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Subject: "Frankfurt Ballet at Salder's Wells" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2251
Reading Topic #2251
Bruce Madmin

09-11-01, 08:00 AM (GMT)
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"Frankfurt Ballet at Salder's Wells"
 
  
Busy week but shame on us for not having a thread on Frankfurt at Sadler's
You can see many reviews of the opener - Artifact - in the latest Reviews link thread at:
http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2242.html

I'm doing a piece on Artifact but in a nutshell, having enjoyed Frankfurt very much last time (http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_98/dec98/bm_rev_ballett_frankfurt_1198.htm ) I thought this not such a good start with too little dance and too much German avante garde. More later, but what do others think of Artifact and the second Eidos:Telos piece that opened last night. I'm seeing that too but not until Saturday.

btw here is a link to bring up Frankfurt reviews from our database:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/cgi/reviews_database_search/db_search.cgi?company_names=Frankfurt

oh... and don't forget Valerie Lawson's piece on Forsythe in the October magazine:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_01/oct01/interview_william_forsythe.htm


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Frankfurt Ballet at Salder's Wells Viviane 09-11-01 1
     Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th Novem... Brendan McCarthymoderator 10-11-01 2
         RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th N... Ann Williams 10-11-01 3
         RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th N... alison 10-11-01 4
         RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th N... Bruce Madmin 11-11-01 5
             RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th N... Brendan 11-11-01 6
                 RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th N... Ann Williams 11-11-01 7

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Viviane

09-11-01, 08:47 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Frankfurt Ballet at Salder's Wells"
In response to message #0
 
   Well, I'm dying to hear from it !
Can't imagine that 'Frankfurt Ballet' is 'in town' without any review !
Although I knew Ballet.co-readers have seen them already
Please let us know your thoughts, especially now that the critic's didn't liked it very much.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

10-11-01, 08:14 AM (GMT)
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2. "Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 10-11-01 AT 11:24 AM (GMT)

On William Forsythe's own account, he is “missing a narrative gene”. This does not mean that he is incoherent and unable to articulate big ideas. On the contrary. Eidos:Telos is a stunning representation of the subconscious on stage. I went home afterwards and found it impossible to sleep. It isn’t often that an evening of theatre has that effect.

In classical theology, Plato’s idea of the “telos of man” held sway for many centuries. By this he meant, “becoming similar to God as much as possible”. Not becoming God, but Godlike. Forsythe’s piece, as I understood it, was an essay about humankind’s voyage from the gravity field of the limitations of time, personality and failure towards a more transpersonal and achieved existence. “Fail again”, in Samuel Beckett’s words, “fail better”.

E: T has three acts. The first, ostensibly one of pure dance, foreshadows the later acts. To get an idea of how it works, picture a map of the world based on the Mercator projection. The lines of longitude do not narrow towards the poles. Greenland and Antarctica look huge. But then change the map, perhaps in the way beloved of developing world agencies. Instead of a flat earth, the world is represented in an ovoid way with continents like Africa and South America assuming their rightful proportions and Europe shrinking away to a corner of the map. Forsythe does something like this to classical ballet. The landmarks are still there – the tendus, piqués, glissades, attitudes, and the rest, but they are scaled differently and their symmetries to each other are completely altered. A text from the final act eventually makes some sense of this early landscape: “If the earth is a sphere, the abyss below the earth is also the heavens”.

The setting for the first act was reminiscent of an athletics track, the floor divided by white strips running across the stage. A series of clocks are scattered around, each one possibly representing the different inner times of the dancers. At the back a digital clock shows elapsed time in seconds. An acoustic string is slung across the stage, making the area beneath it an enormous sounding board. The plucking of this string disrupts the unfolding action. Near the footlights a solo violinist plays. A male dancer stands at his shoulder using it as a barre. A metronome is set. The count changes, speeds up. The dancers now try to navigate a sonic world determined by the violinist, the metronome and the acoustic string. But the centre cannot hold. Trombonists at stage right sound menacing dischords. The digital clock starts rapidly losing time, right back to zero. The unfolding action has been pulled back to its beginnings. Start again.

