Sunday, October 16, 2011

6000 Miles Away With Sylvie Guillem

No better performance to close this year's dan:s festival than the legendary, elegant Sylvie Guillem in '6000 Miles Away'. At 46 years old, she can't reprise her role as principal ballerina with the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Ballet. She has moved into exploring contemporary dance. While I've watched her in the traditional ballets, I've not seen her contemporary works. It's with a fair bit of anticipation as I stepped into the theatre for '6000 Miles Away'.

Sylvie Guillem danced 2 works from choreographers who've been her long-term collaborators- Mats Ek, William Forsythe. She also invited Jiří Kylián to showcase his work as well. Wildly talented, these choreographers are visionaries, blazing the path brightly for modern dance. (Read The NYT's comments here, The Guardian's review here, and here.)

William Forsythe's 'Rearray' is a duet for Sylvie and former Paris Opera Ballet partner, Nicolas Le Riche. I love it. It's a reminder of their beautiful classical partnership and how their magnetism, strength, and exquisite graceful lines can transcend genres into the modern. Flitting between shadows and light, their powerful solos and pas de deux were riveting. I was spellbound. 2 of the finest dancers in the world on stage, showing us the beauty, flexibility and vigor of the human body. It's precision, epitomized, and ballet, re-worked.

Before the intermission, we were also treated to a new work by Jirí Kylián'27’52”'. It's starkly sexy (not because of the partial nudity) and full of contrasts, highlighting the angst and complexity of human entanglements and relationships. Aurélie Cayla and Kenta Kojiri had amazing chemistry together which resulted in total control over the poses. Pulling, pushing, entwining, running, this piece was superbly danced, all 27min and 52secs of it was absorbing.

Mats Ek's 'Bye' (Also known by its Swedish title 'Ajö') is set to Beethoven's 'Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111', poignant in its fugal structure to Sylvie's solo which portrays a middle-aged woman tangled in suburban mundaneness who still holds dear her youthful dreams. I love how the images projected on the screen fired the imagination of a doorway within the mind, and how the stage is the woman's escape into her little world, away from reality. However, there're figures appearing on the screen- of a dog, a man, a child and finally, presumably her family and friends, drawing her back into their midst. I was very tickled by her repetition of a head-stand sort of asana. On certain bad days, we all feel like doing headstands. I could so understand that. It's a little ironical, considering Sylvie's sterling career, and one wonders how she'll handle the fact that she'll no longer dance one day. But for now, I can't reconcile the angst of the character on stage to the dancer. I only see a powerful and emotional interpretation of the piece. It reminds us that no matter what identity and responsibilities we take on, we must always have that little corner of our soul to call our own.

At the end, P and I jumped up and clapped really hard. It was such a good performance. Sylvie Guillem, la magnificence personnifiée. Breathtaking (and nowhere near the end of her career). There were whispers of "She's amazing" and happy sighs of "What a wonderful show" going around, but the owners of those comments spoken aloud didn't stand up. What is it about the Singapore audience that's so difficult to get them to do a standing ovation, as evidenced by this year's dan:s festival? We don't seem to have such problems with standing ovations at indie gigs (you don't even warm your S$120 seat- not cool) or shows by big-name philharmonic orchestras.

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