Jade Hale-Christofi is British/American/Cypriot Greek and grew up in North London and began dancing aged five. He trained at the Urdang Academy London before becoming a Junior Associate of The Royal Ballet School. He joined the Royal ballet School White Lodge and graduated Upper School in 2006. For his graduation performance he danced Don Quixote and Jabula at the Royal Opera House London. As soon as he became a professional ballet Dancer he moved to France and joined National Ballet Du Rhin in 2006, Ballet Black in London 2008, NBA Ballet Japan 2011 where he became guest Principal, The National Ballet Of Ireland 2013 and English National Ballet 2014. In his Ballet career Jade has performed for the Royal Family at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. In 2012 he was asked to dance in a privet performance for Her Majesty The Queen and in 2011 danced for Michelle Obama at the Royal Opera House London.
Jade is in between London and Los Angeles to train at the Actors Studio west in Hollywood 2015. Since being in LA Jade has been working with David LaChapelle on Queen and Michael Jackson's music video "There Must Be More To Life Then This" that he was in and Co Choreographed with Sergei Polunin. He then choreographed his own piece "Take Me To Church" by Hozier for David LaChapelle and Sergei Polunin. As well as being a Ballet Dancer, Contemporary Dancer and Choreographer Jade has modelled for Nick Knight and David LaChapelle. His recent works gave us a chance to ask him a few questions a year ago, when the video by LaChapelle was released and today.
I would like to start with ‘Take me to Church’, as I would be interested in knowing what attracted you and inspired you so much to create the choreography for this particular song.
I was given the music by David LaChapelle and told where it would be set. I think what really inspired me was how much power was in Hozier's voice and knowing how powerful Sergei can be when dancing. I great song can make a piece and I already had the dancer so everything came very easy. I wanted to show people just how amazing male ballet dancers can be. Unless you go to a ballet your probably not going to see them, so this was a way for everyone to see what we can do.
I’m sure you’ve been told this a lot recently, but the video has the power only true masterpieces have: you can watch it repeatedly and it still keeps all its magic. Can you tell me how the idea came to mind and how did the three of you collaborated together?
That's what I tried to create, a piece that captures you. I wanted people to watch it and not get everything the first time so they have to watch it again. I put different gestures in the piece for people to pick up on and to give you a sense of the story and others to make people think about what they are watching. There could be 3 or 4 different stories trying to get through. The idea was in my head but the hard part is always getting it out and with the help of Sergei I think we got pretty close. I had an amazing time working with David and Sergei, I guess that's why everything went so smooth from rehearsals to the shoot. David knows a lot about dance so I think all three of us were on the same page and that allowed us to do the best we could.
How was the location chosen? Was Sergei always meant to dance it?
David LaChapelle chose the location before and thought it would be a great background for a piece. We never saw it until a few days before the shoot but David gave us a good idea of what it would be like and then pictures and ideas started coming into my head. Sergei asked me to choreograph the piece for him. So from day one everything was made for him and his body. The biggest thing for me was that Sergei's fans liked it because it's really for them.
What are the different challenges – from a choreographer’s perspective – between classical and contemporary music?
I can just talk for myself. For me there really isn't much of a difference because some contemporary music can be just as powerful as classical music. So when choreographing a piece I would use music that touches me and would give me great ideas.
Are you working on any particular project for the near future?
Yes, I have just been asked to create a piece for Gala De Danza Mexico and will start rehearsing that with Principal ballet dancer Joseph Caley from Birmingham Royal Ballet on the 2nd of June. So at the moment I'm just playing a piece of music that I'm interested in 24/7 and thinking of different stories that could be told. I grew up with Joseph and know how amazing he is, so I can see him in my head dancing the piece already. I don't think the piece is going to be filmed so not as many people will see it like Take Me To Church but have plans in the future to make a show, this would be one of the pieces and will have it filmed like Take Me To Church.
