Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is the solution to blow up lean back art?


Two wonderfully invigorating and fulfilling evenings. Friday with Philip Glass in Norwich, Saturday with the Bern Ballet at Snape. Both superb examples of lean forward art in the way they engaged, challenged and rewarded the audience. What a contrast to lean back art, where the audience are passive observers never required to leave their personal comfort zones.

Modern dance is a miraculous combination of the visual, the experimental, and the musical. The Bern Ballet (seen above) is now under the dynamic artistic direction of Cathy Marston and the company is working with an eclectic group of young choreographers. Their Snape programme ended with Mission Eurohell, which was choreographed by the Swede Alexander Ekman to music by Bach and Vic Damone. At the end of Mission Eurohell the twelve dancers left the stage and made their way into the audience, a breaking down of barriers that took me back to 1968 and the original London production of the rock musical Hair.

While we were leaning forward with the Bern Ballet on Saturday evening, millions were leaning back with BBC TV's own version of Mission Eurohell, the Eurovision Song Contest. Back in 1968 we painfully learnt you cannot trust those in authority. In 2009 we have again painfully learnt you cannot trust those running the banks, the media, the government and the arts. A young Pierre Boulez made the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that 'the most elegant way of solving the opera problem would be to blow up the opera houses'. Which suggests an elegant way of solving today's crisis of creativity in the arts. Can we find a non-violent way to blow up lean back art?

As John Drummond said, dance is not an inferior art form. Bern Ballets Snape performances were supported by Dance East, Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council) and Arts Council England. Our £12 Bern Ballet tickets were bought at the Snape box office. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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