Alexander Ekman's Cacti. Photo Semperoper

Alexander Ekman's Cacti. Photo Semperoper

Nordic Lights, a Triumph for Swedish Choreographers

DRESDEN, TYSKLAND: The premiere of Nordic Lights at Dresden’s Semperoper was a moment of triumph for Swedish choreographers.

The programme consisted of Johan Inger, Walking Mad, Alexander Ekman’s Cacti and a new creation from Pontus Lidberg, In Another Sort of Room to a commissioned score by Max Richter, and each work was enthusiastically received by the packed audience.

Dresden Ballet, a top ranking classical company, dispensed with their pointe shoes and turn-out for the three modern works however the choreographers made good use of the dancers’ technical prowess and strength delivering an evening of dance in its fullest and finest sense.

Lidberg’s choreography and Richter’s haunting score were inspired by the poetry of Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic. The fleeting image and ideas were subtle and unobtrusive; leaving space for personal interpretations. The flow of movement was quite magical as positions shifted effortlessly and dancers used the floor and the air at will.

There were relationships: Elena Vostrotina, an androgynous figure in grey suit nurturing and protective towards Jón Vallejo and a more distinctly male/ female pairing of Courtney Richardson and Fabien Voranger. Vallejo remained outside of the ensemble at times the instigator and at other times seemingly overwhelmed by his destiny. It was a mysteriously beautiful piece.

Johan Inger's Walking Mad. Photo Semperoper

Johan Inger's Walking Mad. Photo Semperoper

Walking Mad
created in 2001 for NDT is an established favourite. Set to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero and Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina the movement similarly touches both on the mundane and the unique. The rich human comedy has sexual innuendoes, male posturing, surreal fantasies as well as moments that break your heart with sadness. In the three female roles Anna Merkulova delighted in the gutsy comedy, Julia Weiss shifted the lighthearted to a darker place and Richardson went for broke in the final duet with Jiří Bubeníček sharing the space but never quite together in a troubled relationship that doesn’t quite happen.

Bubeníček showed his gift for comedy in the central duet in Ekman’s Cacti. Together with Sarah Hay, they were spot on the pulse of Ekman’s offbeat irony. Voicing their thoughts out loud they go through the motions: ‘here comes the fast bit – concentrate’, ‘be careful of my head’, and the result is laugh-out-loud comedy. Ekman’s barbed comments deflate any artistic pretensions daring to surface as the ensemble attack the cleverly synchronised choreography with total commitment. And yes, the cacti too play their part.

It seems the time has come for Swedish choreography to step into the spotlight. Mats Ek’s Julia och Romeo will shortly be touring internationally and this talented trio have made their mark in one of Europe’s most prestigious venues.

Maggie Foyer
October 13, 2013

Pontus Lidberg's In Another Sort of Room. Photo Semperoper

Pontus Lidberg's In Another Sort of Room. Photo Semperoper

Jag ville bara dansa
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