Friday, November 4, 2011

Scottish Ballet in London

I missed ballet so badly. 

 I haven't been able to go to see any theater/ballet production recently.  I can't even remember what and when was my last production that I saw.  I'm so pleased to return to Sadler's Well for this amazing ballet company that I missed last year when they toured in London.

This time they toured with 2 totally different ballet: one is from Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo's Kings 2 Ends and Sir Kenneth MacMillian's Song of the Earth.  Two complete productions from two different choreographers. For me, tonight is much more than just ballet but also about the music. 

I haven't heard of Jorma Elo until tonight. If I got to use 3 words to describe what I think about his work, they are witty, playful and happy. Truly, it was my impression about this work.  The ballet divided into 2 parts: the first half was the technical bit with strong contemporary and physical demanding pace and movement. The first half of the music was composed by Steve Reich, a very contemporary piece of music with strong rhythm, but difficult to count for ballet.  Dancers attacked the notes well (you can see how much they practised in order to hit the note clearly and sharply) and it was full of energy. With those contemporary notes, the dance was indeed slight 'cold' and impersonal. The second half music was composed by the great Mozart, Violin Concerto No 1.  A delightful music, and hence the atmosphere was totally different.  The choreographer didn't stick with classical ballet movement with classical music.  There are some unusual steps and isolation movement danced with isolated instruments in the music; which added different dimension, layers and humors in the ballet.  I did hear some laughs in those 'funny' steps danced in the ballet.  However, despite those interesting details, I do find that there is no 'big' WOW for me in this ballet.  It was a good piece of ballet; but for me, it is lack of surprising elements and impressive signature in it, like Christopher Wheeldon's work, which is a small disappointment for me.

One of the main reasons for me to watch this production is Sir Kenneth MacMillian's Song of the Earth.  Simply put, this ballet was about a journey of a young man and woman encountering different fear in their lives.  At the end, the fear of death seemed powerful and overwhelming and yet, death itself isn't necessary threatening but it can be also revolutionary.  I first watched it when the British prima ballerina Darcey Bussell danced in her farewell performance in 2007.  I still remembered the power of this ballet when I first watch it.  It brought me in tears! I found that the ballet reached me to a very deep level regarding to the fear that the leading female dancer was facing in the ballet; the fear of loneliness, death and loss.  For me, it was powerful, that's why I want to watch this again on stage.  I applauded the strong ability demonstrated by the dancers.  The messenger of death was danced by soloist Christopher Harrison, which is the most impressive dancer for me in this ballet.  Very clean and crisp movement is a delight to watch. As a messenger of death, you won't feel that he was threatening; he gave you room to imagine his role in the ballet.  Was he an evil taking the leading man's life? or was he just a shadow following every single person (as he didn't dance in all 6 parts of the ballet, but just reappeared in towards the end of some parts of it)? Or was he just one of us? Credit to Harrison's strong ability but also applauded to MacMillian's choreography.

With all these praises in my heart, I actually didn't find the impact that I was hoping in this production.  It may not be fair.  But this piece of ballet was done in 1965, a great piece has been danced by different great dancers in the past.  I think it's not only me, but everyone comes to see this production with their own perceptions of the ballet.  I'm pleased to see how the dancers was being on their own, who they are on the stage; dancing with their very own interpretations.  However, I do find that it's not as impact as the last one I watched.  Would that to do with the maturity of the dancers and even the company as a whole? Royal ballet will redo this masterpiece in 2012, I will definitely book a place for myself to watch this again to answer my own questions.

It is a good production overall.  I do see the potential in this company. With a new artistic director is coming to the post, I do believe that there will be changes and challenges in this company.  I enjoyed the production tonight but I just hoped for a small wow factor....Here is the clip from Scottish ballet on their rehearsal of this production. 

My next production to watch will be Cloud gate dance company from Taiwan.  I have heard so much about them already... now, I can finally experience their beauty.... can't wait!

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