2011–2012 will be Monica Mason’s final season as director of The Royal Ballet. This is, she explains, “a case of ‘Director’s Choice’ – I’ve included a lot of things that have been particularly special to me, and also one or two that might not appear again for a while.”
Sense of Self
At the opening of Sense of Self, the new duet from Mélanie Demers and Laïla Diallo, one of the performers, dressed in a red velvet evening frock, her face obscured by a guerrilla mask, smashes a pile of plates into a large cardboard box. Such frustration at having to do the dishes is something to which I can well relate, but its presence as the first of a series of tableaux, investigating (so the programme informs us) “delicate questions linked to identity”, is harder to fathom. That Diallo was, until her departure in 2005, a dancer with Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance might offer a certain clue. Those ultra-intellectual musings that so befuddle much of McGregor’s oeuvre have sneaked into this show: “as skin is always renewing itself, is identity not also in a constant state of becoming?” asks the hand-out, but as with McGregor, beneath Sense of Self’s perplexingly tough exterior (even unto plate smashing) lies an intriguing work that fascinates long after the lights have gone out.