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    TV hit ‘Peaky Blinders’ expands story through dance show

    LONDON (AP) – Steven Knight looks astounded, almost lost for words. He’s just watched contemporary dance company Rambert run through scenes from the first act of their Peaky Blinders production, based on the hit TV show that he wrote and created.

    Watching the immediate connection between the dancers’ movements and the audience is a revelation for Knight, who has teamed up for a full-length theatre dance show that fills in some of the 1920s gangster drama’s backstory. “I was never into dance. Dance was never a thing for me. I certainly can’t dance myself,” Knight said.

    He was so impressed with the power of dance that he wrote a ballet scene into the show’s fifth season. Recently Knight watched rehearsals of several scenes of the stage show, Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby, which has its world premiere at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Tuesday before touring around the United Kingdom.

    “I want other people to experience what I experience, which is when you see it, it’s like there’s no barrier between you and it,” explained Knight, who wrote the script for the show.

    “It’s not like opera, which I’m sure is fantastic, but you don’t need to be literate in opera or to understand or know the story or anything. Just human beings doing what they do to music. And it’s just astonishingly direct.”

    Conor Kerrigan (L) with fight director Adrian Palmer during a rehearsal for the dance production ‘Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby’. PHOTO: AP

    Rambert Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer is directing and choreographing the production.

    “(Knight) said to me, well, you convey an idea in 30 seconds, and when I do it in the series, it takes me hours to convey that idea. So that’s the power of dance. Dance for me and for everyone. You don’t need to learn the language. It’s the body,” Pouffer said.

    “We speak internationally, so it doesn’t matter where you’re from. You will understand the story.”

    And that goes for people who have never seen Peaky Blinders.

    “We are starting in a way in World War I, which is not what we see in the series. And that explained why Peaky Blinders, are Peaky Blinders,” he said.

    Fans of the BBC series will certainly be familiar with the love story at the heart of the production between crime boss Tommy Shelby and undercover spy Grace Burgess, portrayed on television by Cillian Murphy and Annabelle Wallis.

    “Tommy’s life is difficult. He makes a rod for his own back. He causes his own problems, of course. He’s very conflicted, he’s all of those things that he is in the TV show,” said Knight.

    “But I think with dance – maybe that you don’t see in other forms – is the joy, when there is joy, you see the joy of it.

    “But also even in the tragedy, you see the beauty of it. So it’s a really interesting way of telling the story.”

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