Lyon Opera Ballet @ Festival Theatre, Adelaide 6/3/2020

The wonder of music lies in its interpretation. What one person imagines is not necessarily what another imagines when listening to the same composition. Lyon Opera Ballet highlights this concept of interpretation with Trois Grandes Fugues.

Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, the final movement of his Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, is the centrepiece of Lyon Opera Ballet’s Trois Grandes Fugues. Three seminal contemporary dance choreographers, Lucinda Childs, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Maguy Marin, create three vastly different performances to Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. These are presented back-to-back in a demonstration of individuality, uniqueness and, surprisingly, cohesive accord.

American choreographer Childs, known for her affiliation with the avant-garde, opens proceedings with a twelve dancer, classical ballet. Minimalism is the key to this piece. A set of changing shades of grey matched by dancers dressed in grey allows you to watch and appreciate the dancing without distraction. A twenty-minute interval immediately follows to enable the dancers to prepare for the second piece and the set to alter.

When the curtain rises again, a vastly different set appears. A busy set compared to Childs’ calm. With rows of lighting cans hanging from the roof and two wooden lighting strips located upstage and downstage, eight dancers appear in suits. The following twenty minutes demonstrates Belgian choreographer De Keersmaeker’s interpretation of Beethoven’s composition. An energetic, frantic and deliberate whirlwind of movement breathtakingly captures the ebbs and flows of the score. Synchronicity and repetition combine to produce a joyous spectacle of blithe physicality. A juxtaposition to the interpretation previously seen.

A ten-minute interval follows before French choreographer Marin’s piece takes to the stage in the third interpretation of the same music. Four female dancers dressed in red emerge like flames. The dance is precise, calculated and repetitive with short, jagged movements. It is quirky with a David Lynch-esque sensibility about it. Each dancer is unique, their costumes designed for the individual, and dance to the beat of their own drum, so to say. This individuality, however, engages with the score allowing unification at precise points. The emergence of this amalgamation is what connects the parts to create one holistic and impressive performance. 

The common thread among the three pieces, Beethoven’s score, is treated reverently at all times. The performance is after all a homage to the music. However, the inclusion of a live orchestra instead of the recordings used would have elevated the experience further.

Together with the remarkable Lyon Opera Ballet dancers and the music of Beethoven, Childs, De Keersmaeker and Marin create an evening of dance that is uniquely mesmerising and electrifying. They demonstrate the art of interpretation in a unique collaboration that will leave you contentedly inspired.

Adelaide Festival Review By Anita Kertes

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