[2013074] 6000 Miles Away

[2013074] 6000 Miles Away

Sylvie Guillem @ Festival Theatre

7:00pm, Fri 1 Mar 2013

Prior to the 2013 Festival kick-off, a friend had asked me for recommendations; I had immediately raved about Sylvie, and pointed her to my previous encounter with Guillem. My friend read my post, and returned unconvinced: “You say she’s an amazing dancer, but that her solos were boring?” Surprised by the comment, I re-read my recollections, and the memories came flooding back: yes, indeed, Sylvie’s solos in Sacred Monsters had felt… well, slow. A supreme demonstration of bodily control, to be sure, but…

From my near-optimal position, the Festival Theatre stage was a yawning chasm, and the opening piece of 6000 Miles Away (and the only piece to not feature Guillem) feels quite empty as a result. 27’52” sees dancers Václav Kuneš and Nataša Novotná cover the space with distinctly balletic movements and structures, with stark lighting creating curious cohorts in shadows. But the precision of their performance lacks a human element; it’s dry to watch, and even the use of shadow (and an occasional bared breast) doesn’t really entice me.

Sylvie Guillem performed alongside Massimo Murru in Rearray, a far more attractive piece that again exudes the precision of ballet. But, in comparison to 27’52”, it’s a much more approachable affair; there’s a bit more fragility on show, and I was actually engaged by their interactions.

But the highlight of the program was Guillem’s solo piece, Bye. Performed amidst a series of screens carrying various projections, the timing required to carry out the movements was just amazing: Guillem would fly across the space to fling an arm behind one of the screens, only for a different arm to be projected in her absence. And whilst the technological aspect of the piece was certainly impressive, it took nothing away from Sylvie’s performance; once again, her sense of control was nigh-on unbelievable… and the definition of her lower legs was amazing.

And yet, despite the strong finish in Bye, I don’t mind admitting that I left Festival Theatre feeling a little disappointed. Make no mistake, there was a technical mastery of the human machine (by all the dancers) that was almost beyond compare… but the lack of an emotional connection to the work left me flat. Once again, I can trot out my familiar “I don’t know anything about dance” line, but all I can say is this: Skeleton had me leaping to my feet in delight. 6000 Miles Away didn’t.

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