When the curtain comes up on Act Two, the landscape is dark and sepulchral, criss-crossed by cables and wires - a spider’s web. Dana Caspersen, bare-breasted and wearing a long orange skirt, walks on stage speaking a despairing monologue: “I am woven through dark and return to it. I come up with a weaving heart and I return to the dark…. She’s going down down spinning salt and dirt. All there is is the spinning. Frozen lives collapse”. Violin cadenzas punctuate her flaying and manic anger. Occasionally there is a moment of calm as Caspersen, her persona shifting now (she assumes three characters throughout, Persephone, Kore and Demeter, girl, wife and mother), sounds the hope for a creation that may escape the dark. An exquisitely woven dance of death begins. This is Forsythe in “classic classic” mode. It is in waltz time, and is subverted by shouted obscenities from the cast. One dancer occasionally breaks off from such sentiments as “You are f***ing dead man”, to count time 1-2-3, 4-5-6. The curtain falls.

In Act 3 we are back in the light. The movement is heavily abstract and the trombonists’ discords build to a barrage on the senses. The stage is a web of a different kind. The acoustic strings shimmer – rather like old-fashioned telephone wires ahead of an approaching gale. As in Act 1, the centre cannot hold. But there is no spider-like return to the dark. Life struggles to be born and as Caspersen's dress falls away, she unshackles her chains and walks naked towards the footlights as the curtain falls.

I came to Sadler’s Wells as a sceptic and left as a partisan. See it.


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Ann Williams

10-11-01, 11:19 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #2
 
   I wish I could share your enthusiasm, Brendan. I found it a pretentious bore from start to finish, alleviated only by flashes of humour, which may or may not have been intentional.

Which is not to say I didn't enjoy some of the show - because that's exactly what it was, a show. Forsyth is a man of the theatre to his fingertips, so there were a few theatrical
surprises here, like when a dancers manipulated a huge sheet of cellophane in front of an orange coloured light to produce a stunningly life-like flame effect - I could almost feel the warmth in the stalls. But such such thrills were too brief to make up for the acres of psycho-babble and, above all, the lack of any real, sustained dance movement.

I'm not clear whether Eidos Telos is a new piece, signalling a new direction for Forsyth - if so, the sooner he gets back into In the Middle mode the better, at least for the ticket-paying public.


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alison

10-11-01, 04:12 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #2
 
   Call me a Philistine if you like, but I'm afraid that the words that kept popping into my mind during part 2 were "echt Scheisse" (look it up). Brendan obviously saw rather more into it than I could - was any of that in the programme? I got the impression it was the usual non-explanatory stuff, so didn't bother.


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Bruce Madmin

11-11-01, 10:44 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #2
 
  
I liked it - yes I know this is seriously worrying!

Might get something more coherent down on screen later.


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Brendan

11-11-01, 11:09 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #5
 
   When I wrote my own piece, I realised that I was laying myself open to a spell in Pseud's Corner. I went to Sadler's on Friday out of a sense of "duty", and fully expected an endurance test. I thought I'd be writing something along the lines of "....his "lack of a narrative gene" is an excuse for lack of clarity. ET was obscurantist and empty. While Forsythe may have a fine instinct for grammar, he has nothing to say"

I didn't write that. What changed my mind? I've said most of it in the review. But two things got to me in the first 30 seconds; the quality of the stage lighting and of the movement itself. I decided there and then that I liked it and that I was going to "go with it".

The other thing was that E:T really got to the Catholic side of me. I read it as a religious meditation on death, resurrection and transformation. I thought it was "good theology". Perhaps I should have said so even more explicitly in the review. Ann Williams told me this morning that Forsythe had written E:T after the death of his first wife. I hadn't known that. But it casts the piece in an even clearer light.

To answer a point Alison made: the programme notes were non-existent. I did read one interview with Forsythe, from which I quoted, and which was not very enlightening.


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Ann Williams

11-11-01, 11:57 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Eidos:Telos, Ballett Frankfurt, Sadler's Wells, 9th November"
In response to message #6
 
   Let me put the case for the Defence and the Prosecution (of Eidos:Telos) here.

For the Prosecution:
"Casperson then proceeded to run about the stage topless, screeching her (self-penned) fridge- magnet poetry ("I breathe, they dream, I want") which was frequently drowned out by long fruity raspberries from the on-stage trombonists...she crouched on all fours on top of a giant light-box like a drunken typist about to perform an unnatural act with a photocopier. If she would only shut up and dance"
(Louise Levene, Sunday Telegraph).

For the Defence:
"...when (Forsyth) began threading through his themes of the death of a loved one and the classical opposition of Apollonian order and Dionysian disorder, it almost impossible to believe that he would end up with a work so brilliantly achieved.....this is a pulverising, magnificent, thrilling evening"
(Ismene Brown, Daily Telegraph)

I believe the jury is still out.


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