Music by John Adams
Choreography by Lucinda Childs
Stage design by Frank Gehry
Palace Theatre, 6 July 2017
At first, mind, the dancers were shrouded in shadow. Some light, then gradual colour and eleven dancers emerged: three in white, four in red, four in black. Their movement, the dancers in white on the upper stage and the others in the stage below (though in time this arrangement varied), created geometric patterns that delighted the eye and teased the mind. Indeed, it was as though Lucinda Childs’ choreography created a combinatorial puzzle (the dancers like colourful counters, sometimes in motion and other times forbidden to move, according to the rules of an idiosyncratic game) whose solution was to be found in John Adams’ music.
When chess reached Renaissance Europe a new form of movement, the dynamic diagonal, came into being and the bishop and the queen (see, for example, Marilyn Yalom’s book) acquired this power. It is an angular movement, derived perhaps (mind, several explanations have been advanced) from the use of maps, the way ships navigated at sea. Childs’ choreography makes frequent and effective use of the dynamic diagonal here, yet even so the effect is not flat and angular but rather full-bodied: her dancers weave and curve and pirouette in Frank Gehry’s generous space, with the human form, as ever, forging its own Wunderweg.
Everything, everyone shone.
Available Light is showing at the Palace Theatre as part of the Manchester International Festival. Further details can be found here.