Dance: Contemporary meets classic
13 DIFFERENT KEYS THE ATLANTIS LONDON E1
Monday 19 July 1999
13 Different Keys was commissioned by Artangel, catalysts extraordinaire, who spark one-off collaborations between artists and specific sites, and between different forms of expression. With 13 Different Keys, dance meets the industrial layout of the Atlantis Building, brewery-turned-art gallery, in London's Brick Lane; and Siobhan Davies's contemporary movement meets the Royal Ballet's cut-glass classicism.
The stage, a catwalk of three segments in an oblique cross, is designed to fit round the building's pillars. It is a fun stage, allowing interesting proximity to the dancers, a stage with knobs on - or rather off - as both the pillars and other spectators hinder your view. It's announced as a "promenade performance", but people stay put, either for fear of disturbing others or of losing their front-line space. I sat on the floor alongside the stage, which turned out fine.
It is especially frustrating not to see when the dance is so good. Is it the French baroque music that lends it its courtliness, or is courtliness integral to the dance? 13 Different Keys, named for Marin Marais's 13 different keys, is an equal interlocking of sight and sound. On a fourth, raised platform, the musicians - Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba) and Carole Cerasi (harpsichord) - play pieces by Marais and Francois Couperin, now meditatively delicate, now broad-brush swinging chords.
The choreography is about the commonality of dance languages, despite their different approaches. The Royal Ballet's trio - Deborah Bull, Peter Abegglen, Jenny Tattersall - have discarded their shoes, so they are now on a barefoot par with Matthew Morris and Gill Clarke. Yet they still don't look quite the same. The uplifted torso of ballet contrasts with the natural stance of contemporary dance. Bull, for example, with her emphasis on a pose's finished harmony, can't match Clarke's juicy weightiness and concern with process rather than result, with movements that link one pose to another.
Does Davies's choreography simply appear more balletic because of the Royal Ballet's presence? Or has she actually made it more balletic? Tattersall's solos, speedily darting and pointy, could only be achieved by a ballet dancer; her motif jumps are like opened-out classical grands soubresauts. Abegglen embroiders liquid daisy chains of small balletic steps; and when he performs fondu arabesques they belong to ballet. Yet those same arabesques have always been part of Davies's vocabulary, with the long, uncluttered contours of contemporary dance.
Clarke performs an extraordinary solo of gestures, shaking off imaginary water drops, pulling invisible threads, pummelling, throttling. Davies is so judicious an artist, she has produced a merger of styles that is subtle, yet also draws quiet attention to the differences of tonality, just as the music does. 13 Different Keys is fascinating choreography that augurs well for Davies's first Royal Ballet piece at the end of the year.
`13 Different Keys' finishes tonight. Tel: 0171 387 0031
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove