31 May 2013

Meryl Tankard's The Oracle at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (exhilarating)

This was one of those events where the publicity blurb hinted at something sufficiently unusual that meant that I had to go.

At the core it was a dance set to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and what a strong core that was, added to which were elements of multi-media and an interpretation that added to the original controversy rather than playing the safe option and showing us how tame it was in today's terms.

I was unfamiliar with the music, despite owning the CD for decades, and I immediately loved the brashness of it though the loud thunderclaps seemed a little tame compared to the noise made earlier in the day when one of the units at the power station was taken off-line. I still jump when that happens.

The multimedia element came at the beginning and that did not work for me at all. Mirrors were used to make kaleidoscopic images from the dancer's body though there was not enough of the body visible to see if it was dancing or merely moving its arms. Luckily that section was quite short and was not repeated.

The solo dancer, Paul White, then appeared and performed three highly energetic movements made more dramatic by low lighting that split the stage in to light and dark.

The only prop used was a piece of cloth that ingeniously transformed from clothing to a separate figure that Paul embraced and danced with.

There was lots of leaping, rolling, spinning and cart-wheeling, yet it was definitely dance and never threatened to be mistaken for gymnastics. Somewhere along the way Paul lost his underpants, but I did not see the point of that either.

The minor gripes about the kaleidoscope and underpants aside, this was a breathtaking and exhilarating performance that left me in awe of the performance and bursting with pleasure.

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