Ballet Preljocaj: And then, one thousand years of peace
- Lucy Ribchester
- 19 August 2012
This article is from 2012.
Radical re-imagining of the Book of Revelation
'Revolution and revelation' are two of the themes Angelin Preljocaj cites in his radical re-working of St John's Apocalypse, a piece that beguiles both with the changing textures of its movement and the surreal beauty of its images, set to a scorching score by DJ Laurent Garnier.
The revolution starts off as a gender one. Nearly-nude women enter as a rapid fire cipher of changing shapes to a staccato strobe light. Soon they are suffocated under plastic wrap in a slow duet with cream-suited male counterparts. As their rocking pauses we are left wondering who is controlling whom, before the women shake off their polythene veils to cover the men.
These shifts in power come often in Preljocaj's vision; between men and women, but also from the dancers finding power within themselves – his 'revelations'. In one episode they begin flicking mechanically through books, then segue seamlessly into stretches full of dynamic life. In another, dancers with their faces smothered in flags of the world square up to one another in a stately tribal greeting, reminding us of primeval beginnings to modern boundaries.
Much later, after the flag-people have debased themselves in tableaux of Bacchanalian orgies, they wash and lay these flags out into a clean wet patchwork, onto which come two bewildered scene-stealing live lambs, unaware that the picture of archetypal innocence and rebirth they represent is doubled by their bemusement at the strange situation around them.
A continuous hour and 45 minutes is a long time for the brain to keep taking in the richness and density of Preljocaj's images no matter how arresting they are, and it does feel like each segment continues rather than progresses his ideas of an upturned landscape. His choreography, while ceaselessly imaginative in shape and velocity, and flawlessly executed, sometimes cries out for an emotional grip.
Where there is one, it is brilliant in its revelation of beauty and pain, not least in a duet that sees two men bite and wrestle with one another, drawing cries of agony, then dissolve into a kiss.
Edinburgh Playhouse, 524 3333, until 19 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£30.