Thursday, September 11, 2008

Francesca Jaynes: Choreographer for "Alice in Wonderland"

In an interview discussing her past, current, and future works, choreographer Francesca Jaynes revealed that she will be working on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. In the lengthy interview, Jaynes talked about her collaborations with Tim Burton -- starting with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street -- how she communicates with him, and what she sees as his vision for the film and how she executes it.

Jaynes begins with discussing the challenge of choreographing Deep Roy -- one man who had to interact with hundreds of Oompa Loompa versions of himself -- in Charlie:

"The filming of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was so complicated that some days we were really pleased just to get a couple of seconds of finished footage in the can - thankfully not all the film was that slow."

She then went on to compare working with director Mike Leigh (on the Gilbert and Sullivan story Topsy Turvy) and Tim Burton:

"The differences between Mike and Tim are huge. With Mike you can talk and talk and talk about a subject but Tim, he has got to see it. I can start to talk to Tim about a dance and I can see his eyes start to glaze over. Then he'll go: 'Get some dancers, show me.' As soon as he sees it, then he can talk about it.

"I can understand why Tim always has the same team around him because you have got to have that understanding. He's quite shy but very perceptive. He's a very visual person."

On getting to know Burton:

"I went for an interview for Charlie with the producers and I didn't think it had gone very well at all. It was one of those interviews where I couldn't remember anything and I thought it all sounded a bit vague. The problem was that I had had a terrible time on De-Lovely, the Cole Porter musical, and I was a bit wary of working with Americans but then they invited me back to meet Tim.

"My rather stumbling interview worked in my favour because the producers knew you can't have someone who talks at Tim, you have to listen because Tim sometimes finds it hard to articulate what he's after which is why he'll often grab a pen and do you a drawing."

Jaynes recalled that Burton was interested in working with her because of her work on A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Steven Spielberg's science-fiction tribute to the late master director Stanley Kubrick:

"The first thing that Tim said to me was 'I like the movement you did with Jude Law', referring to the work I had done on AI, and he was the only person, outside family and friends, who had noticed the work that went into that and that's because of the way that he animates his stop- motion work."

Jaynes work in the movie suggests that dance will be in Alice in Wonderland, if only briefly (maybe one scene or two). But in what context? In Lewis Carroll's original book, there are a couple of songs. Perhaps these will be adapted in Burton's cinematic version of the story? Or perhaps it'll be for character motion in general, for the weird assortment of Wonderland denizens.

You can read the full article to learn plenty more about Francesca Jaynes' various work in film and theater alike.

No comments: