Musical Director: Mikhail Tatarnikov
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
In 1997 Nacho Duato was commissioned to create a ballet directly related to Weimar. This ballet was premiered in 1999. The version performed in the London Coliseum in 2013 was premiered at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2012.
By using a selection of music written by Johann Sebastian Bach Duato created a piece of theatre that focuses more on the themes that run through Bach’s music rather than crafting a solid narrative. This led to a surreal but captivating performance that loosely told of Bach’s relationship with music and of his conflicting emotions throughout his life. These emotions were represented by the ‘angel/devil’ idea of his muse being the angel and a mysterious masked woman as the devil. The piece also explores the idea of Bach’s legacy and how the music could continue without its creator.
The cavernous stage at the Coliseum created an empty and desolate space for the ballet to be performed in, with a huge scaffolding construction that ran the full length of the stage at the back. This scaffolding represented a music stave and was used to great effect throughout the piece, with dancers entering and exiting through it as well as walking up and dancing on it. It was also used at times to create distance between the elegant and thoughtful dancer playing Bach (Marat Shemiunov) and the ensemble below.
The whole piece was beautifully constructed with contrasting performances and challenging choreography. The sections ranged from solo dances right through to ensemble pieces that kept the audience entertained throughout. A couple of sections that really stood out for me were the section where Bach played his music on the body of a girl (Sabina Yapparova), this was beautifully performed and intricately created and also the section where the male ensemble jousted with bows. This was entertaining and thrilling as the dancers were able to show off their skills as they embodied the music and the instruments.
The costumes also added to the audience’s interpretation of the piece, they were simple but fitted the situations well and also highlighted the changing emotions and themes. The music and costumes slowly changed to a darker, more brooding tone to reflect the confusion created by the conflict between Bach’s two women.
This was an intriguing and visually challenging piece of theatre. Duato’s interpretation of Bach’s music is individual and layered, his dancers performed faultlessly and the constant changes of pace, tempo and amount of performers on stage kept the audience interested throughout. A thought provoking piece of contemporary ballet performed by an amazing company of dancers.