Edinburgh International Festival
August 18 to 20th
This is a feast of balletic skill that is in two halves. The first half is MC 14/22 (Ceci est mon corps) which has twelve male dancers and is apparently a reflection on the Last Supper. Early on there is much bathing of the body of one dancer by another, with the rest of the company much less foregrounded. The work becomes intensely demanding of the dancers as it progresses, and of course involves a great deal of trust and confidence within the company. There are times when it becomes rather like a mild S/M party, at one point much to the amusement of children in one corner of the auditorium when I saw it.
I found myself mystified by the ending, as to how it might imply closure – it didn’t – and what we were meant to take from it. It is choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj This ballet has existed for a number of years and is often daringly original, and does provide a demonstration of the beauty and capabilities of the male body, but I am far from sure of the overall message that is supposed to be taken from the work..
The second half of the programme, Emergence, is choreographed by Crystal Pite. This is a thoroughly stunning piece, enrapturing the audience from beginning to end. The large mixed cast emerge from what might be a cavern, or might just be a mass of birds, a murmuration perhaps. There is often wonderful synchrony on the part of large numbers of dancers, and we see a line of women who may be wading birds, and a rebel male, maybe a gull, who taxes and tests their unity. They at times fly at ground level, and may seem to morph then more into turtles.
Whatever is being presented, the effect is terrific and uplifting. This ballet is over too quickly, despite its length, and fully deserved the great applause it received. This could not be faulted, a dance experience of the highest standard.