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Subject: "Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2682
Reading Topic #2682
Bruce Madmin

01-05-02, 10:33 AM (GMT)
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"Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's"
 
   Forgot to post this earlier - Sadler's was heaving last night at the opening of one of Europe's most influential companies.. so what did people think of the double bill....


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's alison 01-05-02 1
     RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Lynette H 01-05-02 2
         RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's sylvia 01-05-02 3
             RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's James W 01-05-02 4
  Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells Bruceadmin 02-05-02 5
     RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells Lynette H 02-05-02 6
         RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells Jane S 02-05-02 7
         RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells Bruceadmin 02-05-02 8
         RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells alison 02-05-02 9
         RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells alison 02-05-02 10
             RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells Robert 05-05-02 11

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alison

01-05-02, 01:33 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's"
In response to message #0
 
   I think a lot of the rest of us were watching Johan and Alina


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Lynette H

01-05-02, 02:08 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's"
In response to message #1
 
   Dancing with Light

Lighting design is very much the poor relation when it comes to reviews of dance and ballet. Choreography, characterisation, sets, costumes may all get a mention. Lighting, when it’s mentioned, is often only in a negative sense – for instance the gloom preferred by Forsythe means that its very difficult to identify individual dancers on stage even if you know who they are. Recent performances both by Russell Maliphant / George Piper Dances and by Ballet Preljocaj demand a rather different approach though: in both cases the lighting design and effects are a part of the work, though in rather different ways.

Russell Maliphant was at the Place last week in a program which included two of his earlier duets and a new piece, Torsion, made for Nunn and Trevitt of George Piper Dances. Maliphant's work is very intense, compressed, intimate, tightly worked. In Knot Maliphant dances with Yuval Pick: it had a formal, ritual affair as if a preparation for combat. His work has acquired greater currency by featuring in the George Piper repertoire; the language has become familiar from their Critical Mass – the transfer of weight between individuals, leaning, twisting, balancing against one another, testing out the possibilities of how two bodies interact. It is very pared down, tightly focussed approach. Lighting is used very specifically to box the dancers in, to define where they move, and lead them around the performance area.

In Sheer, a duet with Dana Fouras, the lighting is even more the driver of the work: it begins very slowly, the dancers illuminated from behind. The silhouettes are used to very deliberately examine the shape of an arm, the extension of a leg. Light again moves the dances around the stage. Sheer was a remarkably tender piece. How does he achieve this ? There is nothing overtly romantic or even affectionate about it, but the calm interaction of the two of them – falling backwards towards each other, bracing themselves against each other – seemed to speak volumes about quiet trust and confidence.

Torsion begins with Nunn and Trevitt imprisoned it seems in separate squares of light while their arms zoom around at frantic pace, before being released into increasingly demanding interplay with one another, with some very ambitious lifts. At first sight this didn’t seem as convincing a work as Critical Mass. However, Torsion may have suffered in coming as the third item on the bill: Maliphant’s work has such a very distinct and powerful flavour that it might be preferable to see this as part of a mixed bill, offset by some other styles.

In all these works, the light was a key element, a fully integrated part of the work as a whole, which just wouldn’t be the same or make sense (particularly Sheer) without it. There were some extraordinarily striking lighting effects on show at Ballet Preljocaj’s performance at Sadlers yesterday. But though these were spectacular, it seemed to me that these dominated the dance rather than served it.

The work was Helikopter, which Preljocaj made to a work by Stockhausen – a string quartet played in four separate helicopters, complete with engine noise etc…..if you like your dance musical this was not the work for you. The ‘Video scenic director’ for this was Holger Forterer. The effects were extremely clever: the floor under the dancers feet was transformed as if to a shallow pond in which their feet were splashing, or a like a kind of wind tunnel effect where movement caused lines of light behind them to ripple and distort: or the effect of rotating rotor blades. A huge mirror reflected the dancers (at least it did for the stalls – in the second circle it could barely be seen). In fact its much easier to remember the effects rather than the steps themselves. The dancers worked hard, but there was little sense of any personality being allowed to intrude, and much of the movement began to get very repetitive.

Here although the effects were fabulous, with the dancers seeming to call every effect into being by their movement, ultimately the union of dance and effects seemed unequal and unbalanced. Without the effects, the dance might look rather pedestrian and repetitive: under it, it was simply submerged.. The rather sparse but vocal audience (which nevertheless included many dancers and plenty of the dance establishment) nevertheless liked it a lot.

Also on the bill was Preljocaj’s Rite of Spring – more to follow on that separately.


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sylvia

01-05-02, 04:58 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's"
In response to message #2
 
   There are some photos on the Performing Arts Library website for those who are curious.

