HomeMagazineListingsUpdateLinksContexts

 


 Ballet.co Postings Pages

 Some Special Threads:
  GPDTalk about George Piper Dances ! NEW !
  NBTTalk about Northern Ballet Theatre
  SBTalk about Scottish Ballet
  ENBTalk about English National Ballet
  BRBTalk about Birmingham Royal Ballet
  TodaysLinks - worldwide daily dance links
  Ballet.co GetTogethers - meetings and drinks...

  Help on New Postings


Subject: "'13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 15th July" Archived thread - Read only
 
  Previous Topic | Next Topic
Printer-friendly copy     Email this topic to a friend    
Conferences What's Happening Topic #156
Reading Topic #156
Stuart Sweeney

16-07-99, 01:55 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Stuart%20Sweeney Click to send private message to Stuart%20Sweeney Click to add this user to your buddy list  
"'13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 15th July"
 
   This is an imaginative and daring project, which brings together dancers from different disciplines in a warehouse with no seats. I enjoyed it and the collaborators who brought the work to life should be congratulated for having the confidence to take the risks involved. Sadly, the worlds of ballet and contemporary dance in the UK sometimes seem to occupy parallel universes, with devotees of each style often having little or no link with the other. Exceptions being Rambert and AMP, perhaps. Even before the start, there was a sense of something special, with Anthony Dowell and a number of other Royal Ballet luminaries rubbing shoulders with half the London contemporary dance world.

Siobhan Davies has a formidable reputation as a choreographer and has created a large body of successful work over the past two decades, firstly for London Contemporary Dance and more recently for her own company. This is one of two collaborations with the ROH this year, as another work by her will be featured in the re-opening events in December. '13 Different Keys', however, is a more complete intermixing of the two dance worlds, as it brings together Deborah Bull, Jenny Tattersall and Peter Abegglen of the Royal Ballet with Gill Clarke and Matthew Morris of The Siobhan Davies Company. The 55-minute work is danced to a live performance of music by Couperin and Marais.

This is a site-specific work in The Atlantis, a converted loft in an East London warehouse. It is a large, airy space and for this performance an X-shaped stage, raised about 2 feet, has been installed, together with beautiful, slowly shifting lighting designed by Peter Mumford. The five dancers shift between the 4 arms of the stage and the standing audience are meant to move around as the work unfolds. On the first night, however, the audience was a lot more static than the dancers. The venue has advantages and disadvantages. The close proximity to some of the best dancers in the country is often fascinating and the perspectives down the long diagonals produce some stunning vistas in the imaginative lighting. On the other hand, pillars and other audience members sometimes obscure the sight lines.

For the choreography, Davies has not tried for some sort of compromise and presents a work in her own style of cool, abstract dance. Davies never wears her heart on her sleeve, but the work does seem rather more lyrical these days and features an under-stated, elegant character. She matches the exquisite baroque music with demanding balances and subtle interactions between the dancers. Jenny Tattersall is given quick, impish steps matching her own character and in a 10 minute section where the focus switched to the musicians, it was fascinating to watch her relax on the stage and then stretch and wiggle her toes to keep stiffness at bay.

It was noteworthy that some people were asking which were the ballet dancers as the homogeneity of the performers made a separation difficult. All the dancers performed admirably, but it was fascinating afterwards, to hear the RB dancers and their friends express their great admiration for Gill Clarke who performed superbly throughout including a short, fast solo section more in the style of Forsythe. Overall an exciting meeting of different strands of the excellent dance resources that we enjoy in this country, from which, I'm sure, greater knowledge and respect has flowed. The elegant, fluid style could provide a good introduction to one strand of contemporary choreography for those who normally prefer ballet.

Tickets are 14.50 from 0171 387 0031 and there is availability for each of the remaining nights from Friday to Monday. Performances start at 9pm and as the Atlantis is in Brick Lane, near Aldgate East tube, there is a wide choice of Indian food on offer nearby.


