One of Jiri Kylian's earlier works and regarded as his masterpiece, this biblical epic uses the stage to the full. The 16 dancers, moving slowly and deliberately like monks in a cloister, suddenly break the rigid ranks to burst into action, two by two, expressing doubt or sorrow.
Stravinsky's score was not intended for dance, but here Kylian constructs a song of praise, not to the Lord but to caring humanity and man's indomitable spirit. It's more a lament for a drifting world. Images of uncertainty, suffering, loss of face are ironically set against the religious chorus. A cerebral square dance, shapes stark and angular, in which the dancers move like pawns on life's chessboard. The perpetual motion ends as they move slowly into the darkened depths backstage as the carpets rise up heavenwards. Not quite as effective as when danced in the Hague, where they have around 20 metres of stage to play with, but spectacular and spiritually arresting none the less.
Contrasting totally, Hans van Manen's Andante was more a duel than a duet, a wryly observed bit of parry and thrust between persistent male and disdainful female showing the tensions beneath the skin of the mannered Mozart score. Wittily danced beneath a giant chandelier by Jean Emile, macho and determined, and Fiona Lummis, imperious yet persuadable, this was almost a minuet of mistrust. Hips shimmying, she gave him the runaround and he dropped her from a great height. It was joky, stylish and fun.
More human fencing in Kylian's amusing Petite Mort with duelling foils slashing through the air to act as partners for the men. The timing was impeccable as the dancers rolled the foils on the floor, bent them round their necks or seemingly stabbed themselves. As the title also means orgasm, there were many sexual intertwinings for the six couples, men drawing foils across women's thighs or perching above them like eagles.
Kylian's Sinfonietta, the turning point for the company back in 1978, brought the evening to a triumphal close, the men leaping across the stage as if on springs to the exultant Janacek brass. Philip Taylor, originally from Leeds, evoked the great feeling of space and freedom here with flying grands jetes and expressive arms that seemed to stretch for ever.
The final ensemble with the dancers walking away arms outstretched was a celebration of life and an image to relish until the next time. No frills, no artifice, no gimmicks. Now Yorkshire has paved the way, doubtless we won't have to wait 17 years before London goes Dutch.Reuse content