Bernadetje Glasgow: Tramway, Fri l7—Sun 19 Oct.
Kids on dodgems colliding and crashing to music by Bach. It sounds as if fairground attractions have gone 18th century retro in their musical taste. But no, this is Bernadetje, currently whizzing around Britain with a 'Cult Performance' tag fixed to its bumper.
Bernadetje is a seriously heady concoction. It mixes Eurokid culture with holy visions; youthful sexual stirrings with Christian rites of passage; classical sopranos with hip hop and the heartfelt wailings of Donna Summer. Victoria, the Belgian company behind it, is a collaboration between writer Arne Sierens and choreographer Alain Platel (who made his name with Les Ballets C de la B). The duo describe Bernadetje as both ’surfing on chaos' and 'a beautiful metaphor for life.’
The cast is made up of fifteen young performers aged from 9 to 21. While some career and spin ever-faster in dodgems, others slouch on the sidelines. Some pace the perimeters angling for action, while others are near-hypnotised by the speeding dodgems, the flashing
fairground lights and the relentless, ; crazed soundtrack which throws
Bach back-to-back with Prince. At one point a lone girl
. weaves her way in wearing a white communion dress.
Sierens and Platel both grew up near Ghent in the village of Oostaker, where there stands a shrine to the
.; Virgin Mary. It commemorates visions of the Virgin
' experienced in 1858 by a young French girl, Bernadette.
A popular destination for pilgrims, it had a neighbour deemed by some to be unfortunate. ’The shrine had a fairground next to it and tourists didn't like the combination,’ explains Platel.
Initially, Sierens and Platel planned a piece which
I centred wholly on Bernadette's visions, but their cast of
Wim and vigour: Wings Of Desire
Chaos surfers: dodging the dodgems in Bernadetje
contemporary kids would have none of it. ’All my work depends on the group for inspiration,’ explains Platel. 'I am not afraid to drop ideas and I was not afraid of dropping some aspects of Bernadetje. Hip hop is not really my cup of tea, but then the kids weren't afraid of Bach!
Instead, Sierens and Platel have served up an intense, taut piece about youth culture. Growing pains are all too visible, but visions are still possible. ’It is very ambiguous,’ says Platel. ’It’s funny and there is a lot of laughter. For me there is a black side to it but lots of people see the opposite.’ (Susanna Beaumont)
dancmg with him. In fact, he is dying in her arms to the accompaniment of The Bathers’ song 'An Angel In Ruskin', The piece is dove—tailed by full live sets from The Bathers and Jerry Burns.
Emphasising the collaborative nature of the proiect, Lappin says, 'We're all creative in different ways but all on the same wavelength With the same thoughts. Everyone was wanting to break out into new territory. As soon as I heard the music, all this dance came flooding into my head.’
Unconventional as Wings Of Desire is, it is still most definitely a ballet, with dancers on pOints using the movements and vocabulary of classical
‘ CONTEMPORARY BALLET ; Wings Of Desire
Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Tue 2i & Wed ? 22 Oct.
i Angels, rock musicians and ballet
dancers are unlikely bedfellows, but
Scottish Ballet’s Catarina Lappin has
brought them together Her first ballet, Wings Of Desire, inspired by Wim Wendeis' films Wings Of Desire and Faraway, So Close, is set to mUSlC by The Bathers vrith live singing from their
lead vocalist Chris Thomson and singer-songvirriter Jerry Burns. Says Lappin, ’I wanted to bring ballet into the music scene and get away from tutus, trams and guys in tights.’
F0ur dancers from Scottish Ballet perform the tragic story of a herom addict, his lover and the two angels Raphaella and Cassiel who go about their work, iriwsible to all except the hallucinating lllllkle Cassiel comforts the distraught lover, while the Junkie imagines Raphaella is flirting and
ballet to tell the story. Now 27, Lappin began training as a ballet dancer at the age of twelve, and Cites Christopher Bruce of Ballet Rarnbert as her greatest influence. 'It's the kind of ballet I
would love to dance in,’ she says of ,
Wings Of Desire, 'but I got such a buzz from watching it evolve, it was even better than clancmg.’ She sounds suspiciously like someone who is not going to let her career as a choreographer stop here.
new shows THEATRE
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 21- Sat 25 Oct. '
Giselle, because of its dramatic and technical demands, is the ballerina‘s Hamlet. 'In Evelyn Hart, we have one of the best Giselles in the world,’ enthuses Andre Lewis, artistic director of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB). 'She's a thin, ethereal-looking lady, but there’s a lot of strength behind those delicate bones.’
Hart, 41, is a world-class dancer who, like Lewis, has spent virtually all her professional life with RWB. When the company lands in Edinburgh this month, for a week-long run of Peter Wright’s staging of Giselle, Hart will be the major drawing-card.
Her interpretation of this 1841 ballet's heart-broken heroine has become a signature piece. ’That girl doesn't dance Giselle,’ one of Hart's teachers once declared, ’she is Giselle.’
Seemingly boneless and divinely musical, Hart is apparently willing to bleed for her art. Her biographer relates how she had her wisdom teeth removed during the rehearsal period for her first Giselle. ’She added a gruesome touch of realism to the mad scene,’ he writes, ’parting her lips in anguish to display a mouthful of blood.’
Hart is scheduled to dance about half of the RWB's seven Edinburgh performances. Although less likely to bring something gory to ballet glory, the company’s other ballerinas are hardly also-rans. The RWB has a reputation as an above-average provincial troupe of over two dozen dancers. Founded in 1939, it is North America's oldest and most widely travelled companies. Still, according to Lewis, they haven't appeared in Britain since 1982.
Under Lewis's directorship, the current repertoire encompasses full- length mastervvorks and mixed bills in a range of styles. But the chosen form is always ballet, rather than modern dance.
’It suits me,’ Lewis says, 'to have the pointe shoes as an icon.’ Audiences, he hopes, will feel likewise. (Donald Hutera)
Ghost of a dance: Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Giselle
IO Oct-23 Oct 1997 THE LIST 61