From the time I saw the first trailers for this, I was sold. You can see the trailer (which is all Kylian, actually) here
and you can see a bit of Emergence (Pite) here
for some context.
Let's take them in performance order we start with Kylian. Petite Mort Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Piano Concerto in A Major [Adagio], KV 488; Piano
Concerto in C Major [Andante], KV 467
This is the ballet that I bought tickets for, and yes they did mean that
double entendre. It's an interesting piece; taking dance, sex, swords and women and making for a lovely, and moving ballet. Some of the tricks of the piece were the lighting, and the rolling dress pieces, and the fantastic sheeting they used for changing scenes and partners; the men would take it from the back, running it fluttering over the dancers, out over the whole stage then back to find that all had changed. The light made them disappear, stand out and glow like they were lit by candle light, all gleaming and gold.
Six men, six fencing foils, and just barely visible pale silhouettes in the gloom in the back are six women in black dresses. This is a contemporary ballet piece, and it started in silence. Luckily about the time I was getting irritated by the lack of music, it started - well timed that. (And I just realized used to build tension. I have issues with silence and dance, but that's for another time.) The men move with and without their swords, and eventually the women join them, coming forward in black dresses, which turn out to be on rollers. Eventually leaving their dresses behind, they too are in skin colored minimal dance wear. This is mildly erotic piece, just south of overly polite ballet, lacking ballet's usual romantic air. All of that muscled glory on display and some of the physical feats were just breath taking. A woman laying her head on an extended leg, while being suspended by another man, or the woman who is laid across the man's legs and then slowly lifts her upper torso and over extends, arching her back and then going back to parallel on the floor, again and again like a wave was something that was so beautiful and something I wish I could do - the sheer control and sensuality was fantastic. This was a ballet to watch and to love, just the sheer physicality of it.Sechs Tänze (Six Dances)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Sechs Deutsche Tänze [Six German Dances], KV 571, 1789)
This is a farce of a ballet and definitely meant to be comedy. A group of men and women run around in 18th century underwear and do the most absurd things. It is not however without meaning. Watching them run amok, while never being able to leave stress and fear behind unable to even recognize the environment that they are in, chasing one another and courting each other. One of my favorite bits of the piece was the gender swapping play and the black rolling dresses making a guest appearance, most notably rolling by the only door out with dead dancers impaled by the foils through a green apple. And while they are not always performed together, I see how they fit together. Not a lot more to say about it, other than it was hilarious, with meaning. The husband points out that it seems that some of the jokes are only funny to dancers, since a good portion of the audience didn't laugh in some sections which he was included in. I'm not sure but it seems likely, some of the gender swaps were all about the men doing the girl ballet parts.Forgotten LandBenjamin Britten (Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20, 1940)
This was a contemporary ballet piece, with a very strong ballet feel. This piece is about uncertainly, the loss of everything, where even the land is impermanent. Six color matched pairs, with white and red and black being highly prominent, dance against a stormy sky. This one made me uncomfortable, which I guess says that it hit home a bit closer and a lot deeper. These couples danced dreams, and hopes and the loss of them. It was a stunning display physically, and was full of grace. It ends with three of the women all alone. I got a lot of pagan overtones in the piece, knowing that it was made with the idea of a particular part of land being reclaimed by the sea and with every woman's costume other than the woman in white, having red between their legs - the image of bleeding was very there for me. While I'm always painfully aware that change is inevitable and so is loss and death, I'm not really a fan of it. It was a deep moving piece, and while I'd see it again I don't want to anytime soon and yet, I want to see it again now.
And then, to close Pite -EmergenceOwen Belton (2009)
I'd actually call this a straight up contemporary piece if the girls hadn't been en pointe. This is a piece that is based on insect emergence the idea that simple agents following simple rules could generate amazingly complex structures. Informed largely by Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software
by American popular science theorist Steven Johnson after the choreographer Pite wondered if there was a model in nature that paralleled a ballet company.
This was brilliant, amazing, awe inspiring, and more than a little freaky. The set while minimal is key, and the lighting is just as critical. The music and even more untraditional, the counting of the dancers (they had mikes set up on stage to pick up the sound) just sealed the whole illusion. It starts with a dancer as larvae being born, with the help of a fellow bug. Dude, the spasmodic, yet wave like movements, I could see her trying to inflate and unfold her wings. She was so committed to the character that it was unbelievably believable. At the Q&A after we learned that the birthing dancer is actually soaked before she comes on, I bet that helps set the mood. From then we see more of the hive, the communication changing forms in small groups with changes sweeping back in forth in waves until consensus, or emergence is reached. When the swarm goes in and out of the hive, the come out through a yellow light - this was the one place where being dead center kind of sucked, you are head on to the light, and it got a bit blinding at times. I also get an extra 10 points costuming for I found out that the tattoos that the men have are indeed makeup not costume, also every available member of the company is on stage at the end, which is awesome.
This is a ballet that took something I am SO NOT A FAN OF and made it scary, pretty, alluring and something I'd want to do. Being a hive of bugs was never really ANYWHERE on my radar as "hey, that'd be a cool dance thing." Um no. But now, it just seems so fucking brilliant. I was on my feet the minute it ended, and so was everyone else. I'd love to meet Pite, but I doubt that's in the cards. Maybe someday I can do something so radical, and moving. Although these days I'll take managing to pull off someone else's choreography without fucking up. But really you have to see this one and experience it.
So it was one hell of a trip to the Ballet, and PNB as usual was utterly fantastic and the pieces and choreographers they chose were excellent as well. I hope that I'll get to see Director's Choice
and then either Midsummer Night's Dream
for the classical side before the season is over. Stay tuned I'm going to try and write here more often.