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Edinburgh International Festival: Ballet Preljocaj – The Edinburgh Playhouse

Reviewer: Orsen Ernest


Angelin Preljocaj and his unique choreographic language has been at the vanguard of contemporary dance for several decades now, and the culmination of Ballet Preljocaj’s four night run makes this startlingly vivid. The only night to feature Preljocaj’s collaborations with the experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, the two pieces are testaments not only to a refreshingly bold expression of the complexities of modernism, but also the technical strength and passion of the company’s dancers.

Helikpoter, the first of the two pieces marries Stockhausen’s notorious Helikpoter-Streichquartett, a brutalistic composition for four helicopters, with string quartet and voice and Preljocaj’s signature humanistic poeticism. Using a bare stage, and shimmering stark light the focus was purely on dance and music and the negotiation between them. Initially the dancers swirled with outstretched arms with knowing understatment, imitating the rotary blades as they roared through the speakers over tremolo strings. The effect is striking and jarring, however as the dance develops and becomes more participatory as hudled groups start to sway and languidly fall with the pulsating industrial rhythm, a colour and musiclity is revealed in the movement and sound. As the piece dies and our ears ring in the surviving silence Nagisa Shirai’s stunning solo perfectly exemplified the striking humanity of warmth at the heart of this piece.

Eldorado (Sonntags Abschied) shone glorious light on a pseudo-mysticist aesthetic. Beautifully paced duets prefigured the electronic pulse and insistance of Stockhausen’s composition, in a piece of dance defines the virtues of a disarming aesthetism. Seeming to map the movements of the sun over the course of a day, the piece was wonderfully paced and revelatory in its sensual, tribal power. Contempoarary dance buffs will have devoured this performance; a company and a choreographer to be treasured, and not to be missed.

Runs Until 19th August

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