Posted: February 13th, 2017 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Adophe Binder, Ditta Miranda Jasjfi, legacy, Masurca Fogo, Mats Ek, Merce Cunningham, Nazareth Panadero, Pina Bausch, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch | Comments Off on Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: Masurca Fogo
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Masurca Fogo, Sadler’s Wells, February 9
Ruth Amarante in Masurca Fogo (photo: Zerrin Aydin-Herwegh)
This is difficult to write because I love the way Pina Bausch was able to distill experience into gesture and form with such elegance and wit. When she died unexpectedly in 2009, there remained her legacy of rich, exuberant works but without the exacting spirit that conceived them. Inevitably, despite the best efforts to keep the works alive by subsequent directors and by the dancers themselves, the company has had to remember this spirit instead of experience it; its focus remains on the past. For a lesser company a hiatus in its ability to maintain the repertoire after the death of its sole founder and choreographer might have happened five years ago, and it is a measure of the level of artistry in the company that we have been able for so long to enjoy the works Bausch built up from her seemingly inexhaustible creative energy. But eight years is a long time to be reviving the past and, significantly, a third of the present company never had the opportunity to work with Bausch. One of the ways she created material was to ask her dancers questions to which they would respond in movement, words in any way they felt appropriate; how can such a personal response be transferred from one dancer to another? While Masurca Fogo may not be the strongest work in Bausch’s repertoire, watching it on Thursday night I sensed the point has been reached that since the company is no longer challenged by Bausch’s presence to develop new works they appear to be losing the ability to fully inhabit her older ones. Last seen in London in 2003, Masurca Fogo is like seeing a Bausch work set on another company (I wonder how Rite of Spring will fare in the bodies of English National Ballet); it is not difficult to see the beauty in its inspiration, but its carefully conceived details — the very life of the work — had lost their brilliance for routine. There are still moments that jump out as before, like the solo of Ditta Miranda Jasjfi or the interventions of Nazareth Panadero, but these only serve to remind us what we are missing.
Nostalgia, however, is a very powerful sentiment and Bausch’s repertoire works intoxicatingly on our memories, so brightly did these works dance in their day. But has a romantic notion crept into our attendance at these revivals whereby we unwittingly accept a weakening in Bausch’s unerring sense of living theatre in return for the pleasure of seeing them again? And if this ongoing pleasure on behalf of the audience (houses continue to sell out) remains, it is clear the incentive (however well-meaning) for venues to invite the company will continue. And if this is so, is there not a danger in this drawn-out descending spiral of artistic integrity that the performers are singing the praises of their muse rather than singing their muse’s inspiration? Or worse still, are the performers — at least those who worked with Bausch —in danger of becoming parodies of their former selves and thus condemning the works to a similar fate? All these questions occurred to me after seeing Masurca Fogo.
The question of a dance legacy has been raised before, notably by Merce Cunningham who established a three-year plan to address the process of dismantling his company and Foundation after his death, and more recently by Mats Ek, who has begun to withdraw performing rights for his work where he is no longer able to personally supervise their revivals. Perhaps Bausch’s sudden death rendered unresolved any plan for her legacy. For the 2017/18 season, Adolphe Binder, will be the first ‘outsider’ to take over the artistic direction of the company. Binder will be bringing in choreographers to create new works on the dancers, but she also has the responsibility, along with the other members of the company and their collaborators, to maintain the Bausch legacy. Cunningham closed down his company and established a Trust to ‘preserve and enhance’ his legacy; Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch has taken another path but one that, judging by this performance of Masurca Fogo, does not augur well for the artistic fulfilment of Bausch’s legacy. Even if she had wished it.
Posted: October 10th, 2014 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Ana Laguna, Anders Högstedt, Anthony Lomuljo, Arsen Mehrabyan, Dawid Kupinski, Hokuto Kodama, Jérôme Marchand, Juliet & Romeo, Linus Fellbom, Magdalena Åberg, Mariko Kida, Mats Ek, Royal Swedish Ballet | Comments Off on Royal Swedish Ballet: Mats Ek’s Juliet & Romeo
Royal Swedish Ballet, Juliet & Romeo, Sadler’s Wells, September 27
Mariko Kida and Anthony Lomuljo in Mats Ek’s Juliet & Romeo (photo: Gert Weigelt)
When you are familiar with a particular interpretation of a classic work it tends to provide an emotional and intellectual framework to which a new one will inevitably be compared. The first Romeo and Juliet I saw was Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 production for the Royal Ballet and its story line, characters and its Prokofiev score have since become a benchmark. Now, nearly fifty years later, Mats Ek has produced a new version of Shakespeare’s play for the Royal Swedish Ballet, but its break with MacMillan’s treatment is so fresh that it commands attention.
