This piece is seminal; a filigreed anathema, a chamfered illusion contained within a panoply of emotional gestalts, self-contradictory and yet at the same time, not.
As with most of Dansk's contemporary work the performance begins in total darkness. The piano (played marvellously by Tristran Howes) begins the first bars of the score, punctuating the solid blackness and building to a crescendo until Lo! the stage is awash with light and the players are revealed. Dansk has used the imagery of the four elements in his costumery - water as mermaids, fire as the red phoenix, wind as the flighty angel, and earth as the gigantic maroon teapot driving a combine harvester and smoking a pipe.
The dance begins, the players nimbly stepping and pirhouetting around each other, showing the frailty of the sacred bond that is human love. Then, with the staccato score leading the way, the mood changes to an ecstatic celebration of the ages of man; the changes we experience through our lives, sorrow hand-in-hand with joy. Next, the movement slows to a more languid pace and the stage becomes tranquility itself. The lead players illustrate the thoughtful peace found by the meaningful interpersonal relations between each other, realising their potential for love whilst sharing their hopes and fears. Unfortunately then, the lights go out and we are shown just what a maniac crack-smoking giant teapot on a combine harvester can do to a bunch of sissies on a small stage in the dark. When the last
of the screaming nancies have been mown down, the mound of dead
dancers is bombarded with Safeway mixed veg from a badger flying
overhead, and the curtains close. The last image we see is,
hauntingly, a huge pile of men in pastel tights being showered with
This latest piece will undoubtedly consolidate Dansk's position as one of Britain's most successful choreographers. His meteoric rise to fame has been especially surprising since a few years ago he was almost unknown, skulking around his chilly Birmingham flat and living off scraps of Monster Munch begged from tourists. The turning point in his career occurred shortly after he moved to London. Changing his name from Keith Smith to Pierre Dansk and dressing in black, he started hanging out in underground clubs, chain smoking and snogging other black-clad spindly and posturing young men. It was here that he first met his future collaborator Tristran Howes, a posturing young man dressed in black, chain smoking and formerly known as Paul "Poser" Stapleton. Success inevitably followed.
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