London Symphony Orchestra

Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano

IN BRIEF

Established in 1904, The London Symphony Orchestra [LSO] is a world-renowned musical collective built on artistic ownership and partnership. Performing 70 symphonic concerts every year from its long-term residence at the Barbican Centre in the City of London, the LSO's mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people. 

From its first days, the LSO has been defiantly different and proudly pioneering. Premieres of now-popular works, relationships with some of the greatest conductors and world-leading music education and community programmes, the LSO has a unique ethos and an inimitable signature sound, earning its reputation as one of the top 5 orchestras in the world. 

To mark the launch of the new LSO season in 2020: 'Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano', we created a first live-action campaign to celebrate the classical music of the first two decades of the 20th century. 

WHAT WE DID 

Inspired by a literal reinterpretation of the season's theme, 'Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano', we partnered with Found Studio and dancer Ella Robson Guilfoyle to create a dramatic, explosive and tension-fuelled live action campaign. 

Capturing the volatility of the period, the film brings together abstract and literal moments that fleetingly reveal the dancer in motion. 

Staying true to the LSO's original spirit, the dancer's choreography faithfully follows the movement of Sir Simon Rattle's baton as he conducts Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and performed in a series of sequences to achieve the precision of the rhythm. 

To reflect the power and explosive moments of the music, Ella danced in a flurry of expressive movements. First with fabric, a base layer of the movement, then with sparklers, flares, smoke grenades and chalk dust, and finally, in a full-length dance filmed with an added echo effect to create a motion trail that fades, and comes to life, creating a fiery flame-like visual performance. 

The film premiered at the Barbican Centre, the home of the LSO in London, and on digital and social platforms. The carefully selected stills composed with typography were designed for season's printed communications, ensuring the dancer is always seen, just like the film, striking an unusual balance between abstract and literal. 

"'Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano' is a phrase Alban Beg and others used to describe the febrile atmosphere in Germany in the 1930s. It's an extraordinary expression, one that inspired us to explore what was happening in the musical world in the first half of the 20th century. The era produced some of the darkest music possible. For example, Webern's Six Pieces, which we hear in the opening week, prefigure the future catastrophes: rich, but tiny and intense with the power of hydrochloric acid, they go to the heart of everything. That's exactly where we hope to take you this season."

Sir Simon Rattle
Music Director, London Symphony Orchestra