Perhaps most importantly, Ek has chosen to cast aside Prokofiev’s original music in favour of a composite score of Tchaikovsky’s familiar and less familiar works (chosen by Ek and adapted and arranged by Anders Högstedt) that are nonetheless rich enough in fanfare, emotion and minor keys to colour and support the action. The choice of music frees Ek — who can draw from his experience as stage director as well as choreographer — to establish his own vision of Shakespeare’s play.
The backdrop of Verona is dropped, too, in favour of Magdalena Åberg’s set of steely, movable panels that suggest no particular place or time and which, rearranged by the dancers and transformed by Linus Fellbom’s lighting, become the walls, alleys and interior spaces in which the story unfolds. This choreographic manipulation of the stage elements echoes a constant theme of encroaching violence: Åberg‘s elegant, autumnal-coloured costumes engulf the bright yellow dress of Juliet but cannot extinguish it and the trapdoor in the stage through which Romeo first appears becomes the lovers’ grave.
Ek has stripped the cast of principal characters to a minimum. There is only one family, that of Juliet: her mother and father, her cousins Tybalt and Rosaline, her nurse, her nurse’s servant, Peter, and her suitor Paris. By comparison, Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio are seen as stateless outsiders. The only figure of (ineffectual) authority is the Prince whom we first see skating into a headwind to the opening theme of the First Piano Concerto in B Flat minor.
Those who search for the story in the printed program may be flummoxed and perhaps irritated by the lack of a synopsis as not all the characters are immediately identifiable. It is worth remembering that Shakespeare’s play does not begin with an outline of the plot, either. He provided the dramatis personae and the setting but it was left up to the audience to deduce the story from the snippets of chorus and the dialogue between the characters. Ek’s approach is the same: the ‘text’ is his richly poetic choreographic language in which metaphor and simple character traits are juxtaposed with such mastery that he can transport us vividly not only into the lives of his protagonists but also into his overarching themes. If you see Juliet & Romeo in the same way you might listen to Wagner without knowing the story, the emotional clout will remain with you long after you have studied and forgotten the complexities of the narrative.
While the choreography carries the story — in particular the love duet at the end of the first act between Juliet (Mariko Kida) and Romeo (Anthony Lomuljo) that contains all the rapturous enthusiasm and abandon of first love — there are two characters who rise above the story through the fullness of their portrayal. Ana Laguna as Juliet’s nurse has a heart that balances compassion for her ward with an irreverent sense of fun. The weight and authority of her gestures and her freedom of expression make her utterly convincing. The portrayal of Romeo’s friend Mercutio (Jérôme Marchand) as a brash, warm-hearted homosexual attracts both the devotion of Benvolio (Hokuto Kodama) as his chirpy guardian angel and the venom of Tybalt (Dawid Kupinski) whose steely machismo astride his Segway bears an eerie resemblance to Vladimir Putin on horseback. Bare-chested in his black leather pants and tutu, Marchand is like a jester whose convoluted and bawdy personality is at constant risk in a homophobic society. When Tybalt kills him in a brawl, the ugly sub-story is one of gay bashing. When Juliet dies at the hand of her father (Arsen Mehrabyan), the ugly sub story is that of honour killings. These two deaths are not lost in the mists of history to contrast with a beautiful love story, but are a reminder that such insidious violence can erupt — and does erupt — within our own society.
The impression Juliet & Romeo leaves is that of a morality play of our time, a meditation on the tragic consequences of discriminatory authority. The final scene of the full cast lying on their backs and raising their legs in solidarity with those of the upturned corpses of the two lovers is Ek’s transcendent metaphor for change.
