Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jiri Kylian & Michael Schumacher - Last Touch First

When you leave several shows in a row a bit disappointed , telling your friend 'I mean it was good, but something was missing', you start thinking you'd be better off saving your money for something else next season (a new coat?)

But then you see great shows, pieces that are good from beginning to end, dances that kind of blow your mind or bring you to tears, and you feel so grateful. I've had three great dance evenings in the space of a month: Rosas danst Rosas, Lotte Van Den Berg and now Jiri Kylian.

I had never seen any Jiri Kylian pieces before, so I didn't know what to expect, apart from the fact that it had to be good, and the expectation rose when I saw how busy The Place was. Last Touch First is choreographed by Kylian and Michael Schumacher.

As we take our seats, the six performers (3 men, 3 women) are already on stage, in position. The stage is covered in strong beige fabric. 1 woman is reading in a rocking chair and another in a tub chair, the other woman is standing by a table with a candle on it. Two men are sitting by a window, playing cards, while another is standing at the door, looking at the woman in the rocking chair.

As the piano music begins, they start moving, but very slowly. They even blink in slow motion. The guys play cards, the woman licks her finger to turn the page of her book. Some things are odd: the woman by the table pulls at the table cloth, sliding the candle from one side to the other, the woman on the tub chair pours herself a drink, and becomes quite drunk. The man at the door surprises the girl in the rocking chair and she avoids his kiss, turning her face away from his.

There is some terrible sadness in them, a longing of some kind... they all look somewhat bored, waiting for something. Kylian and Schumacher mention Chekhov in the programme notes, and this is definitely the feeling I got away from reading Chekhov: the characters are bored out of their heads and think they have missed on what life had to offer. I really responded to that emotion.

Behind the decorum and appearances, they're actually all a bit crazy: in the second half of the piece, the table is turned upside down, a woman is lifted above the door, they play with a mirror (creating a great lighting effect), and there are flashes of fast movement. They are many great duets, with many poses that look difficult to hold, but the dancers make it all flow beautifully.

At the end, the drunk woman walks slowly towards the door, the fabric being pulled from under her feet by the 5 other performers, who are sat at the front of the stage. The furniture has moved forward with the fabric, and they all take on their initial position (woman on the rocking chair, man standing behind her etc...). They start talking to us but no sound comes out. They slowly close their eyes. Maybe they can only escape in their dreams. The piece ends at the right time: I have tears in my eyes.