Passages 2015 – Part 3 (4Seasons)

Nice and confusing, that.

After talking so much about how much I wanted to talk about Incandescent Dream, I feel a slothfulness descend. Have run out of words this week.

4Seasons doesn’t use up all of Vivaldi’s music for Four Seasons, which is probably wise, since there’s a lot of it and there are parts that are almost too recognisable.

I like the very last part best, actually. It runs chronologically.


Spring: the wind and buds and leaves in rows, and a very sensuous dance by a couple in crimson (Nazer Salgado and Tanaka Nonoko in 2014) / delicately passionate dance executed with ease (Nazer Salgado and Beatrice Castaneda in 2015). Always, the mind thinks of the lady being lifted when the only contact between her and the gentleman is their clasped hands, her back to his chest; lifted, shudderingly, slowly.

Heaven help the fading memory. There’s summer, in its great passionate furious glory – another couple in crimson, in a torturous tug-of-war of a relationship, the lady launching herself passionately at the man, longing to tear away, flinging herself back: Maughan Jemesen, dagger-sharp feet and such intensity – and so much trust between herself and her partner, Timothy Coleman in 2014 and Huo Liang in 2015, both of whom have to catch her launched at full violent speed into their waiting arms. The timing needs to be incredible. You can’t leave a girl to throw herself off half a chance.

(On that note, I am reminded of Li Jie and Jason Carter in Bournonville Divertissements’ Napoli – Li Jie throwing herself with such momentum, leg extended forward, into the centre, so she can catch Jason Carter who is throwing himself into the circle from the other side, leg backwards – then with the momentum from both sides, they catch each other round the waist and go round in a circle.)

There go the men, bounding in with boundless energy – swallows into the dusky sky. Endlessly – a trio, then one, then another few, rolling in with the music. May Yen Cheah and Jason Carter in a careful, deliberate dance of a season (or a relationship?) fading out in its last moments. There’s Etienne Ferrere swooping in – the unforgettable arabesque penche, legs at 180 degrees and one foot on the ground.

Winter – fragile as dead leaves on the ground, a crisp and brittle pas de deux (Uchida Chihiro and Nakamura Kenya). One of my friends’ favourite parts of 4Seasons, for its lonely and heartbreaking nature.

And then my favourite part! The very last segment of the dance. Listen to Winter – the quick rush of strings, quite familiar to many, heralds the rapid entry of dancers in pairs, rushing in to form a row. Barely has it formed than the first few dancers rush off again to unwind the row and create a second one – and so the rows unfurl and unfold and reform, like notes on a keyboard. It leaves one breathless. I love it when they all suddenly break out of form and claw at the air; and, perhaps, most of all, when the ladies hang from the men’s necks by an arm and swing like hollow pendulums of time – time is running out and it’s all over. Yet it’s not all bleak – somehow, in the rows that they form even as they fall away, there’s an echo of spring, a parallel to the rows of buds and young life blossoming at the start of the dance.

The last part makes me want to cry. Haha. Face all contorted in the dark and then O, the lights are on and one must compose oneself.

4Seasons is like a novel. Sometimes you sit back and wonder at the quantum of stuff on display. To be honest, it doesn’t inscribe itself well into my mind, hence the fleeting images above. There are parts I like loads more than others. – probably the obviously athletic, intense summer fury and the last section are my favourites. I can’t express what I see – it just flows right past. But you think about the kind of mechanism that goes into a clock like this and it makes you wonder.

A piece like that (or like Schubert Symphony) which requires a lot of pair work and particular technique, needs a careful eye for casting. O, I suppose that is true for everything.


I like the works with a lot of dancers. I like seeing what companies would call second soloists; and first soloists; and the group dancers. Swans and Dryads and Fairies make up a substantial part of the ballets. They’re the backbone, and it’s great that they turn in steady performances. Off the top of the head, think Sun Hong Lei comes to mind – a reliable performance, and fitting right into the dance, whether it’s classical (swans, dryads, fairies; Schubert Symphony) or neoclassical (Rubies, in clear clean form) or contemporary (Christina Chan’s dance from Intermezzo 2014).

I think that’s why I like the non-classical works sometimes – you get to see a lot of dancers and their styles, a bit more close-up.





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