Posted: September 22nd, 2014 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Ana Laguna, Carmen Aros, Dominque Mercy, Elixir Festival, Generación del Ayer, Hofesh Schechter, In Your Rooms, Jane Hackett, Jonathan Burrows, KnowBody, Lo Que Me Dio El Agua, Mats Ek, Matteo Fargion, Memory, Pascal Merighi, Potato, Sadler's Wells, Sonia Uribe, That Paper Boy, The Elders Project | 1 Comment »
KnowBody, Elixir Festival, Sadler’s Wells, September 12
Mats Ek and Ana Laguna in Memory (photo: Stephanie Berger)
The image on the front of the program (above) is of Mats Ek and his wife Ana Laguna in a duet called Memory. It is a fitting image, not only because Ek and Laguna in that fleeting moment express all the joy and sensuality of their lived experience, but almost the entire evening — the opening salvo of Sadler’s Wells Elixir Festival — is about memory, the kind of memory that dancers call body, or muscle memory. Dancers don’t simply learn steps like facts to repeat them on stage; they embody them on both a physical and emotional level through the mechanism of repetition and the stimulus is often, but not always, music. The body and mind of a dancer thus constitute a treasury of memories that can, as the Elixir Festival proved convincingly, offer up their remarkable wealth or even be coaxed out of a state of voluntary hibernation.
Matteo Fargion and Jonathan Burrows do just that in The Elders Project, weaving remembered movement phrases of a select group of retired dancers into a droll, intelligent, touching collage of their dancing lives. Kenneth Tharp, Geraldine Morris, Linda Gibbs, Brian Bertscher, Anne Donnelly, Christopher Bannerman, Lizie Saunderson, Betsy Gregory and Namron provide a unique glimpse into what once was, but more interestingly, what still is and could be again. There is a palpable emotional response from the audience who are either reliving past memories or are simply drawn into the delightful euphoria of the work, or both.
Mats Ek is one of the early champions of mining the expressive quality of mature dancers, and with his extensive experience in theatre and dance he has developed a mastery for choreographing theatre. His first duet with Laguna, Potato, is a reminder that a simple idea — sharing a bag of potatoes — can be heightened into something universal by the corresponding depth of experience of the dancers performing it. Ek’s work is not overly concerned with technique, but more with ‘a lyrical approach which conveys through movement the underlying emotions and feelings rather than just the narrative detail.’ His pared-down and often idiosyncratic vocabulary draws in the spectator through its unpretentious, ludic sense of reality.
To watch Dominique Mercy in the solo, That Paper Boy, created on him by Pascal Merighi is to be transported to a state of physical and emotional weightlessness, nowhere more so than in the section he dances to the Reckoning Song by Asaf Avidan (‘one day baby we’ll be old, think about all the stories that we could have told…’). With fourty years of performing with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, he can elicit the same kind of attention whether he stands still (as he does at the beginning), dances, recites an existential text on silence and death, or scans himself with a neon light. As with Ek and Laguna, his every stance or gesture, however small or transitory, is filled with both genial abandon and infallible conviction; his physical and emotional intelligence leaves no room for half measures.
In an evening that celebrates the value of maturity, Hofesh Shechter chooses to restage part of an existing work, In Your Rooms, by replacing younger dancers with older ones (Sadler’s Wells own Company of Elders). According to the program notes, this is an adaptation ‘to suit the bodies and life stories of this older group of dancers’ but in the overpowering music and claustrophobic choreography there is more a sense of oppression than setting free. Perhaps that is what Shechter wants, but it sets his choreographic vision above the potential of his dancers.
Jane Hackett, the creative producer and guiding spirit behind the Elixir Festival, invited the Chilean company, Generación del Ayer, to perform at the Elixir Festival after seeing them in their hometown of Santiago. Unique on this evening’s roster, this is an artist’s collective founded in 1996 specifically to allow professional dancers to continue their artistic life cycle beyond what is culturally accepted. Lo Que Me Dio El Agua (what the water tells me) is choreographed by Sonia Uribe as a tribute to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and is inspired by her painting Las dos Fridas (The Two Fridas). Both Uribe and Carmen Aros perform with a passion and pride commensurate with their inspiration, but the ritual stylization of the work sets it apart from the predominantly European aesthetic in which it is presented.
The evening finishes with another duet, Memory, from Ek and Laguna that reminds us yet again of the huge gap that exists in current dance repertoire where youthful athleticism trumps the art of age. Ek and Laguna dispel this myth with a poignant refusal to take leave, a gentle kicking against the dying of the light that is candid, playful and yes, timeless.
