Monday, 22 March 2010

Falling Under The Spell of the Kreutzer Sonata. . .

Last week, I had two very different experiences of watching dance - both events choreographed by famed Canadian James Kudelka. The first was the National Ballet of Canada's production of Swan Lake. I was sitting way up in the nosebleed section of Ring 5 but still marvelled at the gorgeous costumes, dark, theatrical sets, and of course the wonderful dancing. The one good thing about sitting high up is you can really appreciate the choreography in terms of the visual patterns made by the dancers and their costumes. It's almost akin to being the camera in a Busby Berkeley musical.

A few nights later I was in the fifth row at a much smaller theater watching the Art of Time Ensemble's innovative production of the Kreutzer Sonata. This was a terrific night. The first half was devoted to Tolstoy's story about a jealous husband, adapted into an hour long monologue, ably delivered by Ted Dykstra while pianist Andrew Burasko and violinist Marie Benard beautifully played selections of Beethoven's work. After the intermission, we were able to hear the entire sonata while watching Kudelka's work 15 Heterosexual Duets, danced by Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Oh, how I loved it! The choreography was so fast, inventive, playful, humourous, romantic and passionate. All aspects of relationships were conveyed from lust to petulant spats to apathetic boredom. And being so close to the stage, you could really see the power in the lifts and jumps, and the expressions on the dancers. I could have watched this sequence a dozen times in a row.
It was wonderful to hear the music as well, although I equally love listening to Leoš Janáček's version, which I also first encountered in a multi-cultural event. This was a few years ago when I was in London and went to see a production of Brian Friel's play Performances which combined a story about Janáček's passionate epistolary correspondence with a married woman, and the music it inspired - a string quartet entitled "Intimate Letters". I can't remember now who played Janáček but the woman was played by the gorgeous Rosamund Pike (wasn't she just wonderful in the film An Education?) The Brodsky Quartet performed the music onstage and I bought a CD of it in the lobby which also contained Janáček's The Kreutzer Sonata. I highly recommend it - it's really beautiful music.

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