Scott David Jennings
was born in 1988 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK, and at fourteen began a four-year course at The Brit School, a college for performing arts in Croydon, Greater London. Here he discovered his love of contemporary dance and in 2006 switched to the London Contemporary Dance School for a three-year degree. Alongside training in various techniques, he was fascinated above all by the creative possibilities of improvisation. After he finished his degree he was recruited by Matthew Bourne for his Swan Lake, and performed it in Europe, Asia and the US. Subsequently he worked freelance with choreographers such as Luca Sivestrini, Melly Still, Maxine Doyle and Alexandra Waierstall, taught and led workshops in the UK, Italy, the US and Chile.
Something raw but human
He was sixteen when he first saw work by Pina Bausch, the double bill of Café Müller and The Rite of Spring, in London. In its mixture of ‘rawness’ and something ‘profoundly human’ it left a deep impression on him. Several years later, during the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London, Jennings had the chance to see a whole series of works by the Tanztheater Wuppertal in a short space of time. He was overwhelmed by the richness of the images, little stories, dances, colours and music, all provoking a wide range of emotions. He went to Wuppertal to audition that same year, not only because he had always been interested in theatre as well as dance, but also because he wanted to experience the magic of the pieces from the inside. He was accepted and immediately cast in several pieces from the repertoire.
A world of its own
The initial months were intense. He had to process a wealth of information. It was not a case, however, simply of learning particular movements and sequences or the correct timing. More than this, it was about a particular attitude, a way of being, about grasping the idea behind the actions in order to fill a role. It had to be rediscovered and reinvented by every performer when they took over a part in a piece. This is a journey into a particular world and ultimately for each performer a journey into themselves as well. It took time and continual empathy. Starting with Der Fensterputzer (The Window Washer) Jennings learnt many other pieces: Iphigenie auf Tauris, The Rite of Spring, Kontakthof, Bandoneon, Nelken (Carnations), Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört (On the mountain a cry was heard), Viktor, Ahnen, Palermo Palermo, Danzón, Wiesenland, For the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow and Vollmond (Full Moon). In 2015 he also appeared in the new work created for the Tanztheater Wuppertal by François Chaignaud and Cecilia Bengolea. Initially he was given smaller roles, and his first big challenge came with playing Lutz Förster’s role in Nelken (Carnations). He had to find the correct balance, on the one hand giving the piece what it needed, on the other not imitating his predecessor but being himself, which he found easier on some nights than others. The important thing was to maintain the tension, not to retreat into apparent security but to remain vulnerable as a performer on stage, and as such tangible. The maintenance of this openness is integral to Pina Bausch’s work and guarantees it a transparency which is more than just a perfectly executed show. At the end of the 2017/18 season Scott Jennings left the Tanztheater Wuppertal to dedicate himself to his own projects.
Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Steph Morris