Company, was created as a celebration of the 2012 London Olympics. It was choreographed in the autumn of the previous year, and the music was completed in the following January. 

When embarking on a work explicitly inspired by the Olympic ethos, both choreographer and composer agreed that the score should be percussion-based. This would allow for a dynamism and an energy which could readily reflect the physicality and athleticism of the choreography. The instruments used were mainly Asian percussion instruments, giving the music a clear ceremonial quality, and offering a passing nod towards the previous Olympic gathering at Beijing.

Of course it was important to retain the live element so intrinsic to the Ballet Central philosophy, so a violin and cello are added to the percussion with the composer playing live on piano. Accordingly, while the work starts off purely as a percussion score, isolated cello notes are soon heard, and the music gradually develops a more ensemble feel, culminating in an exciting final celebratory section. This all makes for a remarkable multi-cultural musical fusion, which is again entirely apt given the Olympic theme. 

It could have been tempting, when considering the subject and indeed the title, to cabalistically base the whole score around the number five. However, in music fives can be a problem, suggesting something perhaps uneven, a limp even, which for an Olympic-inspired piece clearly would not do! But towards the end, fives do start to appear ever more frequently, resulting in a great sense of easy acceleration, the kind only the great athletes employ.

Circle of Five was selected for performances at the Olympic Park in London as part of the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012.