Posted: July 4th, 2013 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Arietta, Aurélie Cayla, Beethoven, David Morrow, Dirk Haubrich, Jiří Kylián, Katrin Brännström, Kees Tjebbes, Lukas Timulak, Massimo Murru, Mats Ek, Rachel Shipp, Sadler's Wells, Sylvie Guillem, William Forsythe | Comments Off on Sylvie Guillem: 6,000 Miles Away
Sylvie Guillem, 6000 Miles Away, Sadler’s Wells, May 21
Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Bye. Photo Lesley Leslie-Spinks
The evening of dance Sylvie Guillem was putting together in March 2011 might have been called simply ‘Sylvie Guillem and Friends’ if her rehearsals with William Forsythe in London had not coincided with the devastating tsunami that hit Japan. Calling the new program 6000 Miles Away was Guillem’s way of keeping in mind those who were suffering the effects of that environmental disaster (she raised £80,000 for the Red Cross Tsunami appeal at the original 2011 performances at Sadler’s Wells), but the title also neatly ties in with a charity Guillem supports, Sea Shepherd, among whose projects is the protection of whale habitats from the illegal practices of the Japanese whaling fleet. This in turn seems at least 6,000 miles from the playful, ecstatic image of Guillem on the publicity material under the names of three iconic choreographers, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe and Mats Ek. Welcome to the world of Sylvie Guillem. She serves on the Media and Arts Advisory Board of Sea Shepherd and Sadler’s Wells this time round devoted an evening to fundraise for the charity, presenting a short filmed message from founding skipper Paul Watson, who could have been, yes, 6,000 miles away.
The attraction of the evening is indisputably Guillem herself, but she does not dance in all three works. It seems she commissioned Forsythe and Ek to make works for this program but the duet from Kylián’s 27’52” — in which Guillem does not dance — dates from 2002 and has no direct relation to her. Alistair Spalding’s welcome note in the program simply links the three works by stating that they showcase the work of ‘three creators who have held a special place in Sylvie’s career’ but Sarah Crompton in her article on the making of 6000 Miles Away makes no mention of Kylián at all. This suggests either that plans to commission Kylián to create a work for Guillem came to nothing, or that the duet from 27’52” — danced here by Aurélie Cayla and Lukas Timulak — was an afterthought.
As the curtain rises, Cayla and Timulak are on stage, she in a red top (later removed) and black pants standing in a spotlight and he lying in black pants and stripped to the waist at the edge of the floor. Lit beautifully by Kees Tjebbes, the stage is a clean canvas on which Kylián highlights with quiet precision the beauty of the articulated, semi-naked bodies in movement, something we can expect from him even when he is not at his most inspired. The problem is not with the choreography, nor with the dancing, nor with the score by Dirk Haubrich: the duet just doesn’t fit on the program; without Guillem’s creative involvement, it has an energy and identity at odds with the other two works, and deprives the evening of any unity.
Rearray is a duet of minimal form danced in and out of intermittent lighting conditions (Forsythe’s concept, Rachel Shipp’s realisation) that have an overly dominant role. There are so many blackouts, exits and entrances that the only way we recognize the end is when the dancers don’t come on again. When the lighting gets overly complex, one senses Rearray is a work that uses Guillem to show off Forsythe, but there are other luminous passages when Forsythe is clearly showing off Guillem. Dressed in t-shirt and jeans she performs what appears to be a series of relaxed, impromptu dances but has the ability to create starkly precise and beautiful shapes that seem to imprint themselves in the air. Her partner on this occasion, Massimo Murru, doesn’t have quite the same alchemy, which in a piece where partnering in the old sense is less in demand than an equality of presence keeps the equation one-sided. Forsythe gives him an arresting solo, however, in which his hands appear to be tied behind him, like a puppet unable to escape his own serfdom. David Morrow’s music is not an easy listen, but Forsythe evidently relishes its intricacy and in a lighter moment shares its humour: the fourth section begins as both dancers, facing upstage, simply bend their knees to the rhythm of Morrow’s score, creating a simple, articulated pattern that is both rich and quirky. Forsythe’s mastery of the stage remains undimmed, and it is a real joy to see Guillem responding to his direction even in a work that spends far too much time concealing her.
