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Seven: music, movement and Mahler


Seven was a brilliant combination: the RSNO playing Mahler's 7th symphony and the extraordinary Ballett am Rhein performing modern dance, on occasion ensemble but mostly a series of vignettes, in close and poignant sympathy with the music. Some episodes were ardently romantic, others violent and disturbing, all beautifully danced by this wonderfully talented corps. Their footwear ranged from barefoot to en pointe to (surprlsingly) leather-booted. Enjoy a sample of this tour de force on YouTube.

Martin Schläpfer, when he took over Ballett am Rhein in 2009, abolished the traditional hierarchy within a dance corps: all 47 dancers are treated and paid equally, and this was manifest in the distribution of roles and curtain calls. The dancers were full of grace and virtuosity, and the unbroken 90-minute performance was enthralling. Schläpfer was inspired by World War 2 and referred to Jewishness and exclusion in his interview, but says "in order not to become pretentious, you have to stay abstract". 

Judith Mackrell (The Guardian) was patronising in her praise:

Schläpfer choreographs in blunt emphatic bursts that illuminate the surface of the score but not its architecture. As a result, Seven doesn't add up to a truly compelling interpretation. I sometimes wished the music, played with brio by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, could be left to do the storytelling on its own.

I find that a very pretentious criticism: she wants choreography that "illuminates the architecture of the score" and if she doesn't realise that her metaphor mixes media as well as meanings, she should perhaps just have closed her eyes and enjoyed the RSNO's performance. We kept our eyes open and found the synergy superlative.

Postscript: I am pleased to see that the Scotsman's Kelly Apter is much more generous here.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 20, 2015 4:53 PM.

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