Music used for the last dance in “Blue Snow”
Blue Snow by Shimazaki Toru
Music: Rene Aubry; Yanoyuki
Dancers: Uchida Chihiro, Heidi Zolker, Nakahama Akira, Chua Bi Ru, Tanaka Nanase, Timothy Coleman, Yorozu Kensuke, Jason Carter, Etienne Ferrère, Huo Liang
Evocative, stirring, gorgeously-layered guitar strumming starts the piece and sets the mood.
The dancers are clad in shades of peacock-blue and plum, female dancers with hair tied loosely and falling over their shoulders and men in looser pants than usual. Arms making jagged straight lines in the air, dancers turning, swaying with their backs to us (suddenly bringing to mind Nils Christe’s Fearful Symmetries). Blue Snow was meant to represent the destination that is unattainable, always on the horizon and beyond reach; and the journey towards the end. The dancers are sometimes like gypsies–I think that’s the inevitable comparison/conclusion reached somehow, because of the long swaying skirts and the sense of freedom in the moves–not constrained in small leotards or long tights.
I liked best the final group dance, the pas de deux between Nakahama Akira and Etienne Ferrère, and the dance by Chua Bi Ru and Tanaka Nanase. In the last of these three, you can see the music flow through the dancers, and get a sense of their personal dance style: Chua Bi Ru lets the music soar and sing through her and flips her hair and leaps with abandon to the music; Tanaka Nanase with her usual quick neat precise footwork, light joyous steps. The same sense that the dancers enjoy the music and dance carries through into the final, group dance, and there’s palpable joy in the dancers’ movements and their smiles. Swirling skirts and kicking, travellers to gorgeous strumming music. The beat picks up; there’s a clapping beat and you can just let yourself be carried away. Quite a contrast to some of the more sombre parts before that (I am thinking of the pas de deux between Timothy Coleman and Chihiro, set to music by Yanoyuki, tinged with angst).
Towards the end of that lively dance, though, there’s a sense of distress, and at the end, the dancers collapse, leaving Akira reaching into the last ray of light.
I kind of understand that ending, given the theme and the fact that the music has a slightly melancholic note, but some small part of me would have loved it if the dance had just ended on a light note, when the dance was still happy and optimistic.
I have a really soft spot for the pas de deux between Nakahama Akira and Etienne Ferrère because it followed the music, and somehow I felt a direct connection with these travellers as they progressed across the sand. It’s a little like the ‘desert wind’ section of Winds of Zephyrus (with its orange lights and echoes like the wind over the dunes, and Timothy Coleman and Tanaka Nonoko as the winds soaring and tearing apart, and the birds being carried and drifting along and falling apart and being inextricably drawn together). Some part of it spoke to me and built its story. I think what really helped was the rhythm, the beat of the music as Etienne marched low across the ground (in a slightly comical way), and moves that I could relate to something: when Etienne Ferrère, on the ground, raised his legs in the air and Akira turned her arms as if turning wheels–water wheels, time-wheels–and she reached through the air as if plucking fistfuls of sand that trickled loosely through her fingers.
I think Intermezzo probably had some of the dances I’ve enjoyed most from this year’s set of not-pure-classical dances. Like if the heart were a banjo, a hand reached out and plucked a string. Resonance.
There is a certain freedom to not-pure-classical dances, and some dancers really shine; and through them, I get to see many more dancers dance in solos and in pairs, than I might if I had just sat in for a single night of, say, Sleeping Beauty. I think.
From the 2015 preview, it seems these pieces won’t be reappearing next year. Perhaps they’ll rest a year and be back, also depending on when people are available. From the pictures, it seems that they may be in the KL tour. That’ll be good.
It’s winter now, winter in this part of the world as far as it can get. Grey and rainy. You can smell winter when it approaches, in the wind through the trees; emerging from the train station on day in mid-October, I suddenly realised that winter was here; the wind smelt entirely different, like trees and cold days at home playing with Lego during school holidays, and listening to carols on the radio, and seeing Xmas decorations everywhere in the malls. When spring (and Chinese New Year) approaches, you can smell it too, a new clean warmth that brings to mind pineapple tarts, red clothes…and spring-cleaning. And the weather slowly gets warmer. The rain in December/winter isn’t the same as the scent of the rain in the middle of the year (monsoon)…I think…
Next stop: Stuttgart, I think, or the like 🙂 Happy weekend!