The Goldberg Variations – Dancing Instances

Posted on September 21, 2022

LEAD IMAGEgoldberg ┬® Anne Van Aerschot12
In her remaining weblog on the Dancing Instances web site, Barbara Newman sees
Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker at Sadler’s Wells

The Goldberg Variations is the sixth piece Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker has choreographed to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and there’s no method to discuss it with out first contemplating the music. A solo work for the keyboard, supposed for the harpsichord, the composition consists of a gap aria, which is repeated on the finish, and 30 variations developed in a proper sample of canons and established musical types of extensively different character.

The rating’s total size and elaborate construction current monumental challenges to any dancemaker. When Jerome Robbins determined to deal with it, having by no means set a step to Bach, he mentioned, “It was like approaching a lovely marble wall. I might get no toehold, no leverage to get inside that constructing.” But his ballet, made in 1971 and named for the rating, met its calls for with extraordinary sensitivity and creativeness; it stays within the repertoire of New York Metropolis Ballet and has additionally been staged in Paris and Munich.

Since creating her first dance to Bach’s music in 1993, De Keersmaeker has labored her approach by way of the six Brandenburg concerti and the cello suites, usually organising her items for a big group. In 2018, she requested the good pianist Pavel Kolesnikov to hitch her in performing The Goldberg Variations, not as an accompanist however as a solo musician sharing the stage together with her on equal phrases. As soon as COVID-19 was in retreat, they realised this dance in 2020 and just lately introduced it to Sadler’s Wells for its UK premiere.

The Goldberg Variations.

All through her profession, De Keersmaeker has deployed a minimalist vocabulary of pure motion – strolling, working, skipping – to probe and develop easy geometric figures – strains, circles, spirals. Presumably she adopted the identical methodology on this piece, however over the course of two hours, I couldn’t discern the relation of the actions to one another or, besides in probably the most common sense, to the music.

Merce Cunningham’s dancers used to rehearse in silence, as a result of the choreography was made to be impartial of the rating, whether or not mounted or organized by likelihood, to which they carried out. It by no means crossed my thoughts that De Keersmaeker anticipated her solo to fulfill Bach coincidentally, but I couldn’t discover a throughline connecting them. I observed repeated phrases, just a few sequences that joked affectionately with the music, and plenty of indications of spatial path in pointing arms, crossed ft and fast turns of the top. Throughout the one break within the piece, she and Kolesnikov modified their costumes, which she continued to do by way of the second half. The lighting modified too, from dim to brighter, briefly leaving us in whole darkness to pay attention, enchanted, with out the slightest distraction.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Pavel Kolesnikov c. Anne Van Aerschot

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Pavel Kolesnikov.

What a disgrace that her regard for Bach’s musical masterpiece and her intention in selecting it by no means emerged clearly. Although my visitor deemed her efficiency brave, it struck me as completely indulgent. She gave the impression to be considering on her ft, making an attempt out motion as a way to form it, finally, right into a completed work. Lengthy earlier than the tip, the dexterity and delicate grace of Kolesnikov’s fingers on the keyboard had develop into way more attention-grabbing to look at.

My because of the readers who’ve loved my work within the Dancing Instances for a few years. I’ll be writing regularly here, to which you’ll subscribe at no cost. I hope you’ll get pleasure from these items too.

Pictures by Anne Van Aerschot.

Barbara Newman

Barbara Newman’s books about ballet embody Grace below Stress; The Illustrated E-book of Ballet Tales for youngsters; a quantity of interviews, Putting a Stability, and its follow-up, By no means Removed from Dancing. She has written for Dancing Instances since 1984 and served because the dance critic for Nation Life from 1990 to 2016. She archives all her work at http://barbaranewmandance.web