Consider your sylph at home

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A light installation around the South Bank. These are Dan\'s feet. Nicely odd to see ENB at the Festival Hall for their ‘Festival Ballet’ programme, after all these years of not being at the Festival Hall, and not doing their warhorse, Harald Lander’s Etudes.

I liked David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to My Skin more this time round than the first time I saw it, and the dancers are so fast, stylish and articulate, you can like the dancing even if you don’t like the piece. It’s not the choreographer’s fault that I love this music so much, and the pianist Kevin Darvas played so wonderfully, that, like the first time I saw it, it was only about a minute and a half before I forgot to watch the stage and got wrapped up in the music.

I’m not sure anyone could convince me with ballet done to this piece – for me, it’s all about community, harmony and relationships that are worked out in music, and ballet is sometimes too much about superlatives rather than cohesion. The music and the musicians are already dancing, they don’t need any more dance thrust upon them. And to see solos or unisons in a piece where you can hear conviviality and empathy feels wrong to me. I surprised myself for thinking such fusty thoughts, but my head was also full of Joan Acocella’s comments on Balanchine, the abstract, and the female crotch (see last post). I couldn’t help thinking that Million Kisses is a very crotchy ballet, amongst other things.

I liked Wayne Eagling’s new piece to Mahler’s Rückert Lieder. I always forget that I like Mahler, and that he’s not all misery. Once again, it was difficult not to get drawn into the music (sung live), but I’m not complaining, and I don’t think it mattered.

And so to Etudes. I still can’t wait for the sylph section to end (someone cut it, please!), but it’s still a great piece, and it was lovely to see ENB doing at the Festival Hall, which feels like ‘home’. Thank god it’s not – age and revamps have not improved it. There aren’t enough restaurants to service the number of visitors, and after all these years, it still looks like an unkempt building site. A fluorescent house-light flickered all the way through Etudes, and every so often, the downlighters in the very fifties-looking royal box would flash dimly on and off like the Batphone. Every time it happened, I could hear batman saying ‘Look, Robin, that light – the Queen’s in trouble…’.

Never mind, though, it was a great night out. It was the last show of the season, and you could hear a huge cheer go up when the final curtain came in. Happy holidays!

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