Bausch’s final piece (loosely translated as “Like moss on a stone, ah yes yes yes”) celebrates her dancers’ capabilities in extended solos, but fails to knit together into a satisfying whole.
Bauschean elements permeate the show, with a few video effects which are well used. The stage (Peter Pabst) moves apart and together in fractured pieces, like a jigsaw which (unlike the show itself) knits together seamlessly, and then pulls apart. One can fruitfully read ideas of dislocation, physical separation and divorce into it, these tectonic monoliths as shorthand for selves which never can know another, except to abut their neighbour – but mainly the set was just merely interesting, and the dancing rather the same.
Swan Lake – Birmingham Royal Ballet – Mathews, Lawrence, Dingman – Jan 28 2016, The Mayflower, Southampton.
John Keats and Russian myth don’t seem at first sight to be related but seeing Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence dance together was an event underlining the idea that sometimes truth is really beauty, and beauty truth. In the hands of these strong dance communicators there was here beauty, and so too truth, recognisable as great art. The Swans may (and to pun, slightly) like Keats ancient vase, be mute, but thanks to Marius Petipa and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s fine body of dancers, they sing in other ways.
The Greeks may not have quite romanticised the Swan as the Germans and Russians did in the 19th Century (Leda is a close comparator, even though Zeus is in his potencies rather more mighty than Rothbart, who is of a more rural, domestic, druidic type of evil) but they surely understood the power of Terpsichore, the Muse of dance, whom they held to be sacred, and the line from her to Petipa and Ivanov is, despite the distance of millennia, traceable at least in shared ideals. Why else do we watch dance, and stories in-dance in particular if not to be edified, or even moved?