Go to http://www.performingartslibrary.co.uk/fwlogon.htm
Click 'log on as guest'

Very intriguing!


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James W

01-05-02, 10:41 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's"
In response to message #3
 
   The lighting effects for Helikopter were unlike anything I have ever seen on stage before - I adored it. The music was somewhat overpowering but the visuals were beyond anything I have ever seen live on stage before. I may have to go and see it for a second time before I may have to go and see it a second time before I could begin to comment on the coreography but it was a spectacle which moved the dance into another realm. It was truly groundbreaking and something I shall not forget in a hurry.


And then was 'Right of Spring' what can I say... One of the most incredible ensemble pieces I have ever witnessed. The only solo in the piece was by 'the chosen one' in th efinal few minutes and, newspaper hype about the nudity aside, I thought it was finally a reworking of a classic piece which actually made sense in a modern context.
I cannot wait to to see le parc by The Royal Ballet next season.


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Bruceadmin

02-05-02, 01:58 PM (GMT)
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5. "Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #0
 
  
Here is my 2p - looking forward to seeing what Lynette and the others reviewers thought!

I love the buzz when a crowd turns out for the first night of a 'new' company presenting its latest works. That was certainly the case for Ballet Preljocaj's opening at Sadler's Wells last Tuesday - Guillem was there, along with many of the critics and all our diarists(!) - come to see one of Europe's hottest choreographic names. Preljocaj's work is entering the Royal Ballet repertoire next year and of course his Romeo and Juliet at Sadler's last season impressed a fair few - if it terrified the Alsatian dog that was involved!

Although the company includes ballet in its title most people wouldn't really recognise it as such. The programme was entirely bare foot and the dancers (the girls then) have a far stronger and less fragile look about them.

The double bill opened with Helikopter to an eminently danceable score by Karlheinz Stockhausen - not! Do you really want to know the soundtrack was created on a string quartet where each member was playing in a separate helicopter? Three performances were given in 1995 it seems and to the fractured and tortured strings are added the whirl of the rotors and distorted voices on radios etc. Preljocaj at first thought the music impossible but obviously recanted.

The programme notes on Helikopter have a few paragraphs by Stockhausen and Preljocaj but nothing from Holger Forterer. This is a travesty because Forterer is named as the Video Scenic Director and it is the lighting and projection technology and design which makes this piece so utterly compelling despite the grotesque music and rather pedestrian choreography.

Forterer uses computers to control downward projections onto the dance floor of puddles, clouds, magnetic interference patterns, wind-tunnel air streams and helicopter rotors etc, but what makes it so fascinating is the set-up knows where the dancers are in real time and the projections track them. So as they walk across the stage powerful ripples might emanate from their every step. And like real ripples they meet ripples created by other dancers and reflect and refract. This sounds very pedestrian but it's just so powerful and stunning and I spent much of the 35 minutes being visually enthralled while my mind raced about figuring how it was being done. The dancers couldn't really compete with such dazzle - even if the music and choreography were better. My last note on this was "you only need fit bodies to power this". It's a considerable triumph for Forterer though I guess Preljocaj can claim much credit for hiring him and running with the technology.

The Rite of Spring score seemed as light as Four Seasons following the Stockhausen. And Preljocaj's Rite starts with laughs as the girls take their knickers down and get the boys going.. There are 6 'couples' and a grassy knoll that breaks down into 6 grassy beds for the girls to vamp the boys, be chased around, raped on and for the boys then to go to sleep on. It's a modern telling but there is a Chosen One who becomes fully stripped (a shock image used on posters) and there is much chasing and ravishing generally. The grassy knoll design worked well and the choreography in the slower and more sultry moments is seductive and naturalistic. But overall it wasn't a revelation for me - we see much movement like this. Macmillan's Rite is truly scary whereas this seemed like a teenagers' picnic that got a bit out of hand.

I'm glad I saw the company and anybody near London would be foolish not to get a glimpse of them but I don't think I saw major choreographic work here - more the hand of a producer of interesting things. But go for Helikopter and be truly stunned - by computers


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Lynette H

02-05-02, 02:35 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #5
 
   More on the Rite of Spring as promised...

The Rite of Spring is a considerable challenge to take on for any choreographer, all that raging power. Preljocaj’s take on this seems to be not the pagan fertility rite, but rather sex. The six couples writhe together, tear each others clothes off, run about in preening display and combat, until one woman finally gets to be stripped naked and thrash about inside a ring of dancers as if possessed, though she fails to finally die at the conclusion of the music.

