Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Memory of what could have been

On 20 June 2015 the Birmingham Royal Ballet celebrated the 25th anniversary of its move to Birmingham and the 20th anniversary of the appointment of its artistic director in Birmingham (see In Praise of Bintley 21 June 2015), Northern Ballet hosted a programme of events called Tell Tale Steps which included a company class, a panel discussion on narrative dance in ballet (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015) and English National Ballet presented Choreogaphics Live in London, I lamented at the time at being forced to choose between those three and I did manage to get to the company class and panel discussion in Leeds and the Bintley triple bill in Birmingham (see Three into Two won't go 20 June 2015). The reason I was able to see part of Northern Baller's offering and all of Birmingham Royal Ballet's was that English National Ballet recorded its performance on video which can still be seen on ArtStreamingTV's website and YouTube.

It will come as no surprise to my readers that my favourite work was Memory of what could have been by Renato Paroni de Castro which was danced by Guilherme and Vitor Menezes and Sarah Kundi. I have been following Kundi for a long time and she moves me in a way that no other dancer can. I should explain that I can say the same of other dancers but they move me in a different way. Last year I feared that we would lose her to Spain but thankfully she is now with English National Ballet.

Memory is a very good example of a plotless narrative ballet which was being discussed in Leeds at the very moment that it was being performed in London. This is an interaction between  three dancers - the Menezeses dressed as sailors in summer whites and Kundi in a flowing orange dress. For the first part of the ballet Kundi is detached as the boys complete but this ballet is much more like Christopher Marney's War Letters (in which Kundi has also dancedthan Gene Kelly's On the Town. One of the sailors disappears while the other changes into winter or navy blue uniform. What happened to him? Did the girl in orange simply make a choice or was he lost in action.

This is a haunting work sensitively danced by all three. It is very tense and very taught. Such relief as exists is at the beginning of the work. Though I admired the work I am very conscious that I am missing a lot by viewing it on a lap top rather than in the Lilian Baylis Studio where it was performed.  The video goes on for one and three quarter hours including an interview with Tamara Rojo at the start. I hope to review the other ballet's presently.

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