Artiklar från 2008 – till idag
The feel-good factor was in abundance at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm with a triple bill to send the audience home with a smile.
Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, last seen with a sparce audience and canned applause during Covid lockdown, is restaged with an increased cast. The massed chorus, rising from the pit, all uniformly dressed in black skull caps and black trousers, engage in an Ekman mix of martial fitness and fun.
Their individual white square plinths are lifted, lowered and shifted to create floor patterns with details picked up by the spotlights and alternated with rousing synchronised choreography all to a selection of the liveliest movements from a selection of classical string quartets. What’s not to like?
The duet, with thoughts-out-loud voice overs: ‘Now, catch me’ or ‘I like this bit’, is utterly beguiling and Louise Camelbeke and Kentaro Mitsumori captured the casual, off-task mood but the grey and dusty cat needs to be pensioned off. In NDT days (2010), a far more appealing black and white moggie had the role. However, the spiked barbs aimed at critics are still razor sharp in a newly extended text by Spenser Theberge.
Hlín Hjálmarsdóttir’s Riptide, cossetted between these two megahits, finds a serious breathing space. It offers strong central roles for Daniel Nordgren-Jensen and Anthony Lomuljo who always add value.
Martin Bergström has designed a fractured barren world. Giant boulders suspended above seem like lava rocks spewed from a volcano in a threatening sky, but Linus Fellbom’s unashamedly self-conscious lighting later reveals them to be just metal frames covered in gauze: ethereal and beautiful.
The programme closed on Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 a seriously virtuosic piece of craftmanship by a master of theatre art. There is no rest for Jonatan Davidsson who does a solo stint during the preceding interval; first simply audience-watching then upping the physical side to display every dance style imaginable, warming the audience up as we giggled and clapped spontaneously.
The music, from Jacob Haage, similarly opens with fierce percussion later finding more sensual tone while the dance also plays with contrasts. It varies from primal, percussive ritual where Nordgren-Jensen is often the stand-alone individual, to sensual duets as Madeline Woo and Lomuljo reach the heights in a blaze of virtuosity and soaring lifts.
This juxtaposition can be found in the rivulets of Lake Mälaren that flow only meters from the Opera House. The wild, dark waters swirl and eddy around tranquil pools of stillness all controlled from beneath by a fearsome riptide. Such is nature and Hjálmarsdóttir finds these contrasts in her movements in a setting as savage and spectacular as her native Iceland.
Minus 16 opens with a semicircle of black suited dancers chanting the Passover song, Echad Mi Yodea, backed at ear-splitting volume by rock band, Tractor’s Revenge. The constant repetition of violent movement that engages the full body is exhilarating and the cumulative structure of the song builds the tension as dancers respond stripping off jackets, trousers, hats and shoes and throwing them into a centre bundle until they stand stunned and breathless in their grey underwear.
The dancers work with detail and precision, individuals in an ensemble, which makes the relationship between Coralie Aulas and Calum Lowden in their duet of complex textures and touch, a special moment.
Finally, the stage comes back to full energy as dancers release their inner demons in wild dance, enticing members of the audience up on stage – a brave bunch of diverse individuals – and proving dance is for all.
Royal Swedish Ballet, Stockholm
Ekman, Hjálmarsdóttir, Naharin, 14 February 2023
Grundad 1995. Est. 1995