I think we are supposed to find this rather shocking and ‘provocative’, that word so beloved of dance publicists. I didn’t find it shocking, but in many ways rather predictable after the first tem minutes or so, and in its way deeply conventional in its view of male and female sexuality. The women writhe and moan but would never of course make the first move, they have to be chased by their caveman partners, be pinned down and have their clothes ripped off and given a good seeing to. More enthusiastic coupling follows at intervals. It was somehow predictable that it would be a woman who would end up without her clothes – it wouldn’t be a man, would it ? .Ultimately, Preljocaj doesn’t have anything particularly original or interesting to say about carnal urges: he just illustrates them.

The dance was intermittently successful in matching the score, with some passages of real power at the darker moments, with some frenzied rolling and slapping of the floor. But the quieter moments in the score seemed to be less well handled, and by the end the degree of repetition in the moves was becoming irritating.

The dancers threw themselves into this with the required ferocity and commitment, and it’s a shame that the programme gives no details of them beyond the bare listing of their names. The programme notes I must say are some of the most pretentious I’ve ever read. Here’s a taster, describing the costume designer for Rite of Spring: ‘…he has lent his signature to a highly personal ready to wear collection. He has designed and guided it, instinctively open and generous, yet with a disciplined approach. He does not seek to stand out nor to fascinate. His collections are made to be shared, for pleasure and for communication. He has totally integrated his roots and with that – goes forward. He gives of himself, revealing part of his mystery yet never betraying his being , as if his soul had been screened by the textile itself’. It carries on for another few paragraphs, but you get the drift.

Sadlers was very full in the stalls on the opening night, but, oddly, the cheaper seats upstairs were the most empty I’ve ever seen there. Sadlers refused to open the bar on the second circle before the show as they didn’t think there were enough seats taken for it to be worthwhile. The audience was very appreciative though.


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Jane S

02-05-02, 04:47 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #6
 
   Lynette, from the rest of your review, maybe there's a reason for the bare listing of the dancers' names? (Sorry)


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Bruceadmin

02-05-02, 05:18 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #6
 
   >Ultimately, Preljocaj doesn’t have
>anything particularly original or interesting
>to say about carnal urges:
>he just illustrates them.

Lovely line! And its not at all erotic or scarry or shocking really


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alison

02-05-02, 05:45 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #6
 
  
> The programme notes I
>must say are some of
>the most pretentious I’ve ever
>read. Here’s a taster, describing
>the costume designer for Rite
>of Spring: ‘…he has lent
>his signature to a highly
>personal ready to wear collection.
>He has designed and guided
>it, instinctively open and generous,
>yet with a disciplined approach.
>He does not seek to
>stand out nor to fascinate.
>His collections are made to
>be shared, for pleasure and
>for communication. He has totally
>integrated his roots and with
>that – goes forward.
>He gives of himself, revealing
>part of his mystery
>yet never betraying his being
>, as if his soul
>had been screened by the
>textile itself’.

Sounds as though it was written by a French person to me


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alison

02-05-02, 09:47 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #6
 
   Well, my eardrums are still recovering from being assaulted by the Stockhausen ... I did find the imagery fascinating, but found myself virtually ignoring the dance itself, which I don't think was quite the point! (BTW, those helicopter rotor patterns had me wondering whether the theatre should put up warning notices as they do when strobe lighting is used - I wouldn't be surprised if their flickering was enough to trigger a fit in an epileptic). Trouble is, I think there's probably a bit of a "blind spot" in the centre stalls where you're not high enough to see the patterns actually being formed on the stage floor, but can't see all the dancers in the mirror either, and I certainly think this detracts from appreciating the dance.

>I think we are supposed to
>find this rather shocking and
>‘provocative’, that word so beloved
>of dance publicists.

Anybody who's been going to the Wells for years is hardly going to be shocked by a bit more nudity on stage, are they? Mind you, I'm sorry to report that I did hear some very heavy male breathing during the Rite, so unfortunately the publicity has obviously been having an effect.

>? .Ultimately, Preljocaj doesn’t have
>anything particularly original or interesting
>to say about carnal urges:
>he just illustrates them.

Yes, I agree with that, too.
>
>The dance was intermittently successful in
>matching the score, with some
>passages of real power at
>the darker moments, with some
>frenzied rolling and slapping of
>the floor.

I thought quite a lot of it worked well with the music. But yes, far prefer the MacMillan. Not one of the best evenings of Preljocaj I've ever seen.


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Robert

05-05-02, 09:30 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj at Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #10
 
   Most of us complain about the noise from low flying helicopters, it is amusing to think that some people pay to hear them. Presumably most people were there for the sex! It does not sound a show to take the grandchildren to.


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