  Printer-friendly page | Top

  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July Bruce Madmin 17-07-99 1
     RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July Stuart Sweeney 19-07-99 2
         RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July Bruce Madmin 19-07-99 3
             RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July cf 19-07-99 4
             RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July Stuart Sweeney 19-07-99 5
         RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July eugene merrett 19-07-99 6
             RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July Bruce Madmin 20-07-99 7

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic
Bruce Madmin

17-07-99, 11:06 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Bruce%20M Click to send private message to Bruce%20M Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 18-Jul-99 AT 04:37 PM (GMT)

I'm just back from seeing this and unfortunately was not really so impressed. It's a shame because I very much enjoyed Siobhan Davies' last piece for her company (Wild Air) and I like the ballet dancers involved.

The good bits are that it is always amazing to see dancers doing their stuff close to and you certainly get that here. To see the control and dexterity is truly amazing. Personally I'm always amazed by dancers' bare feet as well! The music and costumes are also nice and none of the choreography is particularly horrible or incredibly odd. Unfortunately it's not really so good either. For me it perhaps 'caught fire' for 30 seconds at one point.

But as a night it remained perplexingly inaccessible. The programme does not say much about what the 13 different keys might be and in general there are no clues as to structure/content. It would have been nice to know it lasts just under 50 minutes and that about 15 minutes in the dancers take a rest - on stage - for 15 minutes or so. Armed with the latter you might actually walk around or find a wall and have a sit down for a while. But no, the audience all stand for the thick end of 15 minutes in semi-darkness wondering when a dancer, or dancers even, might respond to the ongoing music. Bloody stupid really!

Much is made about the possibility of wandering around during the performance. Few in reality do - mainly because there is not room for everybody to flock to see where the latest flare-up of dancing is and so it's best to stay where you are rather than risk loosing what view you have... bird in the hand versus two in the bush etc. So if nobody moves why then are we all standing and would it not be best to seat folks?

Overall all the ingredients were there but what has come out is a bit slight. It's also not good value. 14.50 for 50 minutes equates to over 50 for a more normal night's 3 hours of dance. That's about the average price of seeing the Bolshoi and much more expensive than seeing the Royal at Sadler's. And both those come with a seat and a place you can get a drink (admittedly an expensive drink). Come the end everybody dutifully clapped but I didn't detect much of a hum as people left.

Many people do want to see new things, but modern ballet and dance have to make things easier for folks if they want to broaden their appeal - just staying perplexingly oddball won't really change much.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Stuart Sweeney

19-07-99, 00:54 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Stuart%20Sweeney Click to send private message to Stuart%20Sweeney Click to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #1
 
  
Clearly you are perfectly at liberty to like or dislike a dance presentation and the night that I went there were people who really liked it and others who did not. Incidentally, some of the cutting edge contemporary crowd found it too straight forward. However, some of your remarks are worthy of comment.

>But as a night it remained perplexingly
>inaccessible. The programme does not say
>much about what the 13 different
>keys might be and in general
>there are no clues as to
>structure/content.

Bit surprised at this, as my programme mentions that the the title relates to the music, which is written in 13 different keys.

> It would have been nice
>to know it lasts just under
>50 minutes and that about 15
>minutes in the dancers take a
>rest - on stage - for
>15 minutes or so. Armed with
>the latter you might actually walk
>around or find a wall and
>have a sit down for a
>while. But no, the audience all
>stand for the thick end of
>15 minutes in semi-darkness wondering when
>a dancer, or dancers even, might
>respond to the ongoing music. Bloody
>stupid really!

Well, some folk might have thought that the lights dimming over the dance area, the dancers sitting or lying down on the stage and the spotlights falling on the musicians, might have constituted some sort of clue.

>14.50 for 50 minutes equates
>to over 50 for a more
>normal night's 3 hours of dance.

Some of the best dance pieces I have ever seen have been about 1 hr and would have been diminished rather than enhanced if they had been coupled with anything else. I am not a subscriber to the philosophy of the old TV tailoring sitcom, 'Never mind the quality, feel the width.'

>Many people do want to see new
>things, but modern ballet and dance
>have to make things easier for
>folks if they want to broaden
>their appeal - just staying perplexingly
>oddball won't really change much.

This is an abstract work, like Macmillan's 'Concerto' or Twyla Tharp's 'Golden Section'. The venue is innovative and not without some problems, but to describe a lyrical piece of dance, fairly typical of Davies, performed by very good dancers as 'oddball', seems bizarre.