It’s almost a year since TMTC was released as a video. Are you working on new choreographies?
Yes I have been working on some ideas over the past year. I take my time when putting them together because I don't want them compromised by money or location. I want every dance to be the best it can be, so until I get everything I need to make it what it should be they stay in my head. I have just finished choreographing the first full length 3D hologram movie by Adam Donen called "Symphony to a Lost Generation" and got to work with Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova. It was a great experience getting to work with green screen for the first time and am very proud of how it turned out. Getting to work with your best friend on projects is always something I look forward too. I'm also working on a piece with Natasha Bedingfield, we are going through ideas at the moment, but I have a feeling that we are going to do something very special together.
In our last interview you mentioned a new project in collaboration with Joseph Caley. Would you be so kind as to tell us something more about its progress?
Joseph Caley and I grew up together at the Royal Ballet School and he is one of the best ballet dancers I have ever seen. So, when I think of ideas for a piece, a dancer will pop into my head and then I will base the dance on how they move. The piece is still a concept for now but we talked two weeks ago and I just let him know I'm thinking of him. It's been hard though because we live on the other side of the world and getting the same timetable has been a pain. However, we are definitely going to be working together in the future.
You have been working in the US a lot in the last few months. Do you think there are significant differences in the way dance and ballet are perceived, compared to Europe?
Yes, I think one of the biggest differences is that unlike in Europe the USA dance doesn't get funding from the government. So, it's harder for a kid to get into dance. I know ballet is stronger on The East then The West Coast. There are some small schools out here in L.A but nothing like on the East coast, Europe or Russia. I’m hoping through dance in my music videos that are now more accessible then ever, that more kids will be interested in ballet. Still, having the right schools in place for kids to get the proper training is scarce here. Ballet is something that you have to start early on. After 10 years of training you're at a good enough standard to compete with the rest of the world but that means having things in place when you’re young. There's also the History in Europe and Russia of amazing schools that train and teach kids about the history of where ballet came from, the great dancers in history and the ballet culture. You need these schools dedicated to training young kids. The dancer culture is growing so I can see ballet getting much stronger in the USA but the government funding the arts is only going to help that purposes.
You have recently been involved in a ballet / movie by Javiera Estrada, called ‘The Dream’. What can you tell us about it?
Javiera Estrada is an artist that asked me to dance in an art movie she wanted to direct. My friend from the Royal Ballet Elsa Godard had already been cast so when talking to Javiera and explaining that if I was to do it I would have to choreograph it as well and she agreed it was an easy decision to make. We had two weeks of rehearsals and filmed it in one day. As well as dancing and choreographing I also wanted to edit the dance in the piece just as I co-edited "Take Me To Church" and that’s really where you get to put the story together. I have the footage and am going through it now so hopefully in the next month or two I’ll get to building the piece. The footage looks really great if I can say so myself, but it’s working with Javiera and making sure the dancers in the piece look the best they can. I believe that if you use professional ballet dancers in a piece the standard will be set high and so should everything else.
It’s my understanding you play a significant role in ‘Dancer’ (the soon to be released biopic about Sergei Polunin), was it difficult to contribute to such a comprehensive project about a friend?
I still haven't seen it so I don't know what they have used and what they haven't but it was pretty easy to talk about my best friend. We have grown up together and he's like a brother. I choreographed ‘Take Me To Church’ and also gave them footage of us growing up, I assume they used them for it. I think they will both be well received.
Do you have any plans to work with Sergei again in the near future?
Yes I hope in the next month or two we are going to be working together on a new piece that I have had in my head for some time, but it’s to early to say what it's for and when we will be releasing it.
I imagine you have some performance dates coming up, are you able to tell us about any of them?
I'm really not performing live anymore, I’m trying to put that behind me and move to more video and movie unless it’s a special event like, I was asked to do the Marttels Children's Hospital Benefit UCLA next month and I'm happy to be a part of it.