After the strong taste of Forsythe, Ek’s constant stream of ludic ideas in Bye is as refreshing as a sorbet. Ek, one feels, has put his choreography at the service of the artist, and Guillem returns his devotion in full. Katrin Brännström’s set is like a room with a small door in the back through which we see a black and white projection (thanks to Elias Benxon) of Guillem’s giant, cyclopic eye; the image of her face moves across the doorway/screen to reveal her other eye, then she walks away until she reaches stage size. Returning to peer through the glass, her real hands now appear over the doorframe as extensions of her filmed image. She is pigtailed, dressed in a yellow skirt, a green pullover and bobby socks (costumes by the ever-ingenious Brännström), a long-legged gamine playing games to her heart’s content. Erik Berglund’s lighting picks out both her line and the architectural elements beautifully, and enhances the playful colours of her costume. Ek uses the Arietta movement of Beethoven’s final piano sonata, op 111, shaping the rhythmic content and painting delightfully irreverent images that Guillem plays with her entire body as if on an instrument. Ek seems to derive his vocabulary from an array of sources including classical dance, yoga, everyday gestures and the sculptural forms of Henry Moore. As the sonata becomes more rhythmic and playful, so does Guillem, taking off her cardigan, shoes and socks, improvising as if in her own room like a clown or Raggedy Ann doll with her leg thrown nonchalantly up to her forehead. A man appears at the door looking in and glancing impatiently at his watch. How long will Guillem be? He goes away. She yawns, rolls over, and stands on her head. A virtual labrador comes to the door and sits down patiently, but eventually he, too, moves on. Guillem remains oblivious of time, bouncing to the luscious chords of the sonata with joyful abandon. Ek narrows our focus for a moment to the projected outlines of a bed on which Guillem lies. We concentrate on her hand gestures against the black and her form is like a goddess eating grapes, the pose from the poster. She stands on her head again, watched by a growing number of children at the door but finally puts on her socks and shoes. In the cadenza she dances a little madness before stepping outside and looking back wistfully at the interior world of her colourful imagination that she must regretfully leave to face the black and white reality outside.
Posted: September 13th, 2012 | Author: Nicholas Minns | Filed under: Performance | Tags: Charlotte Broom, Christopher Akrill, Clemmie Sveaas, Didy Veldman, HeadSpaceDance, Javier De Frutos, Luca Silvestrini, Mats Ek | Comments Off on HeadSpaceDance: Three & Four Quarters
HeadSpaceDance, Three and Four Quarters, Linbury Studio Theatre, September 11
There is a story of JMW Turner on varnishing day at the Royal Academy. In 1832, when Constable exhibited his painting, Opening of Waterloo Bridge, it was placed next to a seascape of Turner’s – a grey picture, beautiful in its own watery way, but with no positive color in any part of it. Constable’s Waterloo, by contrast, seemed as if painted with liquid gold and silver, and Turner came several times into the room while Constable was heightening with vermillion and lake the decorations of flags of the city barges. Turner stood beside him, looking from the Waterloo to his own picture, and at last brought his palette from another room. Putting a round daub of red lead, somewhat bigger than a shilling, on his grey sea, he then went away without saying a word. The intensity of the red lead, made more vivid by the coolness of his picture, caused even the vermilion and lake of Constable to look weak. ‘He has been here,’ said Constable to his colleagues after Turner had left ‘and fired a gun.’
I will come back to this.
HeadSpaceDance’s debut evening of premières, Three & Four Quarters, at the Linbury Studio Theatre, opens with Javier de Frutos’ Studies in M, with what appears to be three of the four cygnets from Swan Lake danced to the first movement of Bach’s concerto for oboe and violin which is repeated three times as the dancers regroup and embellish their disintegrating links. Christopher Akrill, Charlotte Broom and Clemmie Sveaas appear to know each other well; their performing history suggests it and there is a harmony and ease in their styles, a complicity rather than a familiarity. There is even a similarity in appearance, though this is possibly the softening effect of Fabrice Serafino’s androgynous nightdresses with tendril-like tassels and grey socks they each wear. The choreography also seems at ease, but this is the illusion of a performance that is timed and spaced to perfection; to repair the delicately absentminded breaching of their choreographic patterns is only an artful step away, a slight realignment of an errant arm or head. The structure of the trio follows Bach’s musical precision, though De Frutos takes advantage of the trio’s subtle, subversive humour and their quiet dramatic presence to keep them at times on the music’s lyrical path and at others insouciantly off it. At the end only Sveaas is left on stage, focusing intently on her movement phrases until Bach stops and she is left somewhere between the silence and the ticking of a clock. She walks half-way off, hesitates, then creeps quietly through the door at the back. There is applause, but no bows; the evening is programed as one work in several acts.
