Quinny was a dancer with Rambert Dance Company, Tanz Forum Koln and the Béjart Ballet before focussing on choreography and producing.
Her work as a choreographer and movement director has involved rich collaborations with directors, composers and designers. She has a wide and varied experience in film, television, theatre and opera and she is as comfortable choreographing large set dances as she is when working on a one-to-one basis, enabling non-dancers to discover their physical journey.
Quinny Sacks is an established choreographer, who easily transcends that job description, encompassing other genres with ease. She has a broad mastery of dance vocabulary, and a rare understanding of movement in terms of dramatic context.
I have seen much of her work on stage, in dance, theatre and opera, and have had the pleasure and advantage of working with her on film, as choreographer for two films I directed, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN. Each had different requirements, and she approached both assignments from the inside out, seeking to articulate the dramatic needs through movement, rather than decorating or illustrating in a void, and produced sequences of great beauty and style.
On stage her work can have a quite distinctive signature - fresh, witty, and left-handed - but she is equally able to immerse herself in the larger picture, producing work that does not draw attention to itself at the expense of story, but supports and expands it. And she has the gift of communication – in my case the ability to train and inspire a disparate group of non-dancers by charm, gentle encouragement, and stealth.
She’s a precious resource.
I don’t know whether it’s the effect of bleak middle age, the onslaught of Christmas or the general awfulness of the weather and everything on the news, but I found the sunlit innocence of Salad Days (which I’ve never seen or heard before) almost heartbreaking.
Written in the mid-1950s, only a decade after we’d been ravaged by war, Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade’s skilfully crafted yet unfailingly modest little musical radiates youthful optimism and unsinkable niceness.
Rebellion against an older generation isn’t the bitter and twisted business that it is in Osborne’s contemporary Look Back in Anger, but a simple matter of falling in love. Minnie the magic piano’s Dionysiac capacity to make everyone dance only helps the stuffed shirts loosen up a bit; nowadays it would start an apocalyptic omnisexual orgy.
Even an invasion from outer space turns out to be benign. Where did the rot of cynicism set into our culture, and what good has it done us?
Tete a Tete is best known as an opera group dedicated to experiment and novelty, but here it has lent itself to the even nobler cause of cheering us all up.
This revival of Bill Bankes-Jones’ production, first seen at Riverside Studios last year, is just about pitch-perfect: it refuses to send the whole thing up or put a stylistic bomb under its fragile charm, yet never allows the whimsy to become too cloyingly saccharine. Much of its success is due to Tim Meacock’s resourceful designs, bright with primary colours but still full of sharply observed period detail.
Accompanied by a combo of two pianos, drums and bass, the cast is first-rate throughout, and as a puritan in this matter, I took special pleasure in hearing words and lyrics of this sort cleanly delivered without recourse to phoney amplification.
Sam Harrison and Katie Moore are very endearing as the dippy young lovers Tim and Jane, Rebecca Caine does a hilarious turn as languid Lady Raeburn and Kathyrn Martin puts across Asphynxia’s smoochy nightclub number with aplomb. The dancing, choreographed by Quinny Sacks, is terrific: I almost volunteered to join in myself.
For my money, this has got to be the best musical in town: of course it’s only frothy nonsense, but the songs and the sentiments are just lovely, and you’d have to be very sneery or downright peculiar not to enjoy every minute of it.
Salad Days, Riverside Studios, London
"We said we wouldn't look back" goes the wistful refrain but, like Lot's wife, we always do, and we don't even turn into a pillar of salt. Just jelly. The last West End revival of this delightful 1954 revue-cum-musical was a bit of a trial. Everyone tried too hard. But the little opera company Tête-à-Tête really does it delightfully well. "Oh, look at me, I'm dancing," cry the helpless Hyde Park habitués as they are spun into limb-wrangling postures of marionettish animation – brilliant choreography by Quinny Sacks – at the touch of an outdoor magic piano.
This expertly sung and vocally unamplified revival by director Bill Bankes-Jones lit up the November gloom last year and returns to defy the big freeze. It's all about summer and sunshine, and falling in love: Timothy and Jane are "coming down" from Oxford and must find themselves something to do in a world hedged with demands, mess-ups, "suitable" fiancés and limited prospects.
It all now seems charmingly poised at the new Elizabethan moment of emergence from post-War austerity and rationing into the great period of prosperity and global stability from which we are now in such rapid retreat. Hence the renewed poignancy of sheer escapism, old-fashioned revue sketches, unforced melody and carefreedancing.
The Oxford idyll was nothing to do with learning. The dons are dancing and ridiculous; as are the police and clergy, the foreign office (where the Cold War paranoia in "Hush-hush" has a nice WikiLeaks application) and the visiting uncle on a flying saucer.
Timothy and Jane take care of Minnie the piano (she's a relic of the Great Exhibition, with two lamps and five octaves) after meeting a kindly old tramp. The resultant terpsichorean epidemic is denounced by the Minister of Pastimes and Pleasure: tangos, congas, Charleston, even a hint of the dance marathons. With chases and other diversions, we arrive back ("ooh-ah, out of breath") in the park, looking for a pi-ah-no ("not any old pi-ah-no") and a resolution to move on when Minnie finds new owners.
The company plays it straight, with a fine regard for New Look costume (Tim Meacock designs) and correct, period enunciation. Sam Harrison repeats his irresistible, slightly sill-ass performance as Timothy, and Katie Moore makes a lovely professional debut as Jane.