I'm keen that contemporary dance builds a bigger audience so that our leading artists don't have to spend so much time overseas, where their true worth is respected and there is certainly a place for a very accessible, high quality work like Decoufle's 'Shazam'. However, if you are saying that our leading contemporary choreographers should carry out some sort of dumbing down process, I can only say, 'Leave it out, Bruce!'



  Printer-friendly page | Top
Bruce Madmin

19-07-99, 10:03 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Bruce%20M Click to send private message to Bruce%20M Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #2
 
   Believe me I would love to have come back with a glowing view and what better lead-in to Davies piece for the RB in the new season and Bull's programming of the Studio Upstairs. Alas not all risks that are taken are rewarded by success -in some eyes anyway.

Like you I feel it appropriate to respond and perhaps justify my thoughts a little further...

>>But as a night it remained perplexingly
>>inaccessible. The programme does not say
>>much about what the 13 different
>>keys might be and in general
>>there are no clues as to
>>structure/content.

>Bit surprised at this, as my programme
>mentions that the the title relates
>to the music, which is written
>in 13 different keys.

But that's about all the programme says about the music. Nothing about why it was chosen, why it fits the space (its a site specific work remember), or how the music related to the dance for instance.


>> It would have been nice
>>to know it lasts just under
>>50 minutes and that about 15
>>minutes in the dancers take a
>>rest - on stage - for
>>15 minutes or so. Armed with
>>the latter you might actually walk
>>around or find a wall and
>>have a sit down for a
>>while. But no, the audience all
>>stand for the thick end of
>>15 minutes in semi-darkness wondering when
>>a dancer, or dancers even, might
>>respond to the ongoing music. Bloody
>>stupid really!

>Well, some folk might have thought that
>the lights dimming over the dance
>area, the dancers sitting or lying
>down on the stage and the
>spotlights falling on the musicians, might
>have constituted some sort of clue.

I think that's a bit too cheap, though my comment probably did not help!

Re the lighting changing... perhaps the musicians were to be under the lights for 2 or 3 minutes - certainly that's what I thought. The dancers having been on stage for perhaps 15 minutes, and not having done anything incredibly strenuous (compared to other things they get up to), you would not normally expect a break of any length. I have no particular objection - just would have been nice to know up front. Again its part of the arrogance of contemporary dance that it regards the imparting of any meaningful information as something for sissies and whimps (apologies for non-pc english!).

I didn't think I was alone in having probs with the evening and the break in particular. Here is a bit from Debra Craines review in todays Times:

"The overall effect is fussy and unfocused, some ideas never quite taking flight and others flitting about like errant threads. It neither starts nor ends with a strong logic and what interest it holds is dissipated by an ill-judged interval."


>>14.50 for 50 minutes equates
>>to over 50 for a more
>>normal night's 3 hours of dance.

>Some of the best dance pieces I have
>ever seen have been about 1 hr and
>would have been diminished rather than
>enhanced if they had been coupled
>with anything else. I am not a
>subscriber to the philosophy of the
>old TV tailoring sitcom, 'Never mind
>the quality, feel the width.'

There seems to be a misunderstanding. I was not complaining about the length, just doing some value for money sums about the evening. It seemed reasonable because there has been much talk about the cost of seats recently. And of course one would never wish to see a piece artificially extended beyond its natural length. But that's why we have double and triple bills of course... and I don't think I've ever seen a work of less then 1 hour that just had to be given on its own. (but perhaps thats just the ballet tradition I come from!)



>>Many people do want to see new
>>things, but modern ballet and dance
>>have to make things easier for
>>folks if they want to broaden
>>their appeal - just staying perplexingly
>>oddball won't really change much.

>This is an abstract work, like Macmillan's
>'Concerto' or Twyla Tharp's 'Golden Section'.
> The venue is innovative and
>not without some problems, but to
>describe a lyrical piece of dance,
>fairly typical of Davies, performed by
>very good dancers as 'oddball', seems
>bizarre.

