IN THE MIDDLE SOMEWHAT OVERWHELMED: THE KIROV'S FORSYTHE PROGRAMME
Sunday 24th (evening), 2005, Royal Opera House, London
The impulse to move can come from every part of the body, an elbow, a foot, a pelvic shift. Forsythe's approach to ballet is destabilising as he takes the classical lines and postures and deconstructs them. His use of the body is often controversial and disturbing as it is exciting. The decision for the Kirov Ballet director Makhar Vaziev to embark on a Forsythe programme confirms that new challenges are possible for a Company that is renown for mastering the classical ballet repertoire. Already presented in St. Petersburgh last March, the Forsythe programme has landed in London for the first time during the Kirov Summer tour at the Royal Opera House.
The programme opens with "Septext", featuring Daria Pavlenko as the red dressed ballerina and Andrei Ivanov, Mikhail Lobukhin and Vladimir Shishov as her male partners. This piece dates back to 1985 and it is a bit annoying for the abrupt interruptions of the music, the beautiful Chaconne by Bach, and for the choice to let the performance begin with the lights on in the theatre. Both these devices highlight Forsythe's intention to disrupt the classical expectation of a dance piece. The choreography in itself rotates aroung the female figure who, in this occasion, does not seem to be up to the role. The male dancers do a great job in thier lifting and idiosyncratic movements, while Pavlenko could have been more decisive.
"Approximate Sonata" and "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude", both presented under the umbrella title "Two Ballets in the Manner of the Late 20th Century", follow this unusual start. The first ballet prolongs the sense of inadeguacy felt with the previous ballet. Andrei Ivanov and Evgenia Obraztsova stand backstage centre, Ivanov moves forward and says: "Am I in the right place?", an ironic question that maybe a few members of the audience are also asking to themselves. A female voice offstage answers "Yes" and his dance begins. His torso is flowy and his falls well controlled. To his solo other dance phrases follow and the four couples on stage perform exciting dance. The audience seem to be getting the gist of Forsythe's aesthetics and a first climax is finally reached with the second piece which is a neoclassical virtuoso performed at an incredible speed. The costumes confirm its ironic accent, women wear acid green flat tutus and men red short pants and red tops transparent on their backs.
The last choreography is "In the Middle Somewhat Elevated", a kind of signature piece for the American choreographer transplanted in Germany, that has entered the repertoire of many ballet companies. Music more than movement introduces the audience to the complex exploration of directions. Different dance phrases go on at the same time in different parts of the stage, splits and wide batmans performed by the female dancers explode according to vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, thus forging the sense of suspension suggested by the title. This represents the second climax of the evening, by far the best piece in terms of choreographic invention and dancers' interpretation. In particular Irina Golub, a sweet and delicate Juliet just the day before, stands out for her energy and stamina. A white haired lady sitting in front of me seems to be petrified, an enthusiastic applause goes on around her, but she stands still. Did she like it? Did she not? Maybe this is not the point, the point is that she did not remain indifferent and that is certainly the great thing about Forsythe!