Sacred Monsters (Festival page)
8:00pm, Tue 11 Mar 2008
Without knowing any of the specifics, it’d be pretty reasonable to suggest that there’s been a bit of expectation leading up to Sacred Monsters; more cynical mouths might have called it hype. My first glimpse of this was at the Festival Launch last year, when the very mention of the piece brought forth many cheers and woots from the usually reserved audience. The second hint that this was highly anticipated was when booking my tickets – despite the Friends privileged booking window, the centre of Row L – L! – was the best I could manage. The third hint? Everyone I talked to at Festival shows was waxing lyrically in advance; even some Fringe-goers were giddy with the thought of seeing Khan and, most particularly, Guillem.
The first thing I noticed when the lights dropped was the singer, the band. I’ve yet to see a Festival show this year where the music was less than stunning, and this was no exception. Mostly Eastern in feel, with gorgeous oscillating intensities, the five musicians provided perfect backing to Khan and Guillem’s movements.
Each dancer had their own solo piece(s), and during these it was their control on display. When they danced together, however, it was strength and finesse that took centre stage; Guillem wrapping her legs around Khan’s torso in the piece that provided most of the promotional material for the performance, a stunning piece worth every cent of the price of admission.
In between pieces, there was some surprising humour; seemingly offhand back-and-forth chit chat, with some brilliant set pieces: Guillem raving about Christmas Trees for a minute, before Khan deadpans back to her “Sylvie, I was raised Muslim; I know nothing of Christmas Trees.”
But the takeaway, for me, was Guillem’s famed flexibility. More than any circus performer I’ve every seen, her poise and balance was incredible – with her leg extended, her foot far above her head, she stood still with nary a waver.
Khan was responsible for most of the choreography in the piece, and – quite frankly – it was stunning. If it weren’t for one of Sylvie’s solos that had me dozing off a little, I’d have joined everyone else in the first dozen rows in the standing ovation. As it was, this was “only” the most impressive bit of classically-influenced dance since Drumming – and, as per usual, my words have no hope of doing it justice.
Oh yes, this most definitely lived up to the hype.