I was describing the night as oddball in the sense that much contemporary dance in not accessible and indeed seems to go out of its way to remain illusive (if perhaps true to itself and those that like it at the moment).

Jann Parry expressed it rather better:

"Since this is not an event intended solely for dance insiders ... the result reinforces the impression that modern dance must be impenetrable."

And I would stress that I like Davies last work - indeed it was lyrical too. So I'm not coming at this as somebody who has a particular problem with Davies.. or Bull or any of the others.


>I'm keen that contemporary dance builds a
>bigger audience so that our leading
>artists don't have to spend so
>much time overseas, where their true
>worth is respected and there is
>certainly a place for a very
>accessible, high quality work like Decoufle's
>'Shazam'. However, if you are saying
>that our leading contemporary choreographers should
>carry out some sort of dumbing
>down process, I can only say,
>'Leave it out, Bruce!'


Diaghilev didn't dumb down a thing, but none the less he appreciated you needed to do things differently to take the art forward and attract a wider audience. Unfortunately much contemporary dance carries on in the same way and because of that will probably fail to gain a wider respect and influence. Hoping that veils will suddenly drop from peoples eyes and the magnificence of the contemporary scene will suddenly become apparent to all is just not going to happen. You have to help and guide people.

In actual fact it would be really good for somebody in contemporary dance to try and dumb it down in some way - what a refreshing change that would be! Looked at from outside it is desperately rarefied at times. For something that is so into the new and trying different things, it strikes me as odd that it is reluctant to try and get it's message over to the wider dance and ballet community in new ways that they/we are likely to understand.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
cf

19-07-99, 10:31 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail cf Click to send private message to cf Click to add this user to your buddy list  
4. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #3
 
   I have enjoyed reading both very diverse views on 13 Different Keys and found both refreshingly honest and 'non-confrontational' - in the main. I think it is vital that opposing views are aired whilst personal opinions are respected.

I must admit I did hold my breath waiting for Bruce's response this morning. You did not disappoint!


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Stuart Sweeney

19-07-99, 01:27 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Stuart%20Sweeney Click to send private message to Stuart%20Sweeney Click to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #3
 
   Propositions and rights of reply being equally balanced, I am happy to avoid 'lastworditis' and move on to other things. Just to say that I am pleased to note that Bruce and I agree so completely over the RB 'Giselle', elsewhere in 'Whats Happening'.


  Printer-friendly page | Top
eugene merrett

19-07-99, 02:54 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail eugene%20merrett Click to send private message to eugene%20merrett Click to add this user to your buddy list  
6. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #2
 
   Face it Bruce - you do not like modern dance! I find it completely inaccessable.

I wonder if there will be a backlash against modern dance just like there has been a backlash against atonal music?


  Printer-friendly page | Top
Bruce Madmin

20-07-99, 09:37 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Bruce%20M Click to send private message to Bruce%20M Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
7. "RE: '13 Different Keys' by Siobhan Davies, 17th July"
In response to message #6
 
   Not true - but I'm quite selective and want to understand more. There *is* good stuff here and it needs to be drawn out and made more of. I want a future that has significant new work at its centre. The thought of endlessly comparing the classics, washed down by a few heritage works (welcome though they be) is not good enough and symptomatic of an art form that is moribund and dyeing. We can't live off the past forever and if I get exasperated its because many of those embarked on new work don't really think of the audience. If the audience like it that's great and if they don't that's not the producer, choreographer or performers problem. Well it kind of is! Every time I see a provinces theatre a third full being danced at by the self indulgent, with programme notes that obstruct rather then enhance I think of the wasted opportunity.

Final thing - I would strongly recommend that anybody and everybody goes to see Siobhan Davies company doing "Wild Air". It's at Sadler's at the end of September and beginning of October (details in Listings). It is perplexing and the programme, I think I'm right in recalling, features words which would feed Pseuds Corner for several months(!), but the dance itself rises above all that and thrills with its invention and fluidity. And she has the most marvelous dancers too, with technical skills every bit as good as that seen in the best ballet companies...


  Printer-friendly page | Top

Conferences | Topics | Previous Topic | Next Topic

 
Questions or problems regarding this bulletin board should be directed to Bruce Marriott