Fools’ Paradise: a lesson in movement
Despite my train being held up in the Seven tunnel for an hour, I managed to get into my seat in time for the beginning of Saturday night’s performance at Sadler’s Wells.
Unusually, choreographer Chistopher Wheeldon introduced the evening’s performance personally. He was talking informally about how the small company formed last year and how they have been well received since. He introduced the three short ballets, which started with Emily Molnar’s commissioned piece, Six Fold Illuminate, followed by the new Commedia by Wheeldon and finally Fools’ Paradise.
Molnar’s piece was held back, I felt, from being truly wonderful by outdated costume choice and lighting. Although the stark strong lines made by the dances in a series of pas de deux‘s were striking, especially accompanied by the relatively unknown score from Steve Reich.
Commedia opened with a colourful ensemble of jesters, and later the all-in-one monotone cat-suits created a warm, spritely feel which was delightful to watch. It also had, what Judith Mackrell called, “what may be the longest ever kiss on the ballet stage”, where the female dancer curu-ed across stage lip-locked.
But the grande finale, a clever change in the programme arrangement, came with Wheeldon’s addition to the repetoire last year, Fools’ Paradise.
The ballet, with it’s nude, barely-there costume and soft lighting brings the audience back to the basics of truly great entertainment. Wheeldon is all about innovative choreography – one of the reasons he set up the trans-atlantic group, Morphoses. The stage is dominated by new lines and tight sequences of repeated steps. The dancers work mainly in duets and delight the eye by patterning repeated phrases on top of one another. The movement is interspursed with breif pauses to allow the viewer to truly take in the beauty of the line.
Wheeldon stuck to his roots by chosing a score from British composer Joby Talbot which was originally written to the story of a ballet dancer who is attacked and killed by a deranged art fan. Thankfully he decided to scrap the plot and stick with the score.
Craig Hall and Wendy Whelan provide one of the most emotional pas de deux sequences I have seen on stage yet. The ballet climaxes to a final spectacular arrangement which comes together gradually with accurate precision and timing. The effect is mind-blowing.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to hop down to London as the weeks go on, but I look forward to a fill from my home-town company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, coming to Cardiff soo. They are an exquisite company who never cease to please.