Akrill and Sveaas reappear from that same door carrying a roll of white, padded material that they unroll on the floor like a giant duvet. This is the bedroom setting of Didy Veldman’s insomniac In the skin I’m in 1, the first of his triptych of autobiographical portraits of each of the dancers. Veldman writes in his notes that in working with the dancers, he had set them a task of writing down their thoughts for five minutes. ‘This text was so interesting that it became the basis for what we’ve created together.’ Broom is recapping her to do list: teabags, phone Carole, tap: thoughts that punctuate this delightful watercolour sketch. The music, Alexander Balanescu’s Aria, is a perfect choice for Broom’s sleepless solo in which she uses the duvet as her stage, rolling in it, jumping on it, hiding her head under it, shuffling across it and pulling at a corner with her teeth. The advantage of watching from the balcony is that you can see the beautiful patterns she makes with the duvet. Broom has a childlike, playful quality that is infectious. Towards the end, as she throws herself again and again on the piled up duvet, she is laughing, and so are we. She suddenly remembers something she has to do, gathers up the duvet and drags it off.
Set to Satie’s Gymnopedies No. 3, Akrill’s portrait, In the skin I’m in 2, starts with watery images in a more outdoor, autumnal setting. Veldman accentuates Akrill’s long legs and arms, suggesting insecurity in his uncertain equilibrium. He has a secret that he wants to let out but can’t; he makes mistakes, but shrugs his shoulders or hides his head under his top. Like Broom’s portrait, it is dreamlike, punctuated not by verbal reminders but by some beautifully lyrical acrobatics, and at the end it is the element of air that prevails: inflating a plastic bag of nuts he has just finished, Akrill carefully ties it up. I think he is going to burst it, but instead he lies down next to it on the floor and blows it gently towards the wings.
For those who have not shuffled out to the bar, the interval is a continuation of the relaxed relationship the dancers have created with the audience and gives a sense of their ownership of the stage. Sveaas warms up while Broom brings in a chair and sweeps the stage; they chat, Sveaas puts down a centre mark and checks it with Akrill who has just arrived as if he is about to leave, in smart shirt and trousers with a backpack over his shoulder. There is some lighting focus, a consultation about a bump in the floor, and the three rehearse some moves. All is made clear after the interval with Luca Silvestrina’s After the Interval, ‘a piece about dance and dancers’ that makes a performance out of the dancers’ preparations. It starts ironically at the end with a parody of bows and works backwards, shining a light on rehearsals, the process of marking, the difficulty of talking through moves, the frustrations and contradictions of too many corrections, snatches of biography from an imaginary question-and-answer session and a run-through in the studio of a Brahms Intermezzo that is beautiful and beautifully danced (in relaxed studio mode, we are led to believe, without anybody watching). It is fun, it is light, it is cleverly put together but it is essentially introspective and as self-referencing as the previous works. We are getting to over three quarters of the way through the evening, and the introduction to the company has barely changed gear. Sveaas is still to come with her Veldman portrait, In the skin I’m in 3, set to another piece by Alexander Balanescu, Empty House Space. The pace increases, as this is more energetic than the other two portraits, more intense and serious, a balancing act between sunshine and shadow in the form of long horizontal bars of light across the stage. It is a fighting solo, with agitated arms and elbows and frenetic hands and fingers, Sveaas’ body falling and recovering, with both weight and a sense of being lost in space. The lighting (by Simon Bennison throughout the program) works closely with the choreography, removing one bar of light at a time until Sveaas (happily) walks off along the one remaining.
Broom then opens the door at the back of the stage and steps in, holding the door for Akrill to follow; light pours in and the colours of Broom’s skirt and blouse blast the stage with energy, light and emotion at the beginning of this extract from Light Beings, by Mats Ek. The music is the Andante Festivo by Jean Sibelius, a festive piece to which Ek adds an acutely colourful variety of gestures and steps that seem to overpower it to the point of mockery. There is a moment in this short piece when the dancers leave the stage for Sibelius to regain his composure, but when they return with shaking heads and hands and Akrill’s drunken, swaggering gait, the dancing once again puts an arm around Sibelius and leads him to the bar. Akrill’s extraordinary jeté with his supporting foot suspended in Broom’s hands is a climax of Ek’s daring and outrageously imaginative choreography.
Introductions finally over, this was the keynote moment, like Turner’s daub of red lead, that illuminates everything that has gone before, as if we have been watching the slow growth of a pale stem that suddenly opens in a glorious, pleated apricot and turquoise bloom and the vein of humour coursing through the evening finally bursts out in Ek’s broad, uplifting, joyous laugh. It is brilliant programming, and if the triumph of the evening’s dancing belongs to the company’s founders, Akrill and Broom, it could not have happened without the supporting role of Sveaas. All three (finally) take a (proper) bow and receive a well-deserved ovation.