Dance: De Frutos forgets that less can be more
JAVIER DE FRUTOS QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL LONDON
Friday 23 October 1998
No. Javier De Frutos's real problem is that he is essentially a miniaturist, making his effects with small-scale detail, and as his work has become more popular, his audiences have outgrown the small studio theatres that made a natural setting for his early pieces. So now we find him in the large Queen Elizabeth Hall, and although his gestures have a clarity that probably carries all the way back, I wonder whether spectators at the rear can make out all the facial expressions on which he relies.
He also relies rather heavily in this piece on Tchaikovsky - mostly extracts from Swan Lake, snatched out of context and out of order, and jumbled up with bits of hula music and the sound of waves. De Frutos has a partner (or do I mean victim?) in this dance - Jamie Watton - neat and butch in a white suit, found lying languorously, only to wake and find his seducer is a muscular young man with shaven head, wearing a long skirt and no knickers.
De Frutos's first attempts to win over his prey are funny, rather sweet and sometimes touching, as he bounces joyfully to Tchaikovsky's jollier tunes, or shows a striking femininity in some of the "Black Swan" passages (many a ballerina might envy his allure). His approach is sometimes more blatant, however, repeatedly grabbing at Watton's crotch.
Eventually he hits his target, unzipping Watton's trousers and making as if to kiss what he finds inside, whereupon the hitherto reluctant partner turns enthusiastic and reciprocates. I must admit that I found that the protracted outcome grew tiresome, while those more drawn to it might have felt frustration at the dim lighting for this sequence.
True, De Frutos does find a sad and affecting finale of disillusion and separation, but is this enough to validate all that went before? Well, along the way we have been able to enjoy, besides De Frutos's main action, such entertaining incidentals as his flair for mockery, his flamboyantly balletic flourishes, and even a gift for Sufi-like whirling. And if boredom occasionally crept in, we could occupy the time wondering about the title of the piece: The Hypochondriac Bird. Presumably the bird in question is Tchaikovsky's, but surely De Frutos is not meaning to tell us that he thinks himself seriously sick? Never!
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'