In today’s Sunday Times, Adam Cooper – ex-Royal Ballet dancer, and currently tip-tapping in the West End – talked about the places where he and his elder brother, Simon, grew up. Until their teens they lived in a ‘poky’ flat in Tooting.
The flat was much too small for two energetic boys with a musician father who had instruments, keyboards and sheet music everywhere. Music was so much part of our lives. We used to sing in choirs when we were seven and eight years old.
But when he was thirteen the family moved to a house in Norbury. Just as well since the growing boys had started to dance:
Suddenly, I had lots of space, which gave me the opportunity to make up routines for us. I created different choreography and spent hours mimicking Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. They were our idols when we were growing up. We were also into Michael Jackson and Prince. We learnt most of their routines. I was usually Michael and Simon was Prince.
His father’s passion for music was contagious:
I had a record player in my room. Simon had a TV. I listened to Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, the soundtrack from Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet or Bach violin concertos. Through the walls, I could hear that Simon was next door, glued to the TV.
By the time he was sixteen his Madonna posters had given way to images of his ballet idols:
My bedroom became a shrine to the dancers who were my heroes — Anthony Dowell, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. I added lots of dancers from the Kirov, too, because that year I was lucky enough, as a student, to spend a summer with them at the Royal Opera House.
Adam Cooper is currently starring in Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.