Ballet Under the Stars 2015 (BUTS) by SDT – Contemporary Night PART 1

Note: This was written last night, hence the sudden hurrah at the end.

Okay, so I said I would write about English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire – but it somehow didn’t work out because real life caught up.

I’ll go with BUTS first.

Here’s a picture of the cover of the pamphlet. The picture of the pamphlet was taken by me. The actual pictures in the pamphlet were taken by real proper professionals. The inclusion of photographs in these BUTS posts are, as with all photographs, for friends who have asked for pictures. Photography is not allowed during BUTS.

cover lambarena

Ta-da! The titles of the pieces, the choreographers, and pictures from Lambarena (taken in a previous year).

I’ve learnt my lesson. I am not going to try to do a massive recounting. Just things that caught the eye, and such. Random things which, owing to the absence of videos, mayn’t be known by those who don’t get to see it.

Right – Contemporary Night it is!

Double Contrasts by Goh Choo San

1 double contrasts

You can even see the names of the cast members from this! 🙂

The music is here:

A blue backdrop, and silver bits strung high and glittering, like stars. The cast divided into white and black, interspersed at the start – white meant to be more playful and lively and light, and black more sophisticated, I believe. The group dancers from black and white actually did some similar moves, though; and the most obvious contrast came from the pairs (Rosa and Kenya striking dramatic poses and throwing chests out, and elbows up at an angle; Chihiro and Etienne in white, leaping in to the clash of cymbals – Etienne lifting Chihiro up by the wrists as he turns, and sliding her down into a split – a refreshing, joyous dance).

I kind of would never have thought of this as music for a dance, it has all kinds of crazy exciting fiendish sounds, now that I listen to it. I have a soft spot for Goh Choo San’s choreography because sometimes… when you watch it as you listen to the music playing, it all seems so – organic – I don’t like that word, I don’t know what it means; but really, that’s the only word – moves melded with music, melting into it. Look at the neat little moves on SDT’s instagram, below. Look at them! When you watch that, you think – hey, that’s perfectly naturally logical, this is the dance that goes with that music. Look at those quick feet and thrown-back arms!

The piece can be anything you think into it. It can be elegant evening waltzes with Etienne + Chihiro and Rosa + Kenya gliding across the stage. It can be constellations drifting about the stage, when 3 sets of a pair of white-and-black dancers* drift in small tight circles around each other within their pairs, all en pointe (as if making fine little cross-stitch marks with feet) or everyone, in alternating colours, forms a four-armed star and turns.

*Alison Carroll, Maughan Jemesen and Tanaka Nanase in white; Yatsushiro Marina, Chua Bi Ru and Lisha Chin in black

If you listen from 8:16, you can hear a very pleasant, simple, elegant piece of music. I loved the part of the dance that was slotted in for this: 4 girls in white, in a group to our right and 4 in black in a group to the left, all with backs to us; the 4 in white softly swishing their right hand, then turning and rising en pointe and lifting arms as if their arms are veils in the wind, and then raising one foot slightly, arms outstretched to emphasise the elongated line of their leg. Then the 4 in white pause while the 4 in black perform mirror image actions (Rosa Park en pointe, articulated grace). It ends with all 8 doing the same movement – leaning back as their arms are lowered in four beats, with emphasis on each beat, from an arc overhead (fifth position) to about the first position.

I’m partial to this kind of arm-opening movement – the kind seen in Garland Dance, and above, and in Goh Choo San’s Schubert Symphony.

This part was done twice in the dance, and I rather liked it. The second part ended with the music at 9:40, yearning music that I find myself humming now and then.

I got chills watching Rosa Park dance. It wasn’t from the cold when it rained on the opening (Friday) night, rain sloughing off our ponchos and ribboning down our mats and soaking through our jeans. It was from all that life and light on stage. Maybe her hang time (so to speak) en pointe is quite long (‘hang time’ being the time one can stay in the air), and somehow it showed in the part described above, when she was en pointe on one foot. It’s as if each movement is imbued with so much significance that you can’t look away.

It made me cry, this dance.

There’s a part where, almost at the end of the dance, to the great lush notes of a piano (something like 11:18 or 18:40 in the video), the cast line up at the back in a row of alternating black and white, like piano keys, and bow gracefully in succession, and suddenly, I felt like oh, this was what the choreographer wanted, of course…It reminds me of the saying about how, when you read a book, a voice from the past is talking to you. And I felt that Yes, this is what it’s supposed to look like here, then – everyone taking a quiet bow. I told you, I’m sentimental.

And again, when the entire cast, in two rows, walks to the front in an enjoyable little step: arms held out to the sides, parallel to the ground, feet pointing first to the left as they make three little beated steps (maybe pas de bourre) to the left, then feet to the right as they make beated steps to the right, and again. Rosa Park’s bright proud smile, and everyone all trotting left and right, made me suddenly think of that again… Each piece is crafted in its own way, by its craftsman…

Rubies by George Balanchine

The internet says that this is the music to it:

ETA: Costumes – please forgive the poor photography. The second shows rubies-ladies next to Serenade.

rubies ruby female_serenade

Supposed to be the more ‘American’ piece of the Jewels trio. Ladies in ruby-red with sparkling gems at their bodices, and tiny petalled skirts with yellow inner panels, each petal spotted with a big sequin. Men in ruby-red tops with petalled fringes at the waist, and white tights. Grand, loud entrance-type music, and then the dancers run in, hands held high, 1 cavalier to every 2 ladies.

All very amazing mod, modernish moves – healthy, energetic good cheer. It’s got a kind of sense of humour, this piece – moves that you might have done some point in time in your life, in private, like dancing in front of the mirror. Sticking out hips and pelvises, or leaning forward on flat feet and sticking arms out behind, or running with feet up high, sequins flapping audibly. A stage filled with glittering ruby timepieces in quick double-time.

But it’s not all “stuff I could have done”, to quote one tongue-in-cheek audience member, of course 😉 Balanchine can be quite mind-busting. You just want to inscribe every move in the inner lobes of your brains so you can replay the stunning unexpected.

Li Jie is Goddess Ruby with an alluring smile, a large crown perched on her head, and 4 men in supplication to her wrists and ankles, holding her in a variety of poses as she turns. Impossible moves requiring impossible flexibility and such strong support from everyone and every limb – leaning in profile, one leg up in arabesque; turning over to smile at the audience upside-down, supported by the 4 men and by her one foot en pointe on the ground, while the other is straight up above her. And what an exit, pausing and posing with hands upraised and full turnout, knees out, and then turning and drawing out a slow, long arabesque; while the others exit with bowed heads and outstretched arms, one in front and the other behind. Modern-Egyptian hieroglyphics!

Etienne Ferrere and Uchida Chihiro (the last also crowned) are the Couple in high spirits, holding hands and swinging back and forth in opposite directions, mock-cycling and riding round the stage. Standing on heels, turning on a heel (a nice little touch), linking arms and skipping. Flirtatious, coy glances exchanged. Etienne Ferrere, behind Chihiro, catches her as she falls like a marionette. Supported by his hands under her arms and by her feet en pointe, she smiles languorously at the audience and crosses one ankle over another, and the second over the first, in a semblance of walking (but en pointe!) while being held almost parallel to the ground.

It’s all jolly! Guys jogging round the stage like it’s the most perfectly natural thing to do, and it all fits somehow; guys jogging backwards, hands extended towards girls who run towards them, and Goddess Ruby running towards each guy and linking her arm in his to prance in a circle before she leaps into a split.

An upbeat, clean-lined piece to tuck away in the memory. I’d like to see it again 🙂

We interrupt this post to say that the Supreme Court of USA has ruled in favour of gay marriage.

Okay, I will actually end here and move on to Lambarena later. Else I’ll never get round to putting this up.


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