The Grantchester series, which launched earlier this month on ITV, features swing dances choreographed by Roehampton’s Dance lecturer Rowan McLelland.
Posted: 23 October 2014
Rowan tells us more about working on this exciting project, in which she choreographed together with Swingland company owner Martin Ellis:
“The drama series is set in the early 50s, a period where nearly everyone knew how to partner dance. Very few would attend formal classes; instead they would teach each other different moves on the dance floor. The scene we choreographed is set in a jazz club where the patrons would be dancing. We spent some time before filming with the leading actors, James Norton, Morven Christie, Ukweli Roach and Fiona Button teaching them some swing dance, and we set some choreography so they would feel comfortable on camera.
The filming took place in the beautiful Rivoli Ballroom, which is London's only surviving 50s ballroom - it's stunning! For me, working at the Rivoli ballroom was special. It's such a beautiful space, a real treat to dance in and the live band sounded great. Also as a fan of vintage dressing, being surrounded by hundreds of beautiful 50s dresses was lots of fun!
We also taught approximately 40 supporting artists to dance, to give the appearance of a crowded dance floor. The choreography had to fit around a busy filming schedule, so we had only short pockets of time to teach the cast how to swing dance. The extras had no experience of partner dancing, so it was important to make choreography look spontaneous. It doesn't look authentic if the whole dance floor is doing the same sequence!
I was originally offered this opportunity because I teach swing dance classes across south and west London for a company called Swingland. The owner of Swingland, Martin Ellis and I dance and teach together regularly, and he was approached with the project and asked me to work with him. Martin and I will be teaching a swing dance class to 3rd year students at Roehampton later in the semester as part of the Popular and Urban Dance module.”
You can still watch Grantchester on ITV Mondays at 9pm or watch past shows here