The Blank Album
With The Blank Album, Glasgow-based choreographer Natasha Gilmore presents her dancers as a pop band, as comedians, as attention-seekers. It’s set up as a series of songs, with quarrels or bursts of affection between the band members. Performances are lively, but The Blank Album strains too hard for versatility.
Ballet Week 2009
The Bavarian State Ballet celebrated two anniversaries during its annual Ballet Week, held this year from May 3-10: the company’s 20th birthday as an independent institution and the centenary of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
In the German Democratic Republic-inspired police state of monitored conversations and constant surveillance in Tilted Productions’ TrAPPED, a banana is not just a banana. Bitten into a phallic shape by a guard, it is then hypnotically wound round a woman’s neck and shoulders or used as a telephone and recording device before being finally unpeeled and force-fed to the victim, not as nourishment, but as slow, silencing poison.
Ballet Boyz II: The Next Generation in Laws of Motion
Gene Kelly danced in the rain, and anyone proposing to dance in the open air in the UK should be prepared to do the same. However, a gentle downpour and a wet concrete surface following some hours of rain, prevented Ballet Boyz II from giving the early afternoon world premiere performance of their 15-minute piece Laws of Motion in Platt Fields Park, Manchester, as part of the “Feast – Picnic By The Lake” programme. The quartet of dancers also failed to appear in person to meet and greet the quintet of an audience waiting good-humouredly in the drizzle for something to happen.
On June 6 and 7 The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora presented Bloom (ADAD), a festival held at various locations across the Southbank Centre which offered free workshops, films and talks, and two performances of a mixed bill in the Purcell Room.
Marilyn, The Story of the Silver Screen Goddess
Marilyn, the latest “dancical” presented for a limited run by Peter Schaufuss at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End, is based on the life of screen legend Marilyn Monroe. This is the most recent in a series of celebrity-based full-length works that the company has been presenting in London for the last couple of summers, the previous pieces being Satisfaction (based on The Rolling Stones) and Divas (based on the lives of Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland). Marilyn, then, follows a formula that has proved popular in Schaufuss’ native Denmark, but has been less successful in London (at least amongst the UK’s fraternity of dance critics).
What better place to see the most romantic scene from Swan Lake, than on the Waterfront Stage at Latitude which floated on a beautiful lake with the audience able to view not only from amidst the seated throng on the grassy verge, but also from the comfort of reclining deckchairs on the other side of the water. Some bustling festival-goers even stopped in their tracks on their way across the bridge, lingering just long enough to take in the picturesque setting.
Shakespeare’s words are a wonder of the world, but his dramatic world was also a world of physical theatre, and closer to song and dance than we sometimes remember today. We should remind ourselves that his most famous clown, William Kempe, who was surely a great mover on stage for the Bard, was as well known for his dancing as for his clowning. Indeed, he became known as “the nine days’ wonder” when he danced his marathon jig from London to Norwich.