Service Charge Included (1991)

Duration: 16’
For piano and pre-recorded track
Choreography: Michael Keegan-Dolan
Lighting: Sebastian Petit
First performed at the Minerva, Chichester as part of the 1991 Ballet Central National Tour.

Service Charge Included was Philip Feeney’s first collaboration with Michael Keegan-Dolan, who was at that time in his final year at Central School of Ballet with a burgeoning reputation for richly inventive choreography. Set in a bar, (there is an actual bar on stage), it features a farrago of characters that become drawn towards and finally disappear into a world behind the bar, serving perhaps as an allegory of the perils of the demon drink.

Two contrasting musical motifs are the axis upon which the score rests. Starting with an electronic drum motif that grows into a memorable opening solo for the barman (Mick Dolan, who has for many years worked with the choreographer), it is directly juxtaposed with a quieter more haunting piano theme, initially muted recorded piano against the atmospheric backdrop of electronic rain. Separate short pieces that are played by the live piano mark a series of more or less violent encounters, leading to the final section where the two motifs engage in a titanic battle that leads towards a powerful end.

Recorded on to a Fostex 8 track, it was only realised that there two bars were missing after the recording was done. It was therefore necessary to re-record one section at 4 beats a minute quicker in order to generate the extra 4 seconds. Dancers usually claim that recorded music changes tempo; in this case they were right, the final take was indeed a little faster.