Procol Harum

the Pale

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Delta: the Brooker ballet

from the original programme

Delta had its first performance on 20 December 1990, at The Royal Theatre, Copenhagen.
Niels-Erik Mortensen kindly translated the following programme-excerpts for 'Beyond the Pale'.


Choreography: Laura Dean

Costumes: Laura Dean

Lighting design: Craig Miller

Music: Gary Brooker

Conductor: Marcus Lehtinen

Director: Laura Dean

Delta and Laura Dean
by Marilyn Hunt

'My ballets are abstract, but due to the presence of the dancer, I do not consider them abstract dancing,' says highly esteemed post-modern American choreographer Laura Dean. 'The personality of the dancer means a lot to me.' In Laura Dean's ballets many movements are repeated and sometimes performed in synchronisation.

The costumes designed for the ballet Delta at The Royal Theatre are all kept white and quite simple. Delta is an ensemble work for 16 dancers, considered by Laura Dean to be 16 solo dancers owing to the individual episodes and pas de deuxs.

She received her dancing training in classical as well as modern dance at the School of American Ballet, New York, among other places. She has performed in the most respected dancing companies such as those companies of Paul Taylor and Paul Sanasardo, both highly respected modern dance companies.

Laura Dean has been most thrilled working with The Royal Ballet. 'It has been a wonderful dialogue,' she says. 'These dancers are so open-minded, always willing to try something new, very much in focus, and I have always felt very welcome here. They have a great sense of humour, too.'

People dance because of the joy of dancing itself and having a good time. [Excerpts]

Marilyn Hunt is an American ballet critic, writing for Dance Magazine a.o.

Gary Brooker with choreographer Laura Dean

Gary Brooker
by [Procol biographer-to-be] Claes Johansen

In 1969 when Gary Brooker (born 1945) published the single A Salty Dog with his band Procol Harum, the group was already an established name. Two years earlier, their breakthrough was made reality with the song, A Whiter Shade of Pale, a giant hit combining all the musical power of rock, soul and rhythm’n’blues with the weight of gothic baroque music.

Likewise A Salty Dog integrated classical music but in another and less definable way. The 'weird' harmonies, basically derived from the whistle tones of bypassing trains Brooker had heard, almost ruled out the possibility of another commercial success obtained by A Whiter Shade of Pale. Nevertheless, A Salty Dog found an audience, especially in this country [Denmark] where Procol Harum during their entire ten year career enjoyed a large and faithful audience.

A Salty Dog became the second turning-point for Procol Harum, turning around music history: Even if Gary Brooker never had any formal training in scoring for symphony orchestra, he had come up with arrangements for strings that largely extended the perspectives for what could be allowed in terms of modern music.

This was not to become Gary Brooker’s or Procol Harum’s last flirtation with the classical orchestra. In Canada in December 1971 ['November 1971' was stated on record, Niels-Erik notes] the band recorded a performance together with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a mixed choir. All arrangements were written by Brooker, thus adding to a school of well-known Procol Harum songs some quite new aspects with his overwhelming sense of style, respect, mastery and taste. Brooker’s talent may be pointed out by the fact that the perhaps strongest arrangement of the entire record, Conquistador, was written in the last moment -- in the plane on the way to the concert, actually!

Procol Harum Live In Concert turned out to be the biggest commercial success for Procol Harum since the first single, thus rewarding Gary Brooker for ten years of hard work. The son of Harry Brooker, a guitar-player with The Felix Mendelssohn’s Hawaiian Serenaders, an entertainment act with some reputation back in the England of the forties and the fifties, he had from the very start been singled out for a life in the limelight. At the age of five he had begun taking piano lessons, and at seven his father occasionally took him on stage to play duets together.

A break occurred when the family moved in the mid-fifties to Southend, a dreary English provincial town on the south-eastern coast between Harwich and Dover. His father died when Gary was eleven, and approximately a year later the boy took up piano lessons again.

The early sixties brought to Southend a major musical 'boom' as happened in other English coastal towns such as especially Liverpool and Newcastle. Brooker played in The Paramounts, a quintet much inspired by Ray Charles inter alia. One night when the singer in the band didn’t show up, the other band members forced Gary to take over the mike, doing so well that he never was to let it go again. The Paramounts recorded a few singles, totally drowning among the many other English recordings of the mid-sixties. They toured around most parts of Europe, spending longer periods in Copenhagen.

When success failed to come the band returned to England, disbanding some time in the late summer of 1966. Instead Brooker allied with the poet Keith Reid making plans to become a songwriting team in the wings. Soon, this idea turned out to be a blind alley and the two gentlemen started advertising for musicians for the band later known as Procol Harum.

Finding an audience mainly in the USA and on the Continent, Brooker led the band through many line-up changes all the way through a glorious ten years career, ten albums and quite a lot of singles.

In the wake of the Procol Harum disbanding, Brooker has slowed down somewhat. At this moment the result has been three solo albums and a number of sporadic appearances, with or without symphony orchestras.

The attachment to Denmark is long and strong. That is why it is by no means coincidental that Gary Brooker is being given a possibility in Copenhagen to prove the strength of his talents to the limits by composing entirely for the classical orchestra.

Claes Johansen is a writer

Craig Miller

Lighting designer Craig Miller has previously worked with The Royal Theatre, designing the stage lighting for Lar Lubovitch’s Les Noces. He is associated with the Santa Fe Opera, but has worked together with most major theatres and companies in the USA, and was nominated by the American theatrical critics for a Tony Award for his lighting design for the Broadway musical, Barnum.


Other pages concerning the Brooker Ballet

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