It’s taken me three weeks at least to get this post out. A few years ago, I wrote an occasional blog on dance (if you are interested, check out Dancing Around). I love dance, but writing about it is hard. I can talk about it, but when the words go down on paper, it doesn’t always look right. These days, I always put off writing about dance performances I have seen, so with effort, this post is about different dance experiences I have had recently.
When we were in Vancouver in March, we went to see Ballet BC at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, doing a mixed bill of pieces all by Canadian choreographers in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The first piece, Anthem, was choreographed for the event by Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin (Company 605). It was slightly over-long, but an interesting piece nevertheless. After the intermission came Swan, choreographed by Wen Wei Wang, a really awful piece in my opinion, that combined bits of music from Swan Lake, Saint-Sans’ The Swan (as used for The Dying Swan) and some electronic stuff on top. The piece was a mess from start to finish, with too many distractions and things going on, but I seemed to be in the minority in the audience, some of whom even gave the piece a standing ovation. I also have to say I disagreed with the review that said that the ‘symbolism of the original Swan Lake, referenced beautifully, knowingly, and touchingly throughout’ (see this review), finding quite the opposite – a mocking of classical dance. Oh well, each to their own!
Things looked up with the third piece, If I were 2, a piece by Lesley Telford for two dancers, performed to the spoken word. It was also a little long, but an interesting piece to watch. The best piece of the night was undoubtedly Solo Echo, a piece originally choreographed for my favourite dance company, Nederlands Dans Theatre, buy Crystal Pite. With a back drop of snowflakes, the dancers moved and intertwined, forming different patterns and shapes. The dancing throughout was excellent, and it was a great evening on the whole. It was interesting to note that the programmes were free – something new for me when going to professional performances like this.
Back in Wellington, the Royal New Zealand Ballet‘s first production of the season was a double bill of works by Roland Petit. The first piece L’Arlésienne (from 1974) was a curious mix of obvious references to Les Noces and an opportunity for the male lead to perform a mad scene. It was an odd piece, and in all honesty I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not (though the dancing was good). This was followed by Carmen (from 1949), a spirited , if slightly dated, piece. I enjoyed it, but felt that the costumes and sets, which are the same as the originals, also looked dated. While I understand that preserving the memory of the original is important, like Balanchine’s Jewels, it is probably time to update costumes and sets.
The New Zealand School of Dance celebrates its 50th birthday this year. A book has been produced about the history, with a choice of contemporary or classical students on the front cover. It’s a lovely book to browse through and a way of supporting the school too.
Well, there we go. I honestly wish I could find the words to really write about dance again. Maybe it will come back to me after the next thing I see.
Title: wonderful words from Martha Graham.
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