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Wednesday 25th
posted by Morning Star in Arts

Trois Grandes Fugues
Lyon Opera Ballet
Sadler’s Wells, London

AFTER more than a decade, the renowned Lyon Opera Ballet returned to Sadler’s Wells with this unique triple bill, part of the Dance Umbrella festival running in London until the end of the month.

Three female choreographers, all leading names in contemporary dance, tackle Beethoven’s Grande Fugue op. 133, beginning with Lucinda Childs’s take on the composer’s magisterial work.

Playing effortlessly with the tension between classical and contemporary vocabulary, the neat order of carefully structured steps combines with ecstatic movement in a blissful interpretation and Childs’s signature clean and precise style is aided and abetted by gorgeous lighting, costume and stage design from Dominique Drillot.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s interpretation, treading the line between dance and theatre, has a markedly different ambience and none more so than at the opening.

The house lights are on, the stage is bare and the wings to which the dancers might escape are absent.

Their energy is contagious as they explore the boundary between abandonment and control and there are few pauses in a rendition which shows the movement within the music and its innate gravity.

Of the three pieces, Maguy Marin’s response is the one that least impresses. It’s a study of the interactions between four women who shift between despair and exhilaration and, while Marin’s creation of spatial structures is impressive, there’s never a climax and some elements of the music are left unexplored.

Shining through the three works — beyond the energy and grace of the company evident throughout — is the power of the music, characteristic of the intensity and despair of Beethoven’s later work.

It draws three very different choreographic responses from the fugue and, in the process, the power of dance in illuminating its sister art of music is triumphantly accomplished.

Details of Dance Umbrella performances are available at

Dana Naomy Mills