The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lyon Opera Ballet


Last Saturday I saw a rather interesting program done by the Lyon Opera Ballet on its American tour. Unfortunately, there was a change in the program due to injury, and Sasha Waltz's Fantasie set to Schubert's Fantasie in F minor was not performed. (Another work was performed in its place, but I forgot the music and who choreographed it since it was announced quickly prior to the performance.)

The first work was the best one of the night. This was Die Grosse Fugue choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and set to the Beethoven piece by the same name. I thought the costume design of conservative black suits and rather insensible shoes was a rather powerful aesthetic innovation. The dancers removed their jackets and over-shirts as the danced progressed and moved gracefully throughout. Someone commented behind me that the dancers "fell too much" during the performance, but I thought the piece was executed elegantly. The piece had a real sense of "agon", synergy, and controlled movement; it was classical and fluid at the same time.

The second work (the one I forgot to note the name of) was a little more modern in its sensibilities, and the constant stopping and starting, the play of lights and rather odd arm gestures were not to my taste. Nevertheless, the dancers were strong in their execution and received a deserved enthusiastic ovation for their efforts.

The third piece presented after the intermission was by far the oddest of the night, and one of the strangest spectacles I have seen performed on a stage. It was the ballet Groosland by Maguy Martin, set to Bach's second and third Brandenburg Concertos. As one can surmise from the title, the dancers of the troupe donned padded suits to make themselves seem ridiculously obese. The program described this concept as "the Michelin man touched by grace, inhabited by dance". I saw it more as a freaky orgy of faux fat. Being a tad overweight myself, it was a bit whimsical to see the lean bodies of these dancers maneuver themselves in all of that padding. The apex of strangeness was the final part of the dance done "naked" by the dancers in their body suits. I realized that it must have been rather stuffy in those things and that the whole work was an almost superhuman effort on their part. Nevertheless, while I was entertained by the spectacle, I don't know if I was entertained for the right reasons.

In any event, the whole night was well worth my time, and more information on the Lyon Opera Ballet can be found by going to their website.

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