La Bayadère

la_bayadere_schattenakt_charles_tandy1350x63518 February 2017, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Arts Fest is back! And today’s performance inspired me to blog again. Hehe, let’s see if I can keep this up.

My first time seeing both  Bayerisches Staatsballett (Bavarian State Ballet) and La Bayadère. A ballet with magnificent moments, a beautiful set with stunning costumes… dancers with incredible skill… but there was just something missing. And that.. was emotion!

la_bayadere_gouneo_wilfried_ho%cc%88sl_775x497Really enjoyed the afternoon, but I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that a few of the main characters, especially Oseo Gouneo who performed the male protagonist Solor, didn’t perform their parts. Gouneo – his dancing skills are beyond impressive. His strength and incredible control of his body… how he would do multiple turns and slow down to hold a releve or coupe before he would come out of them… really really incredible! But why oh why did he not exude any emotions. Sure there were moments where you are like ah ha! There it is, there is the pain, there is the longing… but it would disappear as quickly as it came and would be gone the second he started to dance again. Such a shame, because his technique! The fact that the emotion gets lost means you don’t believe in the passion and lust between the characters, and frankly I’m left to wonder what the two women see in him!

The ballerina who portrayed Nikiya, on the other hand.. absolutely stunning. Beautiful emotions and movement that evoked the female ideal of the Romanticism era.

53391d85a66b76fda8dbcc9030c8f8c82This production was created almost 20 years ago, but it has a timeless quality. The set and costumes were elaborate and helped to create a grand experience. A few scenes that really stuck out – the beautiful red hanging ornament at the beginning; the moment the large red tapestry symbolising the earthquake was released like a huge curtain dropping to the ground, revealing the white wash of eternal light; and definitely The Kingdom of the Shades. Here, a parade of female dancers arabesqued down the ramp…simplicity at its best. But also a reminder that simple doesn’t mean easy… the amount of control and timing the dancers had to have. And it’s when movement that is difficult comes across as flawless and simple.. that’s the essence of ballet.

Had a quick chat with a friend after the show about what we think about when watching ballet. She tends to have the dancers in conversation in her head, haha, while I’m imagining what is going through the dancer’s mind. I usually think they must feel enthralled dancing on stage, but I occasionally have the bleak thought of how tasking it is for their bodies and the injuries they must be enduring at that very moment. Ah, a dancer’s life.

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