Ballet Preljocaj: The Painting on the Wall

3 May 2018, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

1dc6ec9c4dc45f8a-224d91-e1525366990700Over the years I’ve watched quite a lot of dance. But then a dance piece like this comes along that makes you think… wow, how is it that refreshing and imaginative…? Why does it feel like I haven’t seen something done like this before…? It goes to show that creativity is not exhaustive. There is always someone out there that can come up with something new, even when given the same toolbox.

What athleticism. The synchronicity, the fluidity and the power of their movements. The repetitiveness of choreographic phrases. The pacing, the technique. But what trumped it all was the lighting. It had some of the best lighting designs I’d ever seen. Particularly memorable were the two half stage light boxes that were slightly off kilter.

Saut-©-Jean-Claude-CarbonneThen, the formations! They were so precise in their movements and formations that it felt mathematical. Very carefully calculated movements that allowed them to move at perfectly measured angles, and that dissected the stage into shapes that were so pleasing to the eye.

Then the surprises, like the silk fabric section where the dancers were suspended midair. But the silks were black, which the black cyclorama and flooring would partially camouflage, so it was like they were dangling mid air.

I often go into shows without remembering or knowing the plot/story. And interestingly for this show, I was so mesmerized by the movement that I didn’t even realize that there was a narrative. I think I knew there was some story attached to it, but for me, the aesthetics were so rich, I didn’t even try to interpret. And in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t. After the show I read the programme… and the plot (adapted from the 1740 Chinese classic Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling) is quite far fetched!

It’s incredible how much work gets put into a dance piece. I’m so used to working with kids in a way where everything gets pieced together in the shortest time possible, that I don’t get to experiment and develop. This video here shows the development process which I found fascinating and inspiring.

The Painting on the Wall (La Fresque) was brilliant. Ranks up there as one of the best dance pieces I’ve ever seen. I really like seeing Le French May shows. Good programming!


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