Lumière: A Sentimental Wallow
in Nostalgia or a
Bad Attack of Indigestion?
By Patricia Boccadoro
18 November 2001 - Maurice
Béjart and the Ballet of Lausanne's latest creation, Lumière,
at the Palais des Congres begins with Mr. Béjart giving a
reading from the book of Genesis. "In the beginning God
created heaven and earth ", he tells the audience, continuing
with the fact that it was only on the fourth day that God created the
sun, the moon, and the stars. Light, he reminds us, came last, "And
God said: Be light made. And light was made". While many might
well be wondering if this is indeed a ballet they have come to see, or
some sort of indoctrination process, there's a bang and a wallop, and
his latest show takes off.
Before it ends with him leading
Saint Exupery's Little Prince on stage reciting passages from
France's best-selling book of all time, we have a hotch-potch of empty
tableaux to the throbbing, emotion-filled voices of Jaques Brel and
Barbara, with even Faust getting his word in. Every time the dancing
begins, it is interrupted by more pontificating by Mr. Béjart
ensuring that even the village idiot understands what's happening and
by moments I almost believed dance might win, particularly when five
couples were waltzing on a stage lined with three giant mirrors to
Brel's immortal "Ne me quitte pas", but the powerful music
and personality of Brel were much too strong for the lightweight and
repetitive choreography, always interrupted by the archi-present Mr. Béjart.
Not even lovely Christine Blanc nor the admirable Gil Roman, try as
they might , could save the evening.
might have passed at the open-air festival, "Les Nuits de Fourvière"in
Lyon for which it was created didn't have a hope at the solidly
enclosed Palais des Congress.
The best way to enjoy this
programme was to settle comfortably back in your seat, close your
eyes, and let yourself be carried away by the music of Barbara and
Brel, who, if you were tempted to open your eyes for a peek, also
dominated the stage with their giant-sized, blown up portraits.
Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in
Europe. She contributes to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times
and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf
Nureyev. Ms. Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.com.
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