Magazine article The Spectator

Swedish Steps

Magazine article The Spectator

Swedish Steps

Article excerpt

Made in Sweden: Premiere Space 05 Linbury Theatre

The five short pieces presented last week at the Linbury Theatre under the title Made in Sweden: Premiere Space 05 are the outcome of the first Gotland International Dance Seminar. The seminar's objective was to explore the possibility of making and performing ballet-based choreography outside the protective and often constraining boundaries of a ballet company.

The evening kicked off with Butterflykiss, a visually refreshing duet for Kenia Foss Parsons and Fred Gehring, set to Rachmaninov's Suite No 1, played with gusto by Janna Sarkisova and Stefan Matssonn. Choreographed by the Royal Swedish Ballet dancer Joakim Stephenson, this brief work attempted a seamless interaction of recognisable classical formulae with distinctive, non-balletic gestures. The use of everyday movements developing unexpectedly from wellknown tenets of the classical idiom was the winning ingredient of this now ironic, now classical duet.

An investigation into the possibilities of extending the ballet idiom beyond its stylistic and spatial syntax was also the distinctive trait of Retrieving the Sylph, a powerful solo (set to Urmas Sissask's hauntingly evocative 7 Musical Moments on the Pleiades) by British choreographer Jennifer Jackson. As its title suggests, the dance can be read as a modern-day tribute to the Swedish-born ballerina Marie Taglioni, now regarded as the quintessential representative of the ballet form.

But this solo, beautifully performed by Jenny Nilson, tackled the rethinking of ballet from a different angle. In Jackson's work, the transition from strictly balletic movements to ideas that are not stereotypically balletic came across as the result of a thoughtful process, which captured the viewer's attention from the start because of its unpredictable immediacy and clarity.

The contemporary dance scene is now so dominated by revisionist approaches and radical takes on classical ballet that they can appear commonplace. But neither Butterflykiss nor Retrieving the Sylph suffered from being too reminiscent of something we have just seen. They both displayed an original and individual use of the choreographic material.

'Radical' is perhaps the term that best suits Shintaro Oue's Renoveringsobjekt, the only dance of the evening not to be set to piano music